The English meaning of Castell is Castel.
The name Castell is of Portuguese origin. There are many indicators that the name Castell may be of Jewish origin, emanating from the Jewish communities of Spain and Portugal.
When the Romans conquered the Jewish nation in 70 CE, much of the Jewish population was sent into exile throughout the Roman Empire. Many were sent to the Iberian Peninsula. The approximately 750,000 Jews living in Spain in the year 1492 were banished from the country by royal decree of Ferdinand and Isabella. The Jews of Portugal, were banished several years later. Reprieve from the banishment decrees was promised to those Jews who converted to Catholicism. Though some converted by choice, most of these New-Christian converts were called CONVERSOS or MARRANOS (a derogatory term for converts meaning pigs in Spanish), ANUSIM (meaning "coerced ones" in Hebrew) and CRYPTO-JEWS, as they secretly continued to practice the tenets of the Jewish faith.
Our research has found that the family name Castell is cited with respect to Jews & Crypto-Jews in at least 2 bibliographical, documentary, or electronic references:
Sangre Judia (Jewish Blood) by Pere Bonnin. Flor de Viento, Barcelona, 2006. A list of 3,500 names used by Jews, or assigned to Jews by the Holy Office (la Santo Oficio) of Spain. The list is a result of a census of Jewish communities of Spain by the Catholic Church and as found in Inquisition records.
Pere Bonnin, a philosopher, journalist and writer from Sa Pobla (Mallorca), a descendant of converted Jews, settles with this work a debt "owed to his ancestors", in his own words. The book, written in a personal and accessible style and based on numerous sources, includes a review of basic Jewish concepts, Jewish history in Spain, and Christian Anti-Semitism. There is also a section that focuses on the reconciliation between the Church and Monarchy and the Jews, which took place in the 20th Century. In this study, Bonnin deals in depth with the issue of surnames of Jewish origin. In the prologue, the author explains the rules he followed in the phonetic transcription of surnames of Hebrew origin that are mentioned in the book. The researcher cites the Jewish origin, sometimes recognized and other times controversial, of historically prominent figures (like Cristobal Colon, Hernan Cortes, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and many others) and links between surnames of Jewish origin with some concepts in Judaism.. The book also includes an appendix with more than three thousands surnames "suspected" of being Jewish, because they appear in censuses of the Jewish communities and on the Inquisitorial lists of suspected practitioners of Judaism, as well as in other sources. In the chapter "Una historia de desencuentro", the author elaborates on surnames of Jewish origin of the royalty, nobility, artistocracy, clergy, and also of writers, educators and university teachers during the Inquisition. Special attention is given to the "Chuetas" of Mallorca, the birthplace of the author.
Dicionario Sefaradi De Sobrenomes (Dictionary of Sephardic Surnames), G. Faiguenboim, P. Valadares, A.R. Campagnano, Rio de Janeiro, 2004
A bilingual (Portugese/English)reference book of Sephardic surnames. Includes New Christians, Conversos, Crypto-Jews (Marranos), Italians, Berbers and their history in Spain, Portugal and Italy. Contains over 16,000 surnames presented under 12000 entries, with hundreds of rare photographs, family shields and illustrations.It also contains a 72-page summary of Sephardic history, before and after the expulsion from Spain and Portugal, as well as a 40-page linguistic essay about Sephardic names, including an interesting list of the 250 most frequent Sephardic surnames. The period covered by the dictionary is of 600 years, from the 14th to the 20th century, and the area covered includes Spain and Portugal, France, Italy, Holland, England, Germany, Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe, the former Ottoman Empire, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, North America, Central America and the Caribbean, South America and more.
Around the 12th century, surnames started to become common in Iberia. In Spain, where Arab-Jewish influence was significant, these new names retained their old original structure, so that many of the Jewish surnames were of Hebrew derivation. Others were directly related to geographical locations and were acquired due to the forced wanderings caused by exile and persecution. Other family names were a result of conversion, when the family accepted the name of their Christian sponsor. In many cases, the Portuguese Jews bear surnames of pure Iberian/Christian origin. Many names have been changed in the course of migration from country to country. In yet other cases "aliases", or totally new names, were adopted due to fear of persecution by the Inquisition.
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