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Oswell Coat of Arms / Oswell Family Crest

Oswell Coat of Arms / Oswell Family Crest

This North English and Scottish surname OSWELL was from an old English personal name, composed of the elements OS (God) + WEALD (power). In the Middle English period, this fell together with the less common Old Norman name ASVALDR. The name was introduced to Germany from England, as a result of the fame of St. Oswald, a 7th century king of Northumberland, whose deeds were reported by Celtic missionaries to South Germany. The name was also borne by a 10th century English saint of Danish parentage, who was important as a monastic reformer. The name has many variants which include OSTWALD, OSCHWALD, ANSAUD and ANSAULT. The OSWALDS of Caithness are descended from James OSWALD of Kirkwall, who died in 1660, and a family of this name has been for more than two centuries resident in Fife. Archibald OSWALL was minister of the word of God in 1649, and Alexander OSWELL of Falkirk, was the burgess of Glasgow in 1622. James OSWALD was a notary public in Coldstream in 1665. The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.

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Last Updated: May 9, 2020

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