This most interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from Backwell, near Bristol in Somerset, which was recorded as "Bacoile" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Bacwell" in the Curia Rolls of Somerset in 1202. The placename itself means "stream coming from a ridge", from the Olde English "baec", back, and the Olde English "waell(a), well(a)", a spring, stream. Early examples of the name include the christening of Alyce Backwell at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London, on October 5th 1578, and the marriage of Mary Backwell and Robert Trote in July 1597, at Axbridge, Somerset. Edward Backwell (died 1683), originator of the modern system of banknotes, was a frequent intermediary in money transactions between Charles 11 and Louis X1V. He was due a large sum of money from the exchequer as a result, and took refuge temporarily in Holland, later becoming an M.P. A Coat of Arms, depicting a black chevron and three gold covered cups on a silver shield, was granted to a Backwell family in London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Baggwell, which was dated April 28th 1575, marriage to Alice Bouringe, at Wiveliscombe, in Somerset, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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