This interesting name, chiefly found in Yorkshire, derives from the Medieval English "gode" meaning "good", plus "will", wish or desire, and was originally given as a complimentary nickname to an amiable person, favourably disposed towards others. The reference, therefore, is not to a strong willed character, but rather to a well - wisher. The surname, with variant spelling Goodwell, is particularly well recorded in Yorkshire Church Registers from the late 16th Century, (see below). On October 29th 1655 Robart Goodwill, an infant, was christened in Terrington, and on March 10th 1689 John, son of Nicolas Goodwill, was christened in Grinton. The name is also well recorded in the register of St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London, from the mid 17th Century. On December 26th 1672 Elizabetha, daughter of Robert Goodwill, was christened in that church. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Symond Goodwell, which was dated March 29th 1579, christened in Nunnington, Yorkshire, 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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