Recorded as Twelve, Twelves, the rare Twelver, Twelftree, Twelvetree and Twelvetrees, this is a very interesting English surname. It would appear to be habitational and describe somebody who lived by a group of twelve "somethings." There is a hamlet called Twelve Heads near Truro in Cornwall, and there is a location and probably the site of a village called Twelve Oaks near Battle in Sussex. Either could be a source of the surname. Another possibility is that it did originate from a now "lost" village called Twelvetrees, but if so no such place has been found in any gazetter of the past three centuries. There is another suggestion that the derivation of the name is from 'Atte-well', which over the centuries became Twelve. Anything is possible with names, but this seems too far fetched without further proof. Early examples of the surname recordings include Richard Twelves at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on January 5th 1622, and John Twelftree who married Elizabeth Deacon at St Andrews by the Wardrobe, in the city of London, On December 30th 1752. Patrick Twelve who may have been from Ireland, embarked on the ship 'Columbia' from Liverpool to America on 19th November 1846, and thereafter the names as Twell and Twelve appear in the records of Philadelphia. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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