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About the study
In the book 'The surnames of Scotland - Their origin, meaning and history' by George F Black (first printed 1946, reprinted 1962, New York Public Library) it is claimed that the name Mundell is; 'From Norman de Magneville or de Mandeville 'of the great town', a place on Normandy.' This may refer to present-day Mondeville on the south-east edge of Caen though there are several other similar town names in Normandy. George Black suggested how the name morphed through Mundeville and then to Mundell (which became a relatively common name in Scotland).
I have collected many early examples of these names but of course written information is very sparse before parish records were kept. This makes it very difficult to demonstrate how the name Mandeville or Mundeville might have evolved into Mundell, especially in an era when very few people could write. Scribes recorded and spelled the name as it sounded. It might be possible for a person to be born with one surname spelling, married with another, and buried with yet another.
History of the name
Geoffrey de Mandeville was amongst the most powerful Norman barons in the south-east of England, with manors in eleven counties, as listed in the Domesday Book of 1086.
His descendant, another Geoffrey de Mandeville (who died 1144) became the first Earl of Essex in 1140. His violent life and death is detailed in the book 'Who's who in Medieval England' by C. Tyerman, published Shepheard - Walwyn, 1996.
Roger de Mandeville was a competitor for the crown of Scotland in 1291.
Robert A Mundell of USA was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1999.
Distribution of the name
I have made quite a detailed study of the naval career of my four-times great-grandfather, John Mundell, who was in the navy in the 1760's and served on seven different ships. John eventually became the gunner in charge of all the canons on the ship Aetna during the Seven Years War with France, fighting in the Mediterranean and off the coast of Canada. The captain's logs show that he was often drunk, and he was eventually court-martialled for insulting an officer. He was demoted to Able Seaman, but a few months later he jumped ship and returned to his wife when his ship moored at the Isle of Wight. Remarkably although he deserted, he was sent his back pay.
My data on my own personal line from the Isle of Wight and the descendants of all those that emigrated or left from there is quite extensive (though newly digitised sources of information keep becoming available, so the task can never be complete).
However, my data on Mundells from the north of England and especially Scotland is much more sparse, and much there needs to be done.