This unusual and interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, it can be a topographical or a locational surname. If the former, the name denotes residence by a spring or stream in a shallow valley, derived from the Old English pre 7th Century "byde(n)", vessel, tub, used in the sense of a shallow valley, with Wella, waella", well, spring or stream. As a locational surname, Bedwell, and it's variant forms Bidewell and Bid(d)well, may derive from any of various minor places, in Herfordshire and Essex for instance which are named with the Old English elements as above. Bedwell in Hertfordshire is recorded as "Bedewell" in 1240, and as "Bidewelle" in 1330, and Bidwell in Bedfordshire as "Bedwell" in 1279. Thomas Bedwell (deceased 1595), was a distinguished mathematician, and military engineer at Tilbury and gravesend at the time of the Spanish Armada. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Stephen de Bedewell, which was dated 1229, The Essex Close Rolls, during the reign of Henry 111, "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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.