Recorded in many forms including Tansell, Tansill, Tansle, Tanswill, Tentwall, Tentwell, Tennewell, Tinsel, Townsel and Tynewell, this is a locational surname. It may be English or just possibly Welsh and is probably either a "fused" form of an existing place such as Tyne Mill in County Durham or perhaps Tynewydd in Glamorgan, South Wales, as there does not seem to be any surviving place with the spellings of the known surname forms. Alternatively it may be from a now 'lost' medieval place, one possibly associated with the River Tyne in Northumberland. An estimated five thousand surnames originate from 'lost' medieval villages, of which the only public reminder in the 20th century, is the surviving surname often, as with this one, in a variety of spellings. The name probably translates as 'the spring on the Tyne' from the pre 7th century Olde English 'tyn' meaning river, and 'waella' a spring. Locational surnames were names given to people after they left their original homestead, and moved elsewhere. The further they moved, the more likely it is that the spelling was corrupted. In this case early examples of recordings from the surviving records of the city of London include Thomas Tansle, a christening witness at St Leonards Eastcheap, on June 28th 1609, John Tansell or Tansill at St Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, on June 7th 1637, Dorothy Tinwell, who marrried Robert Binkes at the church of St Bartholmew the Less, on February 7th 1664, Francis Tennewell, who married Mary Bartlett at the famous church of St Mary-le-Bone, also city of London, on January 20th 1796, and John Tanswell, at St Lukes Chelsea, on July 6th 1800.
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