Recorded in the modern spellings of Ockwell and Oakwell, this is an English surname. It is locational and probably either from the former village of Oakwell-in-the-Blean in the county of Kent, or Ockwell Manor, and again a former village, near Bray, in Berkshire. The surnames have the same meaning of the oak trees by the spring, being derived from the Olde English pre 7th century words "ock waella". The "lost" village syndome is a common occurence with names of the British Isles. In effect it means that a former village has either disappeared completely to the point where the surviving surnames are the only public reminder in the late 20th century of even its former existence, or it has been considerably diminished down to say a single house even though this could be a manor house as in fact applies to these two villages above. It is estimated that at least three thousand surnames do originate from such a source, and this would seem to be another example. Villages disappeared for many reasons, but the most likely explanation in the South east of England is either the Enclosure Acts or what is called "emparking", when a village was removed or cleared to allow the landowner to build a manor house. Early examples of the surname recording from the diocese of Greater London include: Lawrence Acwill, who married Elizabeth Doo, at St Mathews church, in the city of London on April 29th 1548, Anne Ockwell, the daughter of Richard Ockwell, who was christened at St Mary Abchurch, on November 13th 1597, and Maria Oakewell, who was christened at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on January 5th 1662.
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