This uncommon and interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from the place called Banwell near Axbridge in Somerset. The place is recorded in 894 as "Banuwille", in the Saxon Chartulary of 904 as "Bananwylle", and in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Banwelle". There are two possible derivations for the first element of the placename; firstly, it may be the Olde English pre 7th Century byname "Ban(n)a", from "bana", murderer, felon, or it may be the latter term used unspecifically. The second element is the Olde English "well(a), wealla", stream, hence "Ban(n)a's stream", or "the stream of the felon(s)". Locational surnames were acquired especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had settled in another area, and who were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. Regional dialectal differences subsequently gave rise to variations in the spelling of the name, which in this instance can be found as Banwell, Bannel(l), Barnel(l) and Bennel(l). Examples from Church Registers include: the marriage of Mary Bannell and Peter Smith, at Halesowen, Worcestershire, on October 10th 1578, and the marriage of Leonard Bannell and Joane Sanders on October 4th 1646, at St. Matthew's, Friday Street, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Banewell, which was dated 1327, in the "Exchequer Lay Subsidy Rolls of Somerset", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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