This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from any one of the places called Ashwell in Essex, Hertfordshire and Rutland. The places are all variously recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086; Ashwell in Essex as "Asseuuella", and the place in Rutland as "Exewelle". All the placenames share the same meaning and derivation, which is "the ashstream", the stream where ash-trees grew, derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "aesc", ash (tree), and "weall, wella", spring, stream. Locational surnames, such as this, were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually in search of work, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname was first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below), and recordings from Essex Church Registers include: the marriage of Gylbert Ashwell and Dennyse Barnard on November 11th 1555, at Margaret Roding; the christening of Agnes, daughter of Gylbert Ashwell, on August 25th 1572, at Fyfield; and the christening of Edward, son of Henry Ashwell, in 1609, at Willingdale Doe. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Aswelle, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Suffolk", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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.
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