The surname BLACKWELL was of local origin 'of Blackwell' from any of various place, for example a parish in County Derbyshire, near Alfreton. A township in the parish of Darlington, County Durham, and other smaller places in Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as "de", "atte", "by" or "in". The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. Following the Crusades in Europe a need was felt for a family name. This was recognized by those of noble blood, who realised the prestige and practical advantage it would add to their status. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. Early records of the name mention Margary de Blackwelle, County Cambridge, 1273. Thomas Blackwell, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Richard Blackwell of County Derbyshire, registered at Oxford University in 1615. William Blackwell married Jemina Fowle at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in 1753.
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