This surname of Scottish origin is derived from a place near Melrose in the former county of Roxburgh. The placename originated when Maccus, son of Undewyn, a Saxon lord, in the reign of David 1, obtained a grant of land on the Tweed River before 1150 and from the salmon pool attached thereto called 'Maccus's Wiel'; the lands obtained their name. Maccus derives from the Old Norse given name 'Makkr' a form of 'Magnus' meaning 'great' plus the Old English pre 7th Century 'wael', 'well' or 'pool', hence 'the pool of Maccus'. The placename was recorded in 1144 as Mackeswell and the surname dates back to the late 12th Century, (see below). Further recordings include John de Maccuswell (1221) 'The Calendar of Patent Rolls, Scotland' and Eymer de Mackisuuell (1262) 'peeples'. Variations in the idiom of the spelling include Maxwale, Maxweell, Maxwaile, etc.. One Johane Maxwell was christened on May 1st 1547 at St. Antholin Budge Row, London, and William Hamilton Maxwell (1792 - 1850) was an Irish novelist who graduated at Trinity College Dublin and served in the peninsular campaign and at Waterloo. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Harboured de Makeswell, which was dated 1190, in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King William, known as 'The Lion of Scotland', 1165 - 1214. 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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