This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and may be either a topographical or a locational surname, found mainly in the Southern counties of Hampshire and Surrey. As a locational surname, Stillwell or Stilwell derives from a now 'lost' place, one of the estimated seven to ten thousand English villages and hamlets known to have disappeared since the 12th Century. The main reasons for this were natural disasters such as the Black Death (plague) of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, and to the widespread practice of enforced 'clearing' of large areas of land to create sheep pastures. The place is thought to have been situated in Surrey, and the name means 'the fish-trap in the stream', derived from the Old English pre 7th Century 'stiell, staell', place for catching fish, and 'well, waell', stream, spring, well. As a topographical surname, Stillwell denotes residence by such a place. The marriage of Arnold Stillwell and Mary Mills was recorded in Farnham, Surrey, on November 22nd 1568. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elyzabeth Styllwell (christening), which was dated April 14th 1542, Headley, Hampshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, '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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