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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: Dutch, English, French

Gravel is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Gravel family lived in the place named Grenneville in the barony of St. Denis de Gaste, Normandy. The family name Gravel was brought to England after the Norman Conquest, when William the Conqueror gave his friends and relatives most of the land formerly owned by Anglo-Saxon aristocrats. The Normans frequently used the name of their estate in Normandy as part of their name. The surname Gravel was established by Norman landholders in the county of Buckinghamshire.


The surname Gravel was first found in Buckinghamshire where they held a family seat soon after the Norman Conquest. They are believed to be from Grenneville in the barony of St. Denis de Gaste in the Cotentin in Normandy. Accompanying the Conqueror at Hastings in 1066 the family, father William and son Robert, became under-tenants of the Giffards in Buckinghamshire. Richard, son of Robert, married Isabel, daughter and heiress of Gautier Giffard, Earl of Buckingham, thus inheriting the title which would later become the Duke of Buckingham. Although the Harleian Society claims there is no relationship to the west country Grevilles in Gloucester, a branch which emerged about 1250, we find this most unlikely. The similarity of the Coat of Arms of each of these families is more than conclusive evidence that the Grevilles of Gloucester were directly related to the Grenvilles of Buckinghamshire, although it must be admitted there was a noble family of Lagravol or Greville in Montfaucon-du-Velay in Forez also emerging in the 13th century.

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Greville, Grevill, Graville, Gravill, Gravell, Gravelle, Gravel, Grevil, Grevile, Gravile and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gravel research. Another 311 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1250, 1267, 1607, 1643, 1628, 1658, 1643, 1658, 1677, 1720, 1699, 1701, 1701 and 1705 are included under the topic Early Gravel History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir Edward Greville of Milcote; Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke (1607-1643), an English Civil War Roundhead General, the cousin and adopted son of Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, owner of Warwick Castle, Parliament for Warwickshire (1628), reportedly shot by a...

Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gravel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Gravel or a variant listed above:

Gravel Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • John Gravel, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1828
  • Franz W Gravel, aged 37, landed in Baltimore, Maryland in 1839

Gravel Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century

  • Joseph-Massé Gravel who arrived in Quebec from Brittany in 1641

  • Camille Francis Gravel Jr. (1915-2005), American lawyer and politician from Louisiana, adviser to Governors Earl Kemp Long, John McKeithen, and Edwin Washington Edwards
  • Maurice Robert "Mike" Gravel (b. 1930), American former politician, United States Senator from Alaska (1969-1981), 3rd Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives (1965-1967)
  • Maurice Robert Gravel (b. 1930), American Democrat politician, Member of Alaska State House of Representatives, 1963-66; Speaker of the Alaska State House of Representatives, 1965-66
  • Leonard J. Gravel, American politician, Candidate for Presidential Elector for Vermont, 1948
  • Camille Francis Gravel Jr. (1915-2005), American Democrat politician, Member of Democratic National Committee from Louisiana, 1954; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Louisiana, 1956
  • Louis-Pierre Gravel (1868-1926), French Canadian missionary and who founded the town of Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan
  • Evens Gravel (b. 1970), French Canadian fencer at the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics
  • Elphège Gravel (1838-1904), French Canadian Roman Catholic priest, 1st Bishop of Nicolet, Québec (1885-1904)
  • Michel Gravel (b. 1939), French Canadian former politician, Member of the Canadian Parliament for Gamelin (1984-1988)
  • John Gravel (b. 1941), Canadian former WHA ice hockey defenceman
  • ...

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    Other References

    1. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
    2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
    3. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
    4. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    5. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
    6. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
    7. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
    8. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
    9. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
    10. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
    11. ...

    The Gravel Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Gravel 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 1 December 2015 at 15:33.

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