Recorded in the spellings of Kingwell, Kingwill and Kingswell, this surname is English. It is locational and habitational name from a place called Kingwell (Hall) in the county of Somerset. The derivation is from the pre 7th century words 'cyning', meaning a king or chieftan and 'waella' a spring or stream. There are a number of places with similar name in the West County of England including Kingskerswell in Devon, and Kingsweston in Somerset. Locational surnames were usually given either to the original lords of the maor, or more usually to former villagers who having settled elsewhere, too or were given as their surnames, the name of their former homestead. Spelling being at best erratic, and local dialects very thick, soon lead to teh development of 'sounds like' forms. In this case an early recording of the name in the west country features the marriage of Benjamin Kingswell to Grace French at the church of St. Mary Major, Exeter, in the year 1712. The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Ferdinando Kingswel. This was dated 1581 in the register of the University of Oxford, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth Ist (1558 - 1603). Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was often known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop, sometimes leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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