This rare name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two possible interpretations. Firstly, it is a locational surname deriving from the place called Westwell near Burford in Oxfordshire; the place is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Westwelle", and is named with the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "west", west, and "wella, waella", spring, stream, well. There is another Westwell in Kent, near Ashford, but it does not appear to have generated any of the modern surnames. Locational names were used particularly as a means of identification by those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. Secondly, the surname Westwell may be topographical in origin, acquired in the first instances by someone who lived "by the west(ern) stream or spring". The following recordings, from various parish registers, illustrate the development of the name: Margaret Weswell (1579, Yorkshire); Ann Wesswell (1591, Lincolnshire); William Wastwell (1648, County Durham); and John Wesewell (1681, London). The marriage of Edmunde Westwell and Agnis Bath was recorded in Shrivenham, Berkshire, on November 4th 1605, and Marie, daughter of Thomas Westwell, was christened at St. Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, London, on August 24th 1612. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Whistwell, which was dated May 21st 1572, christened at West Heslerton, Yorkshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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