This interesting name derives from the medieval English "Whele", itself coming from the Olde English pre 7th Century "hweol" or "hweowol", meaning a wheel. The name is either occupational or topographic in origin, given to someone in charge of a water-wheel or to one residing by one. The surname is first recorded towards the end of the 13th Century,whilst the development as Whewell with its variant forms W(h)ewell, Wheowall, Whawell, Whewill etc., is well recorded in Church registers from the early 17th Century onwards, and particularly in the North of England.These early recordings include Alice Whewall who married George Walkdeyne at Manchester Cathedral on June 28th 1613, and Anne Weiwall of Blackburn, recorded there on June 22nd 1627. Amongst the interesting recordings is that of William Whewell (1794 - 1866), master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and both a naturalist and a scientist. He may have been an academic extraordinary because even the Dictionary of National Biography, a tome not given to light hearted jests, refers to his production of (quote) 'fourteen laborious memoirs on tides, 1833 - 1850'. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Isabella del Wele, which was dated 1297, in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as the Hammer of the Scots, 1272 - 1307. 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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