This interesting surname is of English locational origin from a place called Burshill in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The placename was recorded as "Bristhil" in the Early Yorkshire Charters (1172) and derives from the Old English pre 7th Century "byrst" meaning gap or landslide plus "hyll" a hill; hence "hill with a landslide or gap". The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 16th Century, (see below). In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings including Bursall, Bursill, Buresell, Bursill, etc.. Recordings of the surname from the English church registers include; Ingram, son of Anthony Birsall who was christened on November 19th 1572, at Hackness, Yorkshire; the christening of Thomas Bursell took place on June 28th 1579, at Silkstone, Yorkshire; on April 14th 1587, George, son of Anthonye Birsall, was christened at Hackness Yorkshire; Elizabeth, daughter of Peter Bursall, was christened on June 21st 1590, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London; and the marriage of Robert Bursell and Ann Godfre took place on July 4th 1613, at St. Katherine by the Tower, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nicholas Bursall, who married Anne Turner, which was dated January 25th 1568, Snaith, Yorkshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.