Morrel History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Morrel family arrived in England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name Morrel came 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 Morrel family

The surname Morrel 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 Morrel family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Morrel 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 Morrel History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Morrel Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Morrel are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Morrel include Morrell, Morel, Morrel, Morrall, Morrill, Murrill and others.

Early Notables of the Morrel 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 Morrel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Canada Morrel migration to Canada +

Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Morrel, or a variant listed above:

Morrel Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Daniel Morrel U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [7]

West Indies Morrel 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. [8]
Morrel Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Nicholas Morrel, who settled in Barbados with his wife, son in 1679


The Morrel 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)
  7. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  8. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies


Houseofnames.com on Facebook