This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is from a topographical name for someone who lived by a stream, a spring or a well. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "aet", at, and "wiella", well, spring or stream, which developed into the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "atte well(e)". Topographical surname were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. It is unusual for a modern-day surname to retain the Middle English spelling, though the surname is found as Attewell, Attawell, Attwell, Attwill, Attwool, Attwel, Atwill, Attawell and Attiwill. The form Atwill is from Devonshire and Somerset, and Attwool is from Dorset. The surname was first recorded in the latter part of the 13th Century, and one Richard atte Wille was recorded in Devonshire in 1333. The Atwells were early settlers in the New World Colonies, William Atwell left London on the "Falcon" bound for the "Barbadoes" in December 1635. Recordings from London Church Registers include the marriage of Mary Attewell and William Elzy at St. Giles', Cripplegate, on May 16th 1847. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert Attewell, which was dated 1274, in the "Hundred Rolls of Essex", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.