Show ContentsAbell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Abell was brought to England in the great wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. It comes from the given name Hevel, which means evanescence. It is also possibly derived from an Old German word which means noble one. The surname Abell was also a baptismal name meaning the son of Abel, and became a popular 13th century name meaning son.1

There may be a Norman connection of the family too, as there in the Mémoires de la Society des Antiquaires de la Normandie, John de Aubeale was security in Normandy, 1200, for Roger de Plomes. 2

Early Origins of the Abell family

The surname Abell was first found in the counties of Kent, Derbyshire and Essex.

"N. Abel held lands from Lanfranc in Kent 1086 3; and 'Joh' Abel et Consorti Sue' were among the Kentish gentry summoned by a writ of Edward I. in the first year of his reign 'to be present at his and the Queen's coronation at Westminster on the Sunday next after the feast of St. Valentine the Martyr.' " 4

"Abell was also an Essex family, although branches spread into the counties of Kent and Derby." 5

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 elude to the scattered influence of the family at that time, both as a surname and a forename: Richard Abel, Buckinghamshire; Abel le Specer. Derbyshire; Henry Abel, Nottinghamshire; and Allan Abel, Cambridgeshire. 6

Early records of the name mention Abel de Etton, 1221, Wales and William Abell was documented in County Essex in the year of 1197. Richard Abell was documented in the County Somerset, 1300. 1

Scotland was a familiar home to the family too. Abel (d. 764), Archbishop of Rheims, "was a native of Scotland and Benedictine monk. In the early part of the eighth century he left England in company with Boniface, to aid him in his missionary work in Germany, and he did not again return to this country. " 7

Still in Scotland, we found "Master Abell, Clericus Regis, was one of the members of a mission sent to England to ask restoration of the earldom of Huntingdon in 1237. He also appears in documents concerning the Abbey of Kelso in 1235, and in 1253 'valuing his own promotion more than the honour of the king or kingdom caused himself to be consecrated bishop by the pope.' " 8

Early History of the Abell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Abell research. Another 223 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1387, 1388, 1413, 1430, 1512, 1516, 1528, 1540, 1578, 1584, 1623, 1633, 1635, 1655, 1660, 1667, 1675, 1679, 1681, 1696, 1697, 1711, 1714, 1716, 1827, 1854, 1858, 1861, 1887, 1888 and 1902 are included under the topic Early Abell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Abell Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Abell, Abel, Able, Habel, Abeel, Abelson, Abelle, Abele, Ablson, Ebelson, Abill, Abilson, Aball, Abeal, Eblson and many more.

Early Notables of the Abell family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • Thomas Abell (d. 1540), Catholic martyr who studied at Oxford and took the degree of M.A. in 1516. "Nothing else is known of his early life, nor when it was that he entered the service of Katharine of...
  • William Abell (ca. 1584-1655), was an English vintner who became Master of the Vintners' Company, Sheriff of London. He was associated with a controversy over the manner and terms on which a monopoly...

Abell Ranking

In the United States, the name Abell is the 4,143rd most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. 9

United States Abell migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Abell or a variant listed above were:

Abell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Robert Abell (1605-1663), English settler from Stapenhill, Derbyshire who landed in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1630 aboard the ship "Ambrose" as part of the Winthrop Fleet 10
  • Peter Abell, who landed in Long Island in 1656 10
  • James Abell, who arrived in Maryland in 1664 10
  • Joseph Abell, who landed in Maryland in 1667 10
  • Macklett Abell, who arrived in Maryland in 1667 10
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Abell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Hans Jacob Abell, who landed in New York in 1709 10
Abell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • E S Abell, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 10
  • R Abell, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 10

West Indies Abell migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. 11
Abell Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Robert Abell, aged 28, who landed in Antigua (Antego) in 1683 10

Contemporary Notables of the name Abell (post 1700) +

  • Charles S Abell, American Army Lieutenant-Colonel, appointed Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (2002)
  • George Ogden Abell, American astronomer at UCLA
  • Sam Abell (b. 1945), American (New York) photographer who has worked with the National Geographic Society since 1970
  • Sir Frederick Abell, noted English Chemist
  • Sir Fredrick Augustus Abell (1827-1902), British scientist and inventor who developed explosives
  • Welton Ralph Abell (1922-1998), American Navy Cross recipient
  • Tim Abell (b. 1968), American actor
  • Chris Abell (b. 1957), British biological chemist
  • Kjeld Abell (1901-1961), Danish playwright
  • Jane Abell Coon (b. 1929), American politician, U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, 1981-84 12

The Abell Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Vive le Roi
Motto Translation: Long life to the King.

Suggested Readings for the name Abell +

  • The Abell Family of St. Mary's County, Maryland and the American Revolution by William Russell Abell.
  • Heirs of Eleanor Abell and Thomas Greenwell by Tillie Whelan Onischak.

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 1 of 3
  5. Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  6. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  7. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  8. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  9. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  10. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  12. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 12) . Retrieved from on Facebook