This story comes to us from R. Gordon Nodwell, descendant of William Nodwell. Though I do not know the original date of his writing, the copy which he sent to me is marked as revised in January, 1995. Gordon lived in Canada, and I met him through a genealogy forum around 2001. He is a most knowledgeable Nodwell researcher, without whose efforts I would have been stumped in the second generation back from my husband.
The Nodwells in Ireland and Canada
The earliest record of people with the name Nodwell in Ireland that I have been able to find is in the list of rents paid in the manor of Castledawson in the period after 1725. Matthew Nodwell and William Nodwell are reported as rent payers in those years (the rent seems to have been two pounds, but there is no clear indication as to the period which that covers). In a list of residents in the parish of Magherafelt (which apparently included the manor of Castledawson) in 1766, the same two names appear with the addition of a third -- William the younger. It is interesting to note that one entry lists part of the rent for William Nodwell as "work for Mr. Berkeley ... and to hewing shiags to ye Chapell."
How came these people to this place?
It is clear that they came to Ireland from England. baptismal and marriage records show people of this name in cornwall and Devon and in Londong and Hertfordshire. In the Cornwall and Devon area the predominant spelling of the name is Notwell, with variants, Nutwill or Nuttwell. (No doubt the clergy who recorded these events were not especially particular about spelling.) I have found records of 85 baptisms and 35 marriages between 1660 and 1872 in these two counties. The predominant names are John, Robert, Thomas and William, with a Christopher, Francis, Stephen and Nicholas thrown in. The females are named after their mothers and are therefore more varied.
In London and Hertford the spelling of the name is usually Nodwell with occasional variations of Nuttwell or Notwell. Common first names are Joh, Francis and Matthew, with one Robert, one James, a George and an Edmund. I have found records of 44 baptisms and 14 marriages between 1597 and 1790.