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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Nankivell family come from? What is the English Nankivell family crest and coat of arms? When did the Nankivell family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Nankivell family history?

The Nankivell surname was taken on from a place name in the Parish of St. Mawgan, Pyclar, Cornwall. The place name is derived from the Cornish "nans," meaning "valley," and the personal name Cuvel.


Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Nankivell, Nankevill, Nankivel, Nanskevell, Nankivel, Nankevell, Nancekievill and many more.

First found in Cornwall, where early records show that lands at St Columb Major were granted to Odoni de Nanscuvel and Rose his wife, in 1324.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Nankivell research. Another 134 words(10 lines of text) covering the years 1400, 1495, 1499, 1602, and 1620 are included under the topic Early Nankivell History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 51 words(4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Nankivell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


An examination into the immigration and passenger lists has discovered a number of people bearing the name Nankivell:

Nankivell Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • John Nankivell, who arrived in Maryland in 1833


  • Frank Nankivell (1869-1959), Australian-born, American illustrator, painter and printmaker
  • Robert Rogers Nankivell, pioneer and surveyor of New Zealand, who arrived there aboard the "Bolton" on April 21st 1840
  • Sir Rex Nankivell (1898-1977), New Zealand born, art dealer and collector in London, England
  • Joice NanKivell (1887-1982), Australian author, journalist and humanitarian


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  1. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  2. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  3. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  4. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  5. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  6. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  9. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  10. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  11. ...

The Nankivell Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Nankivell Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 7 June 2012 at 21:06.

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