Marls History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Marls is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Marls family lived in Northumberland. Their name, however, derives from the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Merlai, Normandy. [1]

Early Origins of the Marls family

The surname Marls was first found in Northumberland at Morpeth, a parish and borough.

They descend from the "Barons of Morpeth in Northumberland, where the ruins of their castle still overlook the town. The domain was very large, including many adjacent villages, and 'by the rolls of Henry V. is called the barony of Merlay, which shows that Merlay and Morpeth were places originally distinct from each other, the one denoting the hill and the other the valley: at length the distinctions subsided in the general appellation of Morpeth. King Henry I. gave Julian the daughter of Gospatrick Earl of Dunbar in marriage, with a rich dowry, to Roger de Merley, Baron of Morpeth. This Roger founded Newminster, and was interred therein, with his wife and Osbert their son.' " [2]

Another source confirms this history. "The first certain account preserved of it, is in the grant by the Conqueror of the manor to one of his followers, William de Merlay, whose son Ranulph added largely to his paternal estates by his marriage with Julian, daughter of Cospatrick, Earl of Dunbar; ultimately the family became one of the most powerful in the north of England, and were owners of about a fourth of the county of Northumberland. In 1266, their possessions were vested in two coheiresses, Mary and Isabel, to the elder of whom, wife of William, Baron of Greystock, the manor of Morpeth was allotted." [3]

Ulgham in Northumberland was home to another branch of the family in ancient times. "This place, in the charter of Henry I. granting right of free chase on it to the Merlay family, is called Elchamp: it was formerly, in part, the property of Newminster Abbey; and the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem also held some lands here." [3]

Early History of the Marls family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Marls research. Another 122 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1296 and 1296 are included under the topic Early Marls History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Marls Spelling Variations

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval 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. The name has been spelled Merlay, Merler, Merle and others.

Early Notables of the Marls family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Marls family

Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Marls or a variant listed above: John Merle settled in Virginia in 1636; Lewis Merle settled in Philadelphia in 1852; Claude Merle settled in New Orleans in 1821; William Merlay settled in New Jersey in 1840..



  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.


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