Biblical name (Hebrew Shemuel), possibly meaning ‘He (God) has hearkened’ (presumably to the prayers of a mother for a son). It may also be understood as a contracted form of Hebrew sha'ulme'el meaning ‘asked of God’. In the case of Samuel the son of Hannah, this would be more in keeping with his mother's statement ‘Because I have asked him of the Lord’ (1 Samuel 1:20). Living in the 11th century bc, Samuel was a Hebrew judge and prophet of the greatest historical importance, who established the Hebrew monarchy, anointing as king both Saul and, later, David. In the Authorized Version two books of the Old Testament are named after him, although in Roman Catholic and Orthodox versions of the Bible they are known as the first and second Book of Kings. The story of Samuel being called by God while still a child serving in the house of Eli the priest (1 Samuel 3) is of great vividness and has moved countless generations. In England and America the name was particularly popular among the 16th-century Puritans and among Nonconformists from the 17th to the 19th century. It became fashionable again in the 1990s.