This is a habitational surname of Olde English pre 8th century origins. It derives from a now "lost" medieval hamlet whose translation was "the clear (glaed) stream (waella). Over five thousand medieval village sites have disappeared since the 14th century as a result of plague, war and agricultural clearance following the Elizabethan Enclosure Acts which dispossessed the "commoners". The surname is well recorded in London from the late 16th century, but quite sparsely elsewhere although a John Gladwell or Gledwell is recorded as a christening witness at Wooton under Edge, Gloucester on November 23rd 1634. In Hampshire one Henry Gladwell married Martha Abrahams at St. Thomas's Portsmouth on March 3rd 1834, although a very interesting recording is that of Aymes Gladwell aged 16yrs, who on April 15th 1635 was amongst the party who "imbarqued in ye Increase of London, Robert Lea Master" - bound for the New England Colony of Virginia. This Aymes Gladwell was one of the earliest of all American settlers. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Margaret Gladwell which was dated February 6th 1591, married William Furley at the church of St. Mary on the Hill, London. 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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