This most interesting and unusual surname is of Old German origin, and is a variant of "Samuel", a biblical male personal name, deriving from the Hebrew "Shemuel", meaning "Name of God". The mother of the prophet Samuel regarded his birth as the answer to her prayers, and he became virtual ruler of Israel, according to the two Old Testament Books of Samuel. In England and Scotland Samuel was a rare name except for a few examples in the 13th Century, and it was after the Reformation had aroused interest in the Old Testament that Samuel came into its own as a given name. The surname is also borne by Ashkenazic people, and first appears in the Church Registers of early German states in the mid 16th Century (see below). Other early examples of the surname from Germany include: the christening of Ann Margaretha, daughter of Johann and Catherine Schmohl, on July 22nd 1583 at Schwarzwaldreis, Nuertingen, Wuertt; the marriage of Heinrich Schmuhl and Maria Moeller on October 4th 1640 at Meukirchen, Mecklenburg-Schwerin; and the marriage of Helene Schmuhl and Christian Schultz on November 2nd 1696, at Tarnow, in Mecklenburg-Schwerin. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hans Schmohl, which was dated February 6th 1562, a christening witness at Schwarzwaldkreis, Neckarhausen, Wuertt, during the reign of Emperor Ferdinland 1, Hapsburg Emperor, 1558 - 1564. 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.