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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com 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.

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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.

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.


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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.

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Another 175 words (12 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gravel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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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

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  • 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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  1. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  2. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  3. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  4. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  5. 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).
  6. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  7. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  8. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  9. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  10. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  11. ...

The Gravel Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com 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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