This unusual name is of Scottish origin, and is a late medieval variant form of the locational surname Motherwell, from the place so called in Lanarkshire. The placename is of Anglo-Saxon origin, derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Modred", composed of the elements "mod", heart, spirit, courage, and "red", counsel, wisdom, with "wella, waell(a)", spring, stream. The placename Moddershall (Staffordshire) also has "Modred" as its first element, with the Olde English "halh", nook or recess. The early forms of the Scottish surname show the influence of the Olde English personal name, with "Mod", as the initial element in a variety of contracted forms: Valter de Modirwall was clerk of the diocese of Glasgow and a notary public in 1415; Aristotle Moderwell witnessed an instrument of Sasine in 1540; and Alester Modrell was burgess of Renfrew in 1596. Katherein Moderall is recorded in Glasgow in 1620, and Sarah Moderell in Edinburgh in 1665. The variant forms with "Mad", as the first element are established by the 17th Century; examples from Church Registers include: the christening of Christian, daughter of David Madrell, at St. Ninian's, Stirling, on June 30th 1644 (David Madrell later appears as David Maderell), and the marriage of Andrew Madrell and Janet Adam on November 20th 1694, also at St. Ninian's in Stirling. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Modervale, which was dated 1296, rendered homage to Edward 1 of England, during the reign of Interregnum in Scotland, 1296 - 1306. 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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