Show ContentsTanswell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Tanswell is thought have originated in Normandy, France where some of the family were part of the invading force during the Norman Conquest. The Domesday Book lists Wymond de Taissel in Bed­fordshire in 1080. [1]

But some of the family remained in Normandy as the Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae lists Richard Tosel or Tossel and Ralph Tossel in Normandy 1180-1195. The same source lists Adeliza, William, Walter de Taissel or Tessel, and the parish of St. German de Tassel, Norm. 1180-1195. [2]

Alternatively the name could have been a nickname "from the Hawk [Middle English tassel (l for earlier tercel, Old French t(i)ercel, male hawk; from (with diminutive suff. -el) Old French tierce, tiers, Latin tertius, third]." [3] [4]

Another source notes that Tessall, Worcestershire may be a source of the name, [5] but this place seems to now be a lost village.

Early Origins of the Tanswell family

The surname Tanswell was first found in Bedfordshire (Old English: Bedanfordscir), where Willmund de Taissel was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. Years later, William Tasseli was found in the Curia Regis Rolls for Sussex in 1206 and Bartholomew Tassel in the Feet of Fines for Surrey 1288-1289. [4]

Early History of the Tanswell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Tanswell research. Another 78 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1548 and 1585 are included under the topic Early Tanswell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Tanswell Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Tassell, Tassel, Taisel, Taisell, Tasell, Tassle and others.

Early Notables of the Tanswell family

More information is included under the topic Early Tanswell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Tanswell migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Tanswell or a variant listed above:

Tanswell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William N Tanswell, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1830 [6]

Australia Tanswell migration to Australia +

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

Tanswell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Stephen Tanswell, English convict from Dorset, who was transported aboard the "Andromeda" on November 13, 1832, settling in New South Wales, Australia [7]
  • Mr. John Tanswell, (b. 1804), aged 29, English butcher who was convicted in Leicester, Leicestershire, England for life for burglary, transported aboard the "Aurora" on 3rd November 1833, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • James Tanswell, aged 32, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Monsoon"

Contemporary Notables of the name Tanswell (post 1700) +

  • John Tanswell (1800-1864), English archæologist, sixth and last surviving son of Stephen Cock; who married Ann Tanswell or Taswell; he assumed his mother's name


  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  3. Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  6. 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)
  7. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 27) Andromeda voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1832 with 186 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/andromeda/1832
  8. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th August 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/aurora


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