This surname was derived from the Old English ATWELL - dweller at the well, spring or stream. This name is local to Devon. Early records of the name mention Gilbert Attewell of the County of Devon in 1274. Michael atte wille was documented in the year 1332 in the County of Devon and Edward Atwelle of County Somerset, appears during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Willelmus Attewell of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Jeffry At-welle, rector of Erpingham, County Norfolk in 1448. William Atwell and Mary Tyrell were married at St. Dionis Backchurch, London in 1663. Almost every city, town or village extant in the Middle Ages has served to name one or more families. While a man lived in a town or village he would not be known by its name, as that would be no means of identification - all in the village would be so named. But when a man left his birthplace or village where he had been known and went elsewhere, people would likely refer to him by the name of his former residence or by the name of the land which he owned. Some had the name of a manor or village because they were lords of that place and owned it, but the majority descend from vassals of freeman who once had lived there. As early as the year 1100, it was quite common for English people to give French names to their children, and the earliest instances are found among the upper classes, both the clergy and the patrician families. The Norman-French names used were generally the names most commonly used by the Normans, who had introduced them into England during the Norman Invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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