This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from the parish and village of Dowdeswell, south east of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire. Recorded as "aet Dogodeswellan" in the Saxon Chartulary, dated 781; as "Dodesuuelle" in the Domesday Book of 1086; and as "Doudeswelle" in the 1221 Assize Court Rolls of Gloucestershire, the placename has as its component elements the Olde English pre 7th Century male given name "Dogod", a derivative of the Olde English "dugan", "be of use, avail", with "wella", well, spring, stream; hence, "Dogod's stream". Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. In 1273, one William de Doudeswell was noted in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire. A Sussex family of the name were established by a Robert Doudeswell, born circa 1560, who came from Gloucestershire and settled circa 1588 in Sussex. Notable bearers of the name were William Dowdeswell (1721 - 1775), politician and chancellor of the exchequer, 1765 - 1766, and William Dowdeswell, governor of the Bahamas, 1797 - 1802, and lieutenant-general, 1810. A Coat of Arms granted to the Dowdeswell family is a silver shield with a fesse wavy between six black billets, the Crest being two hands issuing from clouds wrenching the trunk of a tree asunder proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Doudeswell, which was dated 1272, in the "Hundred Rolls of Gloucestershire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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