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Surname Stilwell - Meaning and Origin

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Stilwell: What does the surname Stilwell mean?

The last name Stilwell is of Anglo-Saxon origin and derived from a place name. In Old English, the term "stille" means calm, quiet, or peaceful, and "wella" translates to a spring or stream. Thus, Stilwell could be interpreted as "quiet stream" or "calm spring." These names were often given based on geographical location, implying that the original bearers of "Stilwell" probably lived near a tranquil body of water. It is also possible that Stilwell was a habitational name, given to people from places bearing the same name in England. As with many surnames, variations exist, and for Stilwell this includes Stillwell, Stilwill, and Stywell. Although the exact origin of the surname is uncertain, it is clear that it reflects a connection to a serene and peaceful landscape.

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Stilwell: Where does the name Stilwell come from?

The last name Stilwell is most commonly found in the United States today, particularly in the New England and Midwest regions. The majority of people with the surname live in California, followed by Texas, New York, and Florida. Additionally, the last name is found in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The historical origin of the Stilwell name traces back to England, likely derived from a place-name in Kent. It was spelled in various ways, including Stillwell, Stillwill, and Stilwell.

It’s unknown exactly how many people in the United States have the Stilwell last name today, but it’s estimated that there are thousands of individuals with the surname. The number may be higher if including other forms of the spelling.

Many famous individuals have the last name Stilwell, such as Frank Stilwell, an Australian political scientist, and Joseph Warren Stilwell, an American Army lieutenant general who was active in the Pacific during World War II.

As of 2020, Stilwell is still a fairly common last name in the United States, with a presence in many parts of the world.

Variations of the surname Stilwell

The surname Stilwell has several variants, spellings and surnames of the same origin. Common variants and spellings of Stilwell include Stellwell, Stillwell, Stywell, Stilwould, and Stilwold.

Surnames of similar origin include Stilwill, Stylwill, Stilwells, Stillwills, Stoldwell, Stolwill, Staillwell, Stillwill, Stowell, and Stowe. These are old English words which often have various spellings originating from a single word with a few variations.

The Stilwell family history began in England over a thousand years ago. The original spelling of the surname was ‘stillwelle’, which is an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning a spring or well surrounded by trees or stiles. It was descriptive of someone who lived near a spring.

The Stilwells appear to have come from the northeast corner of England where the family’s ancestors settled in Warwickshire. From there, the family spread throughout the nearby counties of Worcestershire, Shropshire, and Staffordshire. By the 16th century, Stilwells had also established themselves in Yorkshire.

Other spellings of the surname Stilwell such as Stidwell, Stillwell, Stolwell, or Stowle, can also be found in England, as well as in numerous other English-speaking countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Ultimately, the Stilwell surname has many regional, variant, and derivative spellings. Whether a Stilwell, Stillwill, Stowle, or Stolwell, the family is historically linked to each other, and is likely to have originated in Warwickshire near the beginning of the first millennium.

Famous people with the name Stilwell

  • Frank Wolcott Stilwell: American Army Lieutenant General and Commander of the 4th Infantry Division from 1969 to 1972.
  • Ruth Stilwell: the first African American female physician at the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota.
  • Joe Stilwell: American Military General in World War II.
  • Wayne Stilwell: American Paralympic swimmer.
  • Ed Stilwell: American singer, songwriter and record producer.
  • J Alexander Stilwell: United States Army Major General and Director of the National Security Agency from 1977 to 1980.
  • Joseph Stilwell: United States Army Lieutenant Colonel and Medal of Honor recipient.
  • Kaleb Stilwell: American artist and musician.
  • Martin Stilwell: British poet and author.
  • Julian Stilwell: American composer.
  • Louis Stilwell: American screenwriter and producer.
  • Rob Stilwell: American trumpet player and composer.
  • Terrence Stilwell: Canadian actor.
  • Chet Stilwell: American basketball player.
  • Arthur Stilwell: American entrepreneur and founder of Kansas City Southern Railway.

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