Recorded in several spellings including Kingwell, Kingwill and Kingswell, this surname is English. It is a locational and habitational surname from a place called Kingwell (Hall) in the county of Somerset. The derivation is from the pre 7th century words 'cynge', 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 lord of the manor, or more usually to villagers who moved somewhere else and were given the name of their fomer home as easy identification. Spelling being at best erratic, and local dialects very thick, soon lead to the 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 Kingwell. 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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