This interesting surname of Anglo Saxon origin is a locational name from Hanwell in Middlesex and Oxfordshire. Hanwell in Middlesex derives from the Old English pre 7th Century personal name "Hana" or the Old English word "hana" meaning "cock" plus "well", "spring", hence "Hanna's spring" or "cocks' spring". Hanwell in Oxfordshire originally meaning "Hana's road" was later changed to "Hanas' walk". The placename is recorded as Hanewega in the Domesday Book of 1086, from the Old English "weg" meaning "road or way", and as Hanewell in 1236 in the "Book of Fees". The surname dates back to the late 16th Century, (see below). Church records include Alexander Hanwell who was christened on November 2nd 1578 at Kirtlington, Oxfordshire, and Mary Hanwell who married John Ivatt on February 4th 1581 at St. Christopher le Stocks, London. During the Middle Ages when it was increasingly common for people to migrate from their birth-place to seek work further afield, the custom developed that they would adopt their placename as a means of identification. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Hanwell who married Esabella Merye, which was dated 1558, Lower Heyford, Oxfordshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, "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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