Morrill History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Morrill is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name Morrill comes 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 Morrill family

The surname Morrill 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 Morrill family

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

Morrill Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Morrell, Morel, Morrel, Morrall, Morrill, Murrill and others.

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

Morrill Ranking

In the United States, the name Morrill is the 3,539th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [7]


United States Morrill migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Morrill or a variant listed above were:

Morrill Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Abraham Morrill, who arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1632 [8]
  • Isaac Morrill, who arrived in New England in 1632 [8]
Morrill Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • L H Morrill, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [8]
  • Paul Morrill, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [8]
  • D Morrill, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [8]
  • G Morrill, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [8]
  • C Morrill, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Morrill (post 1700) +

  • Rowena A. Morrill (1944-2021), American artist known for her science-fiction and fantasy illustration, awarded the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award in 2020
  • Donald Morrill (b. 1955), American non-fiction author and poet
  • Walter Goodale Morrill (1840-1935), Union Army officer in the American Civil War, recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Second Battle of Rappahannock Station
  • Richard L. Morrill (b. 1939), American academic, President of the University of Richmond (1988-1998), Centre College (1982-1988) and Salem College (1979-1982)
  • Charles Henry Morrill (1843-1928), American businessman in Nebraska, eponym of Morrill County, Nebraska
  • James Lewis Morrill (1891-1979), American academic, 8th President of the University of Minnesota (1945-1960)
  • Anson Peaslee Morrill (1803-1887), American politician, 24th Governor of Maine (1855-1856)
  • Stewart "Stew" Morrill (b. 1952), American head coach of the Utah State University men's basketball team
  • Justin Smith Morrill (1810-1898), U.S. Senator from Vermont, whose is best known for his namesake legislation: the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act
  • Stanley B. Morrill, American fighter pilot and flying ace in the U.S. Army Air Forces, during World War II, credited with 9 aerial victories
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Morrill 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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  8. ^ 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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