Churchell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Churchell came to England with the ancestors of the Churchell family in the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Churchell family lived in Somerset in the town of Curcelle. The name Curcelle is of Norman origin, but once in England became confused with name Churchill, which derives from the Old English cyrice, which means church, and hyll, which means hill. The histories of the two names are now inextricably linked.

"The Churchills of Dorset, ancestors of the great Duke of Marlborough, are traceable, by the ordinary heralds' pedigrees, to the reign of Henry VII., bearing a lion rampant, debruised by a bendlet. Prior to this, they were of Devon and Somerset, still bearing the same arms. The Churchills of Devon descended from Elias de Chirchille, temp. Edward I. who married the heiress of Widworthy." [1]

Early Origins of the Churchell family

The surname Churchell was first found in Somerset where one of the first records of the name was Richard de Churchulle who was listed there in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273. During King Edward III's reign (1327-1377), Nicolas de Churchhull was also listed as holding lands there. [2]

Another source claims "the distinguished Dorset family of Churchill, whence sprang the Duke of Marlborough, resided at Mintern in the 16th and 17th centuries." [3] And another claims "Roger de Corcelles [was] a great Domesday tenant in the western counties, the ancestor of the Dukes of Marlborough. Churchill has, however, a sufficiently English aspect, and as we find four parishes in different counties so called, we need hardly seek for a Norman origin." [4]

This latter quote needs some explanation. The author (Mark Anthony Lower) argues that while yet another source claims the name to be Norman in origin, he feels that the name is presumably Anglo-Saxon in origin. To us, the lion's share of sources claim that the family is of Norman origin and we agree.

Early History of the Churchell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Churchell research. Another 110 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1086, 1620, 1688, 1622, 1682, 1661, 1679, 1656, 1714, 1650, 1722, 1686 and 1703 are included under the topic Early Churchell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Churchell Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Churchill, Churchell and others.

Early Notables of the Churchell family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir Winston Churchill FRS (1620-1688), known as the Cavalier Colonel, an English soldier, historian, and politician, ancestor of his 20th-century namesake, Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill; John Churchill (1622-1682), an English politician, Member of Parliament for Dorchester...
Another 45 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Churchell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Churchell migration to the United States +

Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Churchell or a variant listed above:

Churchell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Robert Churchell, who arrived in New England in 1671 [5]

The Churchell 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: Fiel pero disdichado
Motto Translation: Faithful though unfortunate.

  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  4. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. ^ 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) on Facebook
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