Morhall History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Morhall family first reached the shores of England in the wave of migration after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Their name is derived from the medieval given name Morel. The name was originally derived from the name More or Moore a nickname for a someone of dark complexion. This name stems from the Old French word Moor, meaning black man. [1]

Early Origins of the Morhall family

The surname Morhall was first found in Northumberland where one of the first records of the name was found at North Middleton, a township, in the parish of Hartburn. "This place, which was also called MiddletonMorell, from an ancient proprietor named Morell, was afterwards divided among various proprietors." [2]

"John Morel was seated in Norfolk in 1086 (Domesday) and another - if not the same Morel, occurs in Northumberland nine years afterwards. " [3]

Later the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included listings for Herveus Morel, Norfolk; Nicholas Morel, Norfolk; and Thomas Morel, Huntingdonshire. Morel (without surname), Cambridgeshire was also listed. [4]

One source notes that Yorkshire proved to be an ancient homestead of the family. "The West Riding [of Yorkshire] is now the principal home of the Morrells, but they are also to be found in the other divisions of the county. In the 13th century they were represented by the Morels in Norfolk, Hunts, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire." [5]

In Scotland, "Symon Morellus witnessed gift of the church of Molle to the Abbey of Kelso, c. 1190." [6]

We include this interesting passage about one on the family from Wallis' Anitquities of Northumberland:

"In the year 1095, Robert Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, and his party, marched into Bamborough Castle for security, on the approach of the royal troops to chastise them for their treason. The King, William Rufus, besieged it in person. As traitors never think themselves safe anywhere, Mowbray secretly fled for sanctuary to St. Oswin's shrine at Tynemouth, where he was taken prisoner. His steward and kinsman, Morel, with a courage that would have done honour to a better cause, defended the Castle in the absence of his unfortunate lord. He defended it against all the forces of the King. The King had turned the siege into a blockade, and raised a fortress near it called Malvoisin, i.e. Bad Neighbour, some time before the Earl fled. Morel, not terrified by so many bad neighbours, still held out, with an astonishing perseverance and resolution, to the surprise of the King, who, beginning to be uneasy, tried to effect that by policy, which he could not do by force. He ordered the Earl to be led up to the very walls, and a declaration to be made, that if the Castle did not surrender, his eyes should be instantly put out. This succeeded to his wish. Morel no sooner beheld him in this im­minent danger, than he consented to yield upon terms. For his fidelity and affection to his lord, and his gallant defence, the King took him into his Royal protection and favour. A god-like action, thus generously to reward a faithful enemy."

While no exact date was given for this passage, we do know that "another John Morel (no doubt his descendant) held a fief in Northumberland in 1165." [3]

Early History of the Morhall family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Morhall research. Another 229 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1317, 1202, 1620, 1704, 1795, 1839, 1788 and 1880 are included under the topic Early Morhall History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Morhall 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 Morrell, Morel, Morrel, Morrall, Morrill, Murrill and others.

Early Notables of the Morhall family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Mary Morrill (Morrel/Morrills/Morill) (c. 1620-1704), birth name of Mary Folger, English-born indentured servant in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, grandmother of Benjamin Franklin; Benjamin...
Another 31 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Morhall Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Morhall 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 Morhall or a variant listed above: David Morrell settled in Virginia in 1656; Nicholas Morrel settled in Barbados with his wife, son in 1679; he later moved to Boston; Mary Morrell and her husband settled in Barbados in 1694.



The Morhall Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Bono animo esto
Motto Translation: Be of Good Courage


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 2 of 3
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  6. ^ 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)


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