Recorded as Milwater, Millwater, Millwaters, Mildwater, and possibly others, this is an English surname. It is locational from a place called Millwater or similar, except that no such place is to be found in any of the known gazetters of the British Isles for the past three centuries. There are many places whose name begins with Mill, indeed it is one of the most popular prefixes, but nothing close to this surname. This is not entirely unusual. It is estimated that at least five thousand villages have disappeared since medieval times and the majority have left behind them as their only public record, the surname, often in a wide variety of spellings. However as all water mills stood by water, it must be assumed that there was some special significance with this name, and it may be that the prefix was not originally mill but Milda, a personal name of great antiquity. Many areas of England particularly East Anglia and Somerset were originally lakes and fens. These were drained in the 14th to the 18th century, perhaps 'Milda's water', or Millwater was a lake that was drained? An early example of the surname recording in the surviving registers of the city of London is that of William Milwater at the famous church of St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on July 18th 1673.
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