This is an English locational name from any of the two places thus called, one in Cambridgeshire which derives its name from the Olde English pre 7th century elements 'beorna' - a warrior and 'well(a)' - a stream and one in Northamptonshire so called from the Olde English 'byrgen' a burial mound and 'well(a)'. The name was originally given to those residing by either of these streams. In the modern idiom the name appears as Barnwell Barnwill(e), Barnwelle(e), Barnwall(e)and Barneville. Examples of the surname recordings include Robert Barnwell of St. Marys Hall, in the Oxford University Register of 1593 and Abel Barnwell, the son of Thomas and Martha Barnwell, christened at St. Brides Church, Fleet Street, London on September 18th 1690. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Bernwell, Vicar of Frethorp, which was dated 1307 in the Records of County of Norfolk, during the reign of King Edward 11, known as Edward of Caernafon 1307-1327. 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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