This surname derives from the Old French "Pestel", itself a derivative of the Latin "Pestillum", translating as "to crush or grind". The surname is an English medieval metonymic for a user of a Pestel i.e., a herbalist or early chemist. The modern spellings of the name include Pistol and Pestell, whilst French variants are Peytell, Lepetre, Pestour etc.. The name development includes William Pistel witness at the Lancashire Assize Court of 1246, Symon Pystel, 1296, the Pipe Rolls of Sussex. John Postle (1594, London), Sara Pestell, baptised at St. Anns, Blackfriars in 1610 and Benjamin Pistol christened at St. Andrews, Holborn in 1705. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Pestel, which was dated 1221, in the "Shropshire Assize Court Roll", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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.