Recorded as Meadwell, Medewell and Medwell, this is an English surname. It is locational, deriving from a place called Medewall or Medeval thought to have been situated in the county of Leicestershire, but which has now disappeared completely from the maps. Some three thousand villages and hamlets of the British Isles are known to have been 'lost' due to a combination of natural and man-made disasters. These include the enforced clearance of the common lands to provide sheep pastures, particularly during the 15th Century, and plagues such as the dreadful Black Death of the year 1348 which killed an estimated thirty percent of the population, and totally wiped out some areas. Whatever the reason, the inhabitants were dispersed and they took or were given, as their surnames, the name of their original homes. The placename derives from the Olde English pre 7th century word 'maed', meaning a meadow, and 'wella', a spring or stream. Early examples of the name recording include Alice Meadwell who was married to William Richardson in London in November 1605, and Thomas Medwell an early emigrant to the New World. He left the port of London in the ship 'Hopewell' in February 1634 bound for the Barbadoes. The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Charles Medewall. He married Jane King, on September 13th 1570, at Higham on the Hill, Leicestershire. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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