This is an English surname. Recorded as Penwell, Pinwall, Pinwell, Pinwill and possibly others, it is locational and of Olde English pre 7th century origins from the village of Pinwill in the county of Leicester, near the town on Atherstone. The name is believed to mean "penny spring" from the words pening refering to a coin, and waella, a spring or stream. This may have referred to a spring where water was bought, but equally may have had some transferred meaning such as a clear spring. There is also the possibility that it was regarded as a holy spring, one where money was offered, a tradition which still continues in many parts of the world. Locational surnames are usually "from" names. That is to say names given to people as easy identification, after they left their original village to move somewhere else. It is not therefore entirely surprising that the surname does not appear in its home county before the 19th century, but is well recorded in the city of London. Examples of these early recordings taken from surviving registers include those of Mary Pinwell, who married Thomas Pitchar at the church of St. Lawrence Jewry, on October 10th 1618, and Thomas Pennewell, whose daughter Faith, was christened at St. Olaves Southwark, on May 10th 1640.
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