This early locational surname recorded in the spellings of Bardwell, Bearwell, and Beardwell, derives from the village of Bardwell in Suffolk or possibly Barwell in Leicestershire. Both have exactly the same meaning. This is from the Olde English 'barre' meaning fence or gate, and 'waella'- a spring or flowing pond. Presumably the spring was fenced to prevent the area being destroyed by cattle, particularly important if this was the only clear water spring in the area. It would seem that probably around the 16th century the original village was 'cleared' by the landlords, and the tenants driven off. This was common practise in the period, and the process was accelerated by the penal Enclosure Acts which allowed the landowners to legally fence off the common grazing lands. What is certain is that the surname spread rapidly during the period. A coat of arms granted to the nameholders has the blazon of a silver field charged with a hart, attired in gold. Amongst the interesting early recordings include Nicholas Beardwell of Somerset in the year 1273, whilst John Bardwell, embarked from London, England, on the ship 'Constant Warwick', on March 1st 1678, bound for 'Virginea, New England'. He was one of the earliest settlers in the new American colonies. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Tedricus de Berdewaella, which was dated 1190, in the pipe rolls of the county of Norfolk, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as 'The Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. 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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