Colwill History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Today's generation of the Colwill family bears a name that was brought to England by the migration wave that was started by the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Colwill family lived in Colton. There are places named Colton in Staffordshire and Norfolk. The family claim descent from Gilbert de Colleville, who lived in Coleville, a town in Normandy.

Early Origins of the Colwill family

The surname Colwill was first found in Suffolk, where they held a family seat from early times. They were descended from Gilbert de Colleville (Colavilla, Colvile) from Coleville, a town between Caen and Bayeux in Normandy. He accompanied Duke William from Normandy and had two sons. [1]

From Gilbert and William the English Barons of Colleville are descended. William held lands in Yorkshire. His eldest son Phillip acquired the lands of Ancroft in Northumberland, and from him are descended the Lords of Colville in Scotland.

Searching other records, we found Thomas de Colevill who was listed as a witness to many documents in the late 1100s, as well as being mentioned in a perambulation of the marches of Elstaneshalche in 1181. A Thomas de Colouilla, who may or may not be the same man, was charged with treason in 1211. [2]

In Scotland, Ada de Coleuyll generously gave the lands of Kynnard in Fife to the monks of the Abbey of Neubotle in 1241 and Thomas de Coleville, who lived in Dumfriesshire rendered homage to King Edward I on his invasion of Scotland in 1296. Robert de Colvylle of Scotland was rewarded for extreme courage and steady obedience in 1358; he was granted an annuity of 20 marks from the customs of Kingston on Hulle. [3]

Richard de Collewele was listed in the Assize Rolls of Somerset in 1268 and Robert de Kolewell was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296. [2]

Early History of the Colwill family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Colwill research. Another 101 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1174, 1296, 1358, 1337, 1394, 1377, 1384, 1385, 1390, 1393, 1540, 1605, 1551, 1629, 1604, 1675, 1662, 1675, 1690, 1813, 1898 and 1871 are included under the topic Early Colwill History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Colwill Spelling Variations

Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, Norman French and other languages became incorporated into English throughout the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Colwill include Colville, Coleville, Colevile, Colwell, Colwill, Collwell, Collwill, Colewell, Colewill, Caulville, Caulwell and many more.

Early Notables of the Colwill family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir John Colville (c.1337-1394), of Newton, Cambridgeshire and Walsoken, Norfolk, Member of the Parliament for Cambridgeshire in 1377, 1384, 1385, 1390 and 1393; John Colville (c.1540-1605), a Scottish clergyman, judge, politician and author who was implicated in the Earl of Bothwell's attack on Holyrood Palace, and was outlawed with the earl, he died in exile in Paris; James Colville (1551-1629), 1st Lord Colville of Culross in 1604; William Colvill, (Colville) (died 1675), a Scottish clergyman and scholar and was the Principal of the University of Edinburgh (1662 to 1675); Daniel Colwall (died 1690)...
Another 112 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Colwill Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Colwill family to Ireland

Some of the Colwill family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Colwill migration to the United States +

In England at this time, the uncertainty of the political and religious environment of the time caused many families to board ships for distant British colonies in the hopes of finding land and opportunity, and escaping persecution. The voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, though, and many arrived in North America sick, starved, and destitute. Those who did make it, however, were greeted with greater opportunities and freedoms that they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Early immigration records have shown some of the first Colwills to arrive on North American shores:

Colwill Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Colwill, (b. 1875), aged 23, Cornish labourer travelling aboard the ship "Lucania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 30th April 1898 en route to Cleveland, Ohio, USA [4]
Colwill Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mr. William Colwill, (b. 1873), aged 32, Cornish labourer travelling aboard the ship "Lucania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 13th May 1905 en route to Norway, Michigan, USA [4]

Australia Colwill migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Colwill Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Fred. Colwill, aged 35, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Himalaya" [5]
  • Susan Colwill, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Harry Lorrequer" in 1849 [6]
  • John Orchard Colwill, aged 53, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Henry Moore"
  • Charles Colwill, aged 17, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Henry Moore"
  • William Colwill, aged 14, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Henry Moore"

New Zealand Colwill migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Colwill Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John P. Colwill, aged 24, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Maraval" in 1879
  • Mary E. Colwill, aged 22, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Maraval" in 1879
  • William A. Colwill, aged 3, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Maraval" in 1879
  • Mr. William A. Colwill, (b. 1858), aged 20, Cornish shoemaker departing on 18th November 1878 aboard the ship "Boyne" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 26th February 1879 [7]
  • Mr. Edward Jonathan Colwill, (b. 1877), aged 1, Cornish settler departing on 15th October 1878 aboard the ship "Maraval" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 17th January 1879, he died on board on the 11th December 1878 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Colwill (post 1700) +

  • Ms. Robyn Leigh Colwill B.E.M., British Probation Officer for National Probation Service South West Central Division, was appointed Medallist of the British Empire Medal 29th December 2018 for voluntary service in Plymouth [9]


  1. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The HIMALAYA 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Himalaya.htm
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) HARRY LORREQUER 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849HarryLorrequer.htm
  7. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to Lyttelton 1858-84 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf
  8. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to Auckland 1872-80 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf
  9. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62507, 28 December 2018 | London Gazette, The Gazette, Dec. 2018, www.thegazette.co.uk/honours-lists


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