This is an English medieval surname. It is locational from the ancient village of Burwell in the county of Cambridge, or perhaps in a few cases from the smilar village of Burwell in Lincolnshire. The Cambridge Burwell is recorded in the year 969 a.d. in the famous Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, sometimes called the first newspaper, and again in 1086 in the even more famous Domesday Book. The development of the place name is from the pre 7th century Olde English 'burg-waella' meaning the fortress on the tributary of a river. The Lincolnshire village is also recorded in Domesday Book, and has exactly the same meaning. As to when the surname was first recorded is unclear, although perhaps surprisingly there are no less than four coats of arms recorded to the name. Locational names of this type were originally given to the lord of the manor and his descendants, or to people who left their original homes to move somewhere else. This explains why the principle coat of arms as shown in Burkes Armoury is associated with the Burwell's of Wrigley, in Essex. The basic blazon has a black field charged with a chevron engrailed, between three towers all in silver. Examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church registers in the county of Cambridge include Anna Burwell who married Petrus Cottrell at Elsworth, on October 25th 1564, and Alexander Burwell who married Margery Ryce at St Mary the Great, Cambridge, on December 20th 1568.
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