This interesting and long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is primarily a locational name either from Radwell, a hamlet north west of Bedford in Bedfordshire, or from the parish of Radwell near Baldock in Hertfordshire. Recorded as "Radeuuelle" in the Domesday Book of 1086 for the above counties, both places are so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century "reade", red, and "well(e)", well, spring, stream; hence, "red stream". The Hertfordshire place is specifically named from a stream referred to as "Readan wylles heafdan" in a collection of early charters, dated 1007. Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. One Robert de Redewelle was noted in the 1274 Hundred Rolls of Somerset. Occasionally, Radwell may have originated as a topographical name from residence by red(dish) woodland as in, Brun de la Redeweld (Sussex, 1296): the latter element derives from the Olde English "weald", woodland, and further early forms, for example, Ralph Redwald and William Redolf (Oxfordshire, 1276) suggest the survival of an Olde English personal name "Raedweald" or "Raedwulf". On January 22nd 1571, John Radwell was christened at Kempston, Bedfordshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Radewelle, which was dated 1185, in the "Knights' Templars Records of Bedfordshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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