Holwell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The present generation of the Holwell family is only the most recent to bear a name that dates back to the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. Their name comes from having lived near a holy spring having derived from the Old English terms halli, which meant holy, and welle, which meant spring. [1]

There are several place-names that are also derived from these words, including Halliwell in Lancashire, Holwell in Dorset and Oxfordshire, and Holywell and Northumberland.

Early Origins of the Holwell family

The surname Holwell was first found in Lancashire at Halliwell, a township, and ecclesiastical district, in the parish of Deane, union of Bolton, hundred of Salford. " The first mention of Halliwell occurs in the 17th year of the reign of John, when the abbot of Cockersand had an exemption from fines and amerciaments, by a charter of that date from the king." [2]

Hollowell is a hamlet, in the parish and hundred of Guilsborough, union of Brixworth, S. division of the county of Northampton. "The former of these two places has made Halliwell a familiar surname in South Lancashire." [3]

However, by the time of the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 the name was scattered throughout ancient Britain: Adam de Holewell, Norfolk; Simon de Holewell, Bedfordshire; John de Holowell, Buckinghamshire; Godfrey de Haliwell, London; and Richard de Holewell, Huntingdonshire. [3]

In Somerset, John de Holewell and Edith atte Holywelle were both listed 1 Edward III (in other words during the first year of King Edward III's reign). [4]

Further to the south in Devon, the Testa de Nevill, sive Liber Feodorum, temp. Henry III- Edward I listed William de Halegewelle. [5]

Later in Scotland, Halywell is mentioned in Berwick Retours and Thomas de Halywell was superior of the Abbey of Kelso in 1465. "Robert Halywell was notary public in St. Andrews diocese, 1473. Thomas Halywell, a Scot born at Grynlawe, in 1480 had letters of denization in England, John Halywell was killed in 1535 and William Halywell was burgess of Linlithgow, 1537." [6]

Early History of the Holwell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Holwell research. Another 75 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1535, 1548, 1564, 1649, 1686, 1655, 1676, 1744 and 1676 are included under the topic Early Holwell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Holwell Spelling Variations

Until the dictionary, an invention of only the last few hundred years, the English language lacked any comprehensive system of spelling rules. Consequently, spelling variations in names are frequently found in early Anglo-Saxon and later Anglo-Norman documents. One person's name was often spelled several different ways over a lifetime. The recorded variations of Holwell include Halliwell, Halligwell, Haliwell and others.

Early Notables of the Holwell family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Oibert Halliwell of Halliwell; and Edward Halliwell, English fellow of King's College, Cambridge from 1535 to 1548 who wrote the lost tragedy, Dido, which was performed before Queen Elizabeth I during her royal visit to the university on 7 August 1564. John Holwell (1649-1686) was an English astrologer and mathematician. He claimed descent from the Holwells of Holwell House, near Tavistock, Devon, and his father and...
Another 74 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Holwell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Holwell migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families boarded ships sailing to the New World in the hope of escaping the unrest found in England at this time. Although the search for opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad took the lives of many because of the cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels, the opportunity perceived in the growing colonies of North America beckoned. Many of the settlers who survived the journey went on to make important contributions to the transplanted cultures of their adopted countries. The Holwell were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

Holwell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Tho Holwell, who arrived in Virginia in 1653 [7]
Holwell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Holwell, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1813 [7]
  • John Holwell, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1813 [7]
  • Eph Geo Holwell, aged 36, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1833 [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name Holwell (post 1700) +

  • Richard James Holwell (b. 1946), American former United States federal judge for the Southern District of New York (2002-2012)
  • William Holwell (1726-1798), English cleric and writer, eldest son of William Holwell, esq., of Exeter, and Ann Blackall, daughter of Ofspring Blackall [8]
  • John Zephaniah Holwell FRS (1711-1798), Irish-born, English surgeon, an employee of the English East India Company, and Governor of Bengal in 1760, a survivor of the Black Hole of Calcutta, June 1756, a monument of him is erected in Calcutta [8]
  • David Holwell (b. 1976), New Zealand rugby union fly half who played from 1995 to 2007


  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  5. ^ Testa de Nevill or "Liber Feodorum" or "Book of Fees," thought to have been written by Ralph de Nevill, for King John (1199–1216)
  6. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  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. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 4 August 2020


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