This ancient name, found chiefly in Northern England and Scotland, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century male personal name "Osweald", composed of the elements "os", a god, and "weald", power. The given name is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Osuuald(us), Osuuold(us)" and "Osuuol", and by the early medieval period in England the native English name had fallen together with the less common Old Norse form, "Asvaldr". St. Oswald (605 - 642), King of Northumbria, and St. Oswald (died 992), Archbishop of York, helped to establish the popularity of the personal name in England, and also in Germany, where Celtic Missionaries reported the fame of the Northumbrian king and saint. The given name has never gone out of use, in common with most other Anglo-Saxon names with "Os" as the first element, such as Oscar and Osmond. The surname forms generated from Oswald include Osswald, Oswill and Oswell. One John Oswald is listed in the Sussex Subsidy Rolls of 1327, and in Scotland, James Oswald was recorded as a notary in Coldstream in 1665. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name depicts a gold cross between four gold lions rampant on a blue shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon Aswald, which was dated 1279, in the "Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire", 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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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