Clafell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
Clarvaile, or Claville, was one of the Barons of the Domesday. " Which of the places in Normandy called Claville gave name to this family has not been discovered, but there is a village of that name in the Campagne de Neubourg, a little to the west of Evreux, from which it is rather more probable they sprung than from Claville Motteville in the arrondissement of Rouen, mentioned as their original seat, because a great majority of the followers of the Conqueror were drawn from that part of the Duchy that lies Southwards of the river Seine." 
Clavelshay, or Clavelsleigh, now called Classey, in Somersetshire, took its name from some Clavilles who had considerable possessions in that neighbourhood.
Early Origins of the Clafell family
The surname Clafell was first found in Dorset where Walter de Clavile was listed as a tenant in chief in Dorset and Devon in the Domesday Book.  "His male descendants continued to possess lands in the former county till 1774." 
A descendant by the same name with different spelling is noted: "At Canonleigh, in Burlescombe, not far from the Somersetshire border, are the remains of a monastery, originally founded by Walter Claville, temp. Henry II., for a prior and Austin canons." 
A few years later, John Clavel was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Sussex in 1218, Robert Clauel and William Clauel were listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296 and 1327 respectively.
The name is derived form the Old French word "clavel," which means "keystone of an arch, lintel over a fireplace, especially a beam of wood so used." 
The family claim descent from "a baronial family near Clavel, near Rouen [Normandy]. Walter de Clavel held 37 lordships in barony, Devon. In 1165, Walter de Clavel held 10 fees of the Honour of Gloucester. Lomen-Claville was the seat of the barony in Devon. Ralph de Clavel of this family held a fief in Dorset from Alured de Lincoln [in the] 13 century. Various branches of the family continued for ages in Dorset. " 
Clavell Tower, also known as Clavell Folly or the Kimmeridge Tower, is a Tuscan style tower built in 1830 by Reverend John Richards Clavell of Smedmore House as an observatory and folly. Born John Richards, the Reverend changed his name to John Richards Clavell after inheriting the estate in 1817. Clavell Tower was the site where Thomas Hardy, the novelist, often took his first love Eliza Nicholl and the tower was the inspiration for Baroness P. D. James's prize winning 1975 novel The Black Tower. Clavell Tower is now owned by The Landmark Trust.
Early History of the Clafell family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Clafell research. Another 157 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1218, 1296, 1327, 1510, 1600, 1451, 1166, 1539, 1455, 1487, 1632, 1711, 1711, 1601, 1643, 1625, 1627, 1627, 1639, 1677 and 1677 are included under the topic Early Clafell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Clafell Spelling Variations
Spelling variations of this family name include: Clavill, Clavell, Claville, Clavile, Clefell, Clafell, Clafile, Clavall, Claville, Clafall, Clavel, Clevell, Cleville, Clevill and many more.
Early Notables of the Clafell family (pre 1700)
Distinguished members of the family include Robert Clavell (1632-1711), a London bookseller, born at Steeple, Dorset. He also authored treatises. He died at Islington in 1711 and in his will, he was listed as a "citizen and stationer of London."
John Clavell (1601-1643) was an English highwayman, author, lawyer, and doctor. In 1625, Clavell was imprisoned in King's Bench Prison as a convicted felon. After serving his time in 1627, he was apprehended, found guilty and sentenced to death. He was pardoned in 1627, thanks to the King and Queen. He fled to Ireland where he married a Dublin heiress, who was...
Migration of the Clafell family
Some of the first settlers of this family name or some of its variants were: the name represented in many forms and recorded from the mid 17th century in the great migration from Europe. Migrants settled in the eastern seaboard from Newfoundland, to Maine, to Virginia, the Carolinas, and to the islands..