Recorded in a number of spellings including Sparkwell and Sparkwill, and the dialectals Sparwell, Sperwell and Spurwell, this is a locational surname. It is English and originates from either of two known villages in the county of Devonshire called Sparkwell. The meaning of the village name and hence the later surname is uncertain, but it is believed to derive from the pre 7th century Olde English words "spearca," which would normally describe a spear, but in this instance is believed to have the transferred meaning of a wood of young trees, and "waella", a spring, and only much later the modern meaning of a well. The Sparkwell villages both appear in the famous Domesday Book written in about the year 1170 as "Sperchwelle," and later in the tax rolls of 1242 as "Sparkewelle". Locational surnames were often "from" names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homes and moved elsewhere. It being that the easiest form of identification for a stranger was to call that person by the name of the place from whence he or sometimes she, originated. Spelling being at best erratic, soon lead to the development of the alternative forms. Early examples of the surnames recordings taken from early surviving church registers of Devonshire include such examples as: Margerye Sperchwell of the village Buckland Monachorum on January 12th 1567, Jean Sparkwell of Plymstock, now part of Plymouth, on July 1st 1639, and Joane Sparwell, christened at the village of Churston Ferrers, on February 20th 1641.
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