This early locational surname is derived from the village of Bardwell in Suffolk or possibly Barwell in Leicestershire. Both have exactly the same meaning 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, gathering at the same time the grant of a Coat of Arms to the Bardwell's of Norfolk. This has the blazon of a silver field charged with a hart, attired in gold. Amongst the interesting recording associated with this surname is that of John Bardwell, who was one of the early settlers to the New England Colonies, later the United States of America. He embarked from London, England, on the ship 'Constant Warwick', on March 1st 1678. A later nameholder of prominence was Thomas Bardwell (1710 - 1780) the portrait painter and author of the book 'Practise of Painting'. 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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