Mervell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The illustrious surname Mervell 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 Mervell is a local type of surname and the Mervell family lived in Cornwall, in the village of Merryfield.

Early Origins of the Mervell family

The surname Mervell was first found in Cornwall and Devon, where this prominent family flourished. Walter Merifild was recorded in Devon in 1200 but it is believed the family had established itself earlier in St. Columb, Cornwall.

"Towards the conclusion of the fifteenth century, [Tacabre, Cornwall] was seized by Richard III. as having been the property of the Duchess of Exeter, the sister of Edward IV. Some time after this it acquired the name of Merrifield, by which appellation it is still known; but from whence this name is derived, cannot be ascertained. It is conjectured to be a corruption of Mary-field, probably from its belonging to the convent of St. Mary de Graces. This manor is of considerable dimensions, extending into the parishes of Whitstone, Tamerton, and St. Stephens near Launceston in Cornwall, and into the parish of Sourton in Devonshire. Connected with this manor of Merrifield is the barton of Tacabre, which still retains its primitive name." [1]

Early History of the Mervell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Mervell research. Another 69 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1273, 1341, 1584, 1621, 1678, 1659 and 1678 are included under the topic Early Mervell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Mervell 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 Merrifield, Merrifild, Merefield, Merrefield, Merrifeild, Merefeild, Maryfield, Meryfield, Meryfeld, Merryfield, Merrivale, Merivale, Marrivale, Merevale, Meervale, Merrivall, Merryvall and many more.

Early Notables of the Mervell family (pre 1700)

Another 36 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Mervell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Mervell family

An examination into the immigration and passenger lists has discovered a number of people bearing the name Mervell: Henry Merryfield, who settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1658; as well as Jeremiah Merryfield, who settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773..



  1. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print


Houseofnames.com on Facebook