Recorded in several forms as shown below, this is an English and Cornish surname. It is locational and originates from the pre 12th century medieval village known as Penheale in Egloskerry, near the town of Launceston. The place name and hence the surname translates as the nook or hollow (hele) on the hill (penn), and it is said that the language was Ancient British, that is to say from before the Roman Invasion of 55 a.d. The modern spelling of the surname is usually found as Pennell, Penhall or Penhale, and the name development has included recordings such as that of Silvester Pennell at St. Andrews Church, Plymouth in 1602, Grace Penhale, of Paucrasweek, Devonshire, in 1655, and Ralph Penhall at St. Georges church, East Stonehouse, Plymouth, in 1799. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph de Pennal. This was dated 1210, in the tax Fines Court of the county of Cornwall, during the reign of King John of England, 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.