Show ContentsKerswell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Atlantic Ocean to the north and west and the English Channel to the south borders Cornwall, the homeland to the Kerswell family name. Even though the usage of surnames was common during the Middle Ages, all English people were known only by a single name in early times. The manner in which hereditary surnames arose is interesting. Local surnames are derived from where the original bearer lived, was born, or held land. The Kerswell family originally lived in the county of Devon, at Kerswell.

Early Origins of the Kerswell family

The surname Kerswell was first found in the county of Devon, at Abbot's Kerswell, or King's Kerswell, parishes, in the union of Newton-Abbott, hundred of Haytor. [1]

It was here that the first record of the family was found, namely Basilia de Caswella in the Pipe Rolls of 1165. A few years later, Tomas de Cressewella was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Staffordshire in 1190 and Riginald de Kersewell was listed in the Curia Regis Rolls for Oxfordshire in 1212. In Worcestershire, we found William de Kereswell in the Assize Rolls for 1221 and back in Devon, Richard de Carswall and William de Karswille were listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1275. In Somerset, Robert de Carswell was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of 1327. [2]

"Kerswell of Kerswell is noticed by Norden, as being one of the principal houses of his day, but we have not been able to ascertain in what part of the county Kerswell was situated." [3]

In Scotland, the name was typically began with a "C", but some records show that the "K" was frequented too. "William Kersseuyle or Cresseuyle had confirmation of a charter of lands in the barony of Roberton in the sheriffdom of Lanark, 1373. Johannes de Kerswell witnessed a notarial instrument in 1413." [4]

Early History of the Kerswell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kerswell research. Another 100 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1212, 1221, 1273, 1598 and 1682 are included under the topic Early Kerswell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kerswell Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Kerswell, Kersewell, Kereswell, Kareswalle and many more.

Early Notables of the Kerswell family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Kerswell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Kerswell migration to the United States +

The records on immigrants and ships' passengers show a number of people bearing the name Kerswell:

Kerswell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Richard Kerswell, who settled in Nevis in 1663
  • Walter Kerswell, who arrived in Virginia in 1663

Australia Kerswell migration to Australia +

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

Kerswell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Kerswell, aged 20, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Florentia" [5]
  • William Kerswell, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Florentia" in 1849 [5]
  • Maria Kerswell, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Florentia" in 1849 [5]
  • Mr. John Kerswell, Welsh convict who was convicted in Swansea, Wales for 15 years, transported aboard the "Cornwall" on 28th February 1851, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [6]

West Indies Kerswell migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [7]
Kerswell Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Robert Kerswell, who sailed to Barbados in 1654
  • Joane Kerswell, who went to Jamaica in 1684

Contemporary Notables of the name Kerswell (post 1700) +

  • Lyman Kerswell, American Republican politician, Chair of Gladwin County Republican Party, 1950 [8]
  • Henry Grant Kerswell (b. 1978), British opera singer
  • Sarah Kerswell (b. 1965), British swimmer who competed in the women's 400 metre individual medley at the 1980 Summer Olympics and the individual medley events and the 400 metres freestyle, at the 1982 Commonwealth Games
  • Richard Kerswell FRS, British fluid mechanics scientist and the G. I. Taylor Professor of Fluid Mechanics, elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 2012

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 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. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. 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)
  5. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) FLORENTIA 1849. Retrieved from
  6. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 11th March 2021). Retrieved from
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 7) . Retrieved from on Facebook