This most interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an English locational name from Kerswill in Devon and Worcestershire; the former placename appeared as "Carswill" in the Feet of Fines in 1212. The placenames have the same derivation as Crasswall (Hereford); Cresswell (Derby, Staffordshire); Caswell (Dorset, Somerset); Carsewell (Scotland); and Carswell (Devon, Berkshire), these places are all so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century "caerse", (water) cress, and "well(a)", a spring, stream. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. One Thomas de Cressewela was recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Staffordshire in 1190, and the Curia Rolls of Oxfordshire mention one Reginald de Kersewell in 1212. William de Kereswell was listed in the Assize Court Rolls of Worcestershire of 1221. Other early recordings include: Richard de Carswall in the Hundred Rolls of Devonshire in 1275; and Robert de Carswell in the Somerset Subsidy Rolls of 1327. Alice Kerswell, daughter of William Kerswell, was christened on April 30th 1569 at Paignton, in Devonshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Basilia de Caswella, which was dated 1165, in the "Pipe Rolls of Devonshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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