This interesting surname is of English locational origin from "Cresswell", a place in Derbyshire, recorded "Cresswella" in the 1176 Pipe Rolls; Northumberland, which appeared as "Kereswell" in the 1234 Close Rolls; and in Staffordshire called "Cressvale" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The place name itself means the "stream where water-cress grew" from the Old English elements "coerse", (water) cress and "wella", spring, stream. In some instances the name may be of English topographical origin for a place where pigs were taken to drink or wash, from the Old Norse word "griss", pig, and "wella", stream. Very often in Northern English counties "g" was substituted for "c". The surname itself first appeared in the early 13th Century (see below). One Thomas de Cressewell appeared in Staffordshire records, circa 1216. Notable name bearers include William Parr Greswell (1765-1854) a bibliographer together with his sons Edward (1797-1869) vice-president of Oxford University from 1840 and Richard (1800-1881) who was one of the founders of the Museum and the Ashmolean Society, Oxford and chairman of Gladstone's Oxford election committee, 1847-1865. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Kereswell, which was dated 1212, the Kings Rolls of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King John known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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