Atwell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Atwell first arose amongst the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is derived from their having lived in southeastern England mainly in the counties of Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire where they were found since the early Middle Ages. [1]

The name is toponymic; that is, it is descriptive of the place where the original bearer lived. Literally the name is derived from the Old English atwell, meaning dweller at the well. [2]

Another source noted that the name is from "Atte Welle; a location name. Adopted as a surname 1258-1358, Court of Husting, London. " [3]

Early Origins of the Atwell family

The surname Atwell was first found in south eastern England mainly in the counties of Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire where they held a family seat for many, many centuries. They are recorded as possessing estates before the advent of the Norman Conquest in 1066 A.D. but many of them were lost to their Norman overlords by forfeit. The Eatwell variant is thought to be related to a Hugo de Hetewelle, listed in 1187 in the Pipe Rolls for Derbyshire. [4]

There were a multitude of early spellings of the name. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list: Adam Ate Welle, Oxfordshire; and John Atewelle, Cambridgeshire. The Writ of Parliament list: William atte Well, 1313 and John Atwelle. The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 lists Willelmus Attewell.

In Norfolk, Jef the Franch Atwelle, was rector of Erpingham, Norfolk, 1448 and Hugh Attwyll, was parson of Cawverly, Devon, 1602. [5]

Early History of the Atwell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Atwell research. Another 120 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1258, 1495, 1499, 1621 and 1609 are included under the topic Early Atwell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Atwell Spelling Variations

One relatively recent invention that did much to standardize English spelling was the printing press. However, before its invention even the most literate people recorded their names according to sound rather than spelling. The spelling variations under which the name Atwell has appeared include Attwill, Attwell, Atwill, Atwell, Atthill, Athill, Atwool, Attwel and many more.

Early Notables of the Atwell family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include John Atwell, Rector of Exeter College, Oxford (1495-1499); and Hugh Atwell (died 1621), an English actor, one of the 'Children of her Majesty's...
Another 28 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Atwell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Atwell Ranking

In the United States, the name Atwell is the 3,098th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [6]


United States Atwell migration to the United States +

At this time, the shores of the New World beckoned many English families that felt that the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. Thousands left England at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. A great portion of these settlers never survived the journey and even a greater number arrived sick, starving, and without a penny. The survivors, however, were often greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. These English settlers made significant contributions to those colonies that would eventually become the United States and Canada. An examination of early immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name Atwell arrived in North America very early:

Atwell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Israeli Atwell, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [7]
  • Nicholas Atwell, who arrived in Virginia in 1637 [7]
  • Katherin Atwell, who arrived in Virginia in 1638 [7]
  • Symon Atwell, who arrived in Virginia in 1648 [7]
  • Mary Atwell, who landed in Virginia in 1649 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Atwell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Henry Atwell, who arrived in Virginia in 1713 [7]
Atwell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Atwell, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1840 [7]
  • O Atwell, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [7]

Australia Atwell migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Atwell Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Edward Atwell, (b. 1767), aged 23, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 22nd March 1788, sentenced for 7 years for burglary, transported Neptuneon 19th January 1790 to New South Wales, Australia [8]
Atwell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Charles Atwell, aged 29, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "John Banks" [9]

West Indies Atwell migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [10]
Atwell Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Mr. William Atwell, (b. 1614), aged 21, British settler travelling from Gravesend, England aboard the ship "Falcon" arriving in Barbados in 1636 [11]

Contemporary Notables of the name Atwell (post 1700) +

  • Roy Atwell (1878-1962), American actor, comedian, and composer
  • William Hawley Atwell (1869-1961), American Republican politician, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, 1898-1913; Candidate for Governor of Texas, 1920; U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Texas, 1923-54 [12]
  • Samuel Y. Atwell, American politician, Speaker of the Rhode Island State House of Representatives, 1836-37 [12]
  • Ross Atwell, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1956 [12]
  • Jesse Atwell, American politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Durham, 1830 [12]
  • J. O. Atwell, American politician, Mayor of Paris, Texas, 1952 [12]
  • Harry Hurd Atwell (b. 1877), American Democratic Party politician, Washtenaw County Surveyor, 1921-30; Washtenaw County Clerk, 1933-34 [12]
  • Gertrude Duncombe Atwell (1876-1941), American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 1928, 1936, 1940 [12]
  • George J. Atwell, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1936, 1940, 1944 [12]
  • A. J. Atwell, American politician, Member of California State Assembly 4th District, 1883-85 [12]
  • ... (Another 6 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Major George Ernest Stephen Atwell (1872-1914), Canadian Second Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who survived the sinking on the Empress of Ireland [13]
  • Mrs. Hattie Eva Atwell (1870-1914), née Frink Canadian Second Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who survived the sinking on the Empress of Ireland [13]


  1. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  2. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  3. ^ Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ Rye, Walter, A History of Norfolk. London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, 1885. Print
  6. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  7. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  8. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_convicts.pdf
  9. ^ South Australian Register Wednesday 30th May 1855. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) John Banks 1855. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/johnbanks1855.shtml
  10. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  11. ^ Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 28th September 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 10) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 16) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html


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