This interesting and unusual surname recorded in the spellings of Bamwell, Bemwell, and Bonwell, is of English locational origin. It derives from either of two places, "Benwell" in Northumberland, recorded "Bynnewalle" circa 1050, in Historia de S. Cuthberto or "Banwell", in Somerset recorded as "Banuwille" in circa 894. In Assers 'History of Northumberland' it is recorded that "Benwell" appears as "Bionnan walle", meaning (the place) inside the (Roman) Wall, Benwell being situated between the Wall and the Tyne. "Banwall" in Somerset translates as "Bana's Stream", from the Old English personal name "Banna" plus "waella", a stream. Early church recordings include Hellen Bonwell who married Francis Lackake at Leake, Yorkshire, on May 5th 1577, while Alice Bonwell married Thomas Smyth at the same place on August 23 1596. Other recordings are those of Cornelius Beamwell who married Martha Bunn at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on November 30th 1655, Jane Bemvill, who married Thomas Lawrence on May 26th 1672 at St Dunstans, Stepney, and Sara Bamwell, the daughter of Samuel Bamwell, christened at St Lukes, Finsbury Square, London, on August 11th 1786, and William Bemwell, a witness at St Mary-le-Bone, London, on October 5th 1814. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Agnes Bonwell, which was dated May 28th 1576, married at Leake, in North Yorkshire, 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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