Apparently recorded as Packwell and Pickwell, this is an English surname. It is locational and probably from the village of Pickwell near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, or possibly from a now "lost" or very diminished village in Sussex, or a similar diminished hamlet near Ilfracombe in the county of Devonshire. The name is believed to mean the goblins spring, from the Olde English pre 7th century word "pica" and waella, a spring or possibly a branch of a stream, where the water was particularly fresh. The Leicester village appears in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as "Pichewell", and there is a suggestion that the meaning here may be from the word "pic" meaning a peak, and hence a spring on hillside. With many names of this type it was probably necessary to be there at the time when the place was named fifteen hundred years or more ago, to be absolutely certain of the meaning. Locational surnames are by their nature "from" names. That is to say names given to people as easy identification after they left their original homestead to move somewhere else. In this case the surname is well recorded in the early surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London with as examples: John Packwell, a witness at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on April 10th 1575, and Abigail Pickwell, the daughter of Michael Pickwell, being christened at St Mary Whitechapel, on April 1st 1636.
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