This ancient surname is of Olde English and Anglo-Saxon origins. It is locational from any of the places called Blackwell in the counties of Derbyshire, Durham and Worcestershire. These were recorded as "Blacheuuelle" in the Domesday Book for Derbyshire in 1086, and as "Blacwaelle" in the Saxon Cartularium of Durham, even earlier in 964 a.d. The placename itself means "black stream", from the pre 7th century elements "blaec", generally meaning "dark coloured", and referring to the colour of the water, and "waella", a spring or branch of a main stream. The surname may also be topographical for a dweller by a black stream. The surname is one of the earliest on record, being first recorded in the early 11th Century (see below). Other early recordings include Mauricius de Blacwella recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Derbyshire in 1175. Benedictus de Blakewelle mentioned in the Assize Court Rolls of Durham in 1243; and Robert atte Blakewell listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296. Alexander Blackwell who died in 1747, was the physician to the King of Sweden; he was arrested for his connection with a political intrigue, and was condemned without a public trial and executed. A coat of arms with the blazon of paly, silver and blue, on a red chief a gold lion passant guardant, was granted to the Blackwell's of Sprouston Hall, Norfolk. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Leofric aet Blacewellan. This was dated 1012, in the Old English Bynames list for the county of Worcestershire, during the reign of Ethelred the Unready, 978 - 1016. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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