This internationally known surname is both English and Scottish. If English it originates from any of the three places called Orwell in the counties of Cambridge and Suffolk. The meaning of the name is believed to be from the Olde English pre 7th century word 'arwe' meaning river and 'waella', a spring or branch. The actual meaning was probably 'The branch of the river', but other interpretations are possible. The place names all appear in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 or even earlier. In Scotland the name is also locational from the place originally called 'Urwell', but now Orwell, in the former county of Kinross. The place name translation may be the same as the English, or it could be a fused form of the early Gaelic word 'ur' meaning new, and 'baile', a village. The author George Orwell (1900- 1950) was of English parents, but confusingly was born in Bengal, India. His correct name was Blair, and he sometimes claimed Scottish ancestry. The first know recording of the surname is probably that of Robert de Orwelle. He was a charter witness in regard to a gift of lands by Walter, bishop of Glasgow, to the Hospital of Soltre in the year 1231, although in England the first recording is not far behind being that of William de Orwelle in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Norfolk in 1275.
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