This interesting and unusual surname derives from the Old French personal name "Otuel" which is a diminutive of either of two Norman personal names, "Otois", composed of the Germanic elements "od" meaning prosperity, riches, plus "widis" (from "wid", wide or "witu", wood), or "Otewi", in which the second element is "wig", war. The personal name appears as "Otuelis" (circa 1150) in the "Documents illustrative of the Social and Economic History of the Danelaw", Lincolnshire, and as "Otuell" (1169) in the Pipe Rolls of Essex. Variations in the spelling of the surname include: Ottewill, Otterwell, Ottewill, Ottawell, Ottiwell, Ottwell, and Otelwell. London Church Records list the christening of Anne, daughter of Richard Ottwell, on February 13th 1584 at St. Botolph without Aldgate, and the marriage of John Ottewell to Ann Austen on July 17th 1722 at Allhallows, London Wall. One Thomas Ottawell, an emigrant to the New World, is listed as living in Virginia on February 16th 1623. A Coat of Arms granted to an Ottewell family is silver, three magpies proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Agnes Otelwell, which was dated February 1st 1544, marriage to Garet Whyte, at St. Pancras, Old Church, London, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Good King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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