Welcome to the Stilwell website

This website is for all Stilwell/Stillwells throughout the world. There are not many of us out there so research into the family trees has been able to be carried out with some accuracy - particularly in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. All the facts on this website have been collected by enthusiatic and extremely knowledgeable volunteers who have provided a wealth of information. Please read the website in the spirit in which it has been created - to provide family history researchers with a central place to go for all information about the Stilwell/Stillwells.

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The Stilwell Origins

surrey-sussexAll true Stilwell/Stillwells are related. The name is a single-source one and originates from near Godalming in Surrey, England. The original spelling was Stylewell, and means "pure spring" and is named after two springs in the area of Bowlhead Green in Thursley, near Godalming. These springs are called "High Stilwell" and "Nether Stilwell". The former is still a village pond in Bowlhead Green but the latter spring has since been piped into a lake. The first record of the name "Stilwell" is in 1235 in the Godalming Court records where a "Ricardus de Stiyelewell" is recorded. Later records that exist for the name until the early 1500's are all in the same area. In 1515, baptisms of Stilwells are recorded in nearby Dorking, and this branch of the family grew in the area and ultimately became successful. Almost all the records up until 1600 are for families in Surrey. There are a few families just across the county border in Hampshire and Sussex and two families in Holborn, London (who originally came from Dorking). By the mid 1700's a few more Stilwell families had moved to London (mainly to Stepney/Whitechapel) and others inevitably followed in search of work and wealth.

Until the arrival of the Railways in the early 1800's, the name "Stilwell" does not appear anywhere in England apart from Surrey, Sussex, London and south Hampshire. The mis-spelling of "Stillwell" mainly occurred in the London baptisms where the name was recorded phonetically in churches where the family had no roots and so the correct spelling was unknown by the church officials recording the details. The mis-spelling extends to the Stillaway surname. This unusual spelling can be found in the 1700 and 1800s in Surrey and Sussex. Although many can be proved to be mis-spellings of Stilwell/Stillwell there are some, particularly originating from Henfield in Sussex, that cannot categorically be proved to be Stilwells, but they almost certainly are. Most Stillaways have reverted the spelling back to Stilwell or Stillwell, but a few families retained the misspelling. That surname is extremely rare in Britain today. See the Stillaway page under "Families" menu item.

This website is aimed at providing details of the Stilwell/Stillwell/Stillaway families and history to fellow "Stilwells". The information is as accurate as it can be with any historical research, and is a culmination of many years of research into the family by the author and other like-minded family members. The information is freely available to you, but if you are going to use any of my words please ensure you quote my name and this website both to protect yourself and promote myself.

Martin Stilwell. Woking, Surrey, England

Use the links in the drop-down menus above to navigate around the web pages. There are a large number of Stilwell/Stillwells in the USA and the majority of these fine folk are descended from a Nicholas Stilwell who settled in Virginia in the early 1600's. Nicholas' roots are controversial and are covered in the "USA Stilwells" page. All Stilwells will know that we do not have many famous ancestors. General "Vinegar Joe" is the most well known, but there are a few others, including Frank Stilwell who reputedly killed Wyatt Earp's brother. Go to the "Famous Stilwells" link in the menu above.