Recorded as Gradwell, Graddell and Gradell, and possibly other forms as well, this is an English locational surname. According to the famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley, writing in the year 1880, 'The surname originates from the former village of Gradwell, which is now reduced to being only a single farm in the township of Ulnes-Walton near Croston in Lancashire'. Whether this was so or not, what seems to be the case is that a century or more later, the placename does not seem to be recorded in any gazetter of the end of the 20th century, although it is probable that the place as a farm may still exist. 'Lost' villages are a feature of the British countryside, and it is estimated that over three thousand surnames do originate from places which are no longer recorded, and in many cases have not been since the 15th century. This was at a time when the infamous plagues such as the Black Death, were very prevalent, and caused wholesale destruction of many places. In the famous lists of members of the Preston Guild in the year 1542 is the name of Robert Graddell, whilst exactly one hundred years later in 1642 in the same lists, we have the recording of Thomas Gradwell, whose occupation is given as a 'clericus' or clerk, an important staus at a time when few could even write their names. It is possible that the name means the spring (waella) of St Grade, an early British saint.
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