This unusual and interesting surname is of English origins. It is locational from a village in the county of Devonshire called Honeywell. The place name means 'The spring where honey was found' from the pre 7th century word 'hunig', meaning honey, and 'wella', a spring or stream. In medieval Britain honey was a very important commodity, since there was no sugar or other sweetening agent. It was also used for making mead, the ancient drink of the monasteries. Locational surnames by their nature are often "from" names. That is to say names given to strangers after they left their original villages to move somewhere else. Spelling being at best indifferent and dialects very thick, often lead as with this name to the creation of many spellings. In this case the development of the surname in Devonshire itself has included Honywyll (1541), Honowyll (1554), Honeywell (1545), Hunywell (1562), Honywill (1562), Honywell (1578) and Honyewell (1588). One of the earliest surviving examples of the surname recording was that of Anthonye Honeywell at Crediton, Devon, on the 4th June 1549. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Honiwill. He was christened November 16th 1539, at Shirwell, Devon, during the reign of King Henry VIII, Bluff King Hal, 1509 - 1547. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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