This is a very Old English topographical name for someone who lived by a stream, a spring or a well. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th century 'aet wiella', Middle English 'atte well(e)'. It is unusual for a modern day surname to retain the Middle English spelling though the surname is also found as Atwell, Attawell, Twell, Atwill, Atterwill, Attiwill and Attwool. The form 'Atwill' is from Devon and Somerset, Attwool is from Dorset. One Richard atte Wille is recorded in Devonshire in 1333. The Atwells were early settlers in America, William Atwell leaving London on the 'Falcon' bound for the 'Barbadoes' in December 1635. The marriage of Mary Attewell to William Elzy is recorded at the Church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, London, on the 16th May 1847. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert Attewell. which was dated 1274 in the Essex Hundred Rolls. 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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