Origins of the Dadswell name
Odo and Dodo were two monks who each dug a well
and called the places after themselves -
Odo’s Well (Owdeswell) and Dodo’s Well (Dowdeswell)
While the obscure legend quoted above may not be a reliable source for the origin of 'Dadswell', the name may well derive from the manor or village of Dowdeswell, in Gloucestershire, England.
It can be traced back to ca 781 where it is found in Anglo-Saxon charters.
In the charters of Worcester Monastery is found:
Abbot Hedda conferred out of his own inheritance Dogedes Well, Tyrltun and Onnand of the Episcopal Church of Wigorn, for the good of his soul and that of his kinsman, Heathored.(1)
Also, in Cartularium Saxonicum is found:
#283, Reversionary Grant by Headda, Abbot to Worcester Monastery, of land at Dowdeswell, co Glouc. etc. AD781-798 (2)
The name has undergone changes and variations of spellings throughout the years — for example: Dogedeswyllan, 781-798; Dodesuuelle, Doomsday Book 1086; Doddeswell, 1226; and other variants down the years.
Doudeswell, the surname spelling of ancestor Robert, is as recorded in the Rotherfield, Sussex, parish registers, and the evolution of the name to Dadswell can be seen in the registers from Doudeswell to Doudswell to Dodeswell to Dodswell to Dadswell.
If this indeed is the source of the name, then 'Dadswell' almost did not come into existence. Robert Doudeswell had only one surviving son, Robert Doudeswell, who only had one surviving son, Edward Dodswell.
Fortunately for the survival of the name, Edward and his wife Elizabeth (Elliott) produced eight sons, thus resulting in a significant number of family members who eventually were known as Dadswell.
It is believed Edward’s grandson Edward was the first to sign as Dadswell in parish registers.
A variant of Dadswell, often seen in some earlier records such as census returns, is Dodswell. If this spelling is found in records with any connection to Sussex people, it usually refers to a Doudeswell descendant.
Other name theories
Close to Rotherfield where many members of the Dadswell family have lived is a hamlet called Duddleswell (present day pronunciation = Dudd-alls-well). The family name could well be a contraction of this name.
Another thought is that the name stems from the village of Dodwell in Warwickshire (near Stratford-upon-Avon). The origin of Dodwell is thought to be probably 7th century Olde English, from the personal name "Dodda", popular at the time, and "waella", a spring.
Picture: Dowdeswell Court in Lower Dowdeswell in Gloucestershire - photograph by Adrian Sherratt.
Family tree - Robert Doudeswell and some descendants
Index of names on this website