This interesting surname is of English locational origin from a place so called in Dorset. The first element of the place name derives from either the old English pre 7th Century "cis" meaning gravel or the personal name "Cissa", with the second element being the old English "well(a)" a spring or stream; hence "gravelly stream" or "Cissa's stream". The surname is first recorded in the mid 16th Century, (see below). Such locational names were originally given as a means of identification to those who left their place of origin to move elsewhere. In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings including Chiswill, Cheswell, Cheswill, Cheswil, Chesswill etc.. Early recordings of the surname from Devonshire church registers include; Alicia, daughter of Johnis and Dorothie Chiswell, was christened on November 24th 1585, at Ugborough; Margaret Chiswell married Zachary Ewde on September 24th 1599, at St. Andrew's, Plymouth; and on May 24th 1612, Elizabetha Chiswell married Tristrianus Silley, at Ughborough. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Chiswell, (without personal name), which was dated 1244, records of Langford, Devonshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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