This long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is either a topographical name from residence by a water-cress stream, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "caerse" (water) cress, and "wella", spring, stream; or a locational name from any of the various places throughout England named with the above elements. These places include: Kerswell, south east of Kempsey in Worcestershire (Abbots); Kerswell; (Kings)kerswell; and Kerswell in Broad Clyst, Devonshire, recorded respectively as "aet aerswylle" in the Saxon Chartulary, dated 965; as "Carsewelle" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Carswill" in the 1212 Feet of Fines for Devonshire, also, Carswell (Berkshire, Devonshire); Caswell (Dorset, Northamptonshire, Somerset); and Cresswell (Derbyshire, Staffordshire). Locational surnames were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. Early examples of the name include: Basilia de Caswella (Devonshire, 1165); Thomas de Cressewella (Staffordshire, 1190); and William de Kereswell (Worcestershire, 1221). On April 30th 1569, Alice, daughter of William Kerswill, was christened at Paignton, Devonshire, and on November 18th 1816, Ann Kerswill married Philip Penn at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginald de Kersewell, which was dated 1212, in the "Curia Regis 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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