Kestel History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The illustrious surname Kestel finds its origin in the rocky, sea swept coastal area of southwestern England known as Cornwall. Although surnames were fairly widespread in medieval England, people were originally known only by a single name. The process by which hereditary surnames were adopted is extremely interesting. As populations grew, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Lords and their tenants often became known by the name of the feudal territory they owned or lived on. Unlike most Celtic peoples, who favored patronymic names, the Cornish predominantly used local surnames. This was due to the heavy political and cultural influence of the English upon the Cornish People at the time that surnames first came into use. Local surnames were derived from where a person lived, held land, or was born. While many Cornish surnames of this sort appear to be topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees, many are actually habitation surnames derived from lost or unrecorded place names. The name Kestel is a local type of surname and the Kestel family lived in the county of Cornwall, in the village of Kestell.

Early Origins of the Kestel family

The surname Kestel was first found in Cornwall, where the family are known to have been resident at Kestell, in the parish of Egoshayle from the time of King John till the year 1737. [1]

"The manor of Kestell or Kestle in the [parish of Manccan, Cornwall], was formerly the property of a family thus named, and on which they had their seat. This family becoming extinct in the male line in 1719, the barton passed in moieties with two daughters, who married Langford and Penrose. " [2] Now known as Kestle and Kestle Mill, these hamlets are just south of Quintrell Downs.

"The manor of Pendavy, [in the parish of Egloshayle] which was formerly connected with the priory of Bodmin, was afterwards the property of the Kestel family, from whom it passed by marriage to that of Moyle, and by this family it was sold to the Usticks, by whom it was possessed in the days of Hals. It is now the property of Sir A. O. Molesworth. Kestel, which is so called from its having had on some of its lands, a camp, castle, or intrenchment, belonged so early as the reign of King John, to a family bearing its own name. In this family it continued until the year 1734, when it was sold by James Kestel, Esq." [2]

Early History of the Kestel family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kestel research. Another 111 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1199, 1216, 1737, 1272, 1307 and 1700 are included under the topic Early Kestel History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kestel 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 Kestle, Kestell, Kestel, Kestelle, Kessel, Kessal and many more.

Early Notables of the Kestel family (pre 1700)

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


United States Kestel migration to the United States +

An investigation of the immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Kestel:

Kestel Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Van Kestel, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1794 [3]


  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  3. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)


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