This unusual and intriguing name is of English origins although also well recorded in Scotland. It is (usually) a variant form of the locational name Haswell, from the place so called in Co. Durham, near Easington. The place is first recorded in 1131 as "Hessewella" in the Fees Book of Durham Priory, and as "Hessewell" in the Charter Rolls of 1253 and derives from the Olde English per 7th Century "haesel", meaning hazel, with "wella", a spring or stream. Locational surnames were acquired especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. Regional and dialectal differences subsequently gave rise to variations in the spelling of the name. In this instance, the surname can be found as Hasswell, Haswall, Hastwall, Haistwell, Hastwell and Hastewell. It is first recorded toward the end of the 12th Century in Scotland (see below), the earliest recording in England being that of Stephen de Hassewell in the Oxfordshire Book of Fees for 1272. Durham Church Records list the christening of William, son of William and Jane Hastewell on the 7th August 1774, at Cockfield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Galfridus de Hesswel, which was dated circa 1190, in the Wedderburn Manuscripts, during the reign of King William, known as The Lion of Scotland, 1165 -1214. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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