The surname of CROMWELL was a locational name 'of Cromwell' a spot in County Nottingham. 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. Early records of the name mention Ralph de Crumwell, 1273, County Gloucestershire. Johannes de Crumewelle of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. A notable member of the name was Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex (1485-1540) the English statesman, son of a blacksmith and brewer. He spent some years on the continent, and gained experience as a clerk and trader. In 1514, he entered the service of Cardinal Wolsey and entered Parliament in 1523. He acted as Wolsey's chief agent in the dissolution of small monasteries. In 1530 he entered the service of Henry VIII and quickly became his principal adviser as privvy councillor. He lost favour with the king after negotiating the disastrous marriage with Anne of Cleves, and was sent to the Tower, where he was executed. 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. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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