Munsell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Munsell was carried to England in the enormous movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Munsell family lived in Glamorgan. Their name, however, is a reference to the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Le Mans, Normandy.

Early Origins of the Munsell family

The surname Munsell was first found in Glamorgan where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Oxwick. Sir Phillip de Maunsell accompanied William, Duke of Normandy at Hastings in the Conquest of England in 1066 A.D. He was succeeded by Henry Maunsell, who was father of Sir John Maunsell (c.1190-1265,) Chief Justice of England about 1130 A.D.

But, there is another version of this family's origins: "the curious poetical history of this family, preserved in 'Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica,' claims one 'Saher' there written 'Sier, the syer of us all,' as their ancestor: he is stated to have been the son of Ralph Maunsel, who was living in Buckinghamshire in the 14th of Henry II. (1167). " [1]

"A priory for Black canons was founded [at Bilsington, Kent], before the year 1253, by John Mansell, provost of Beverley, who dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin." [2]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 had several entries for the family using various early spellings: Thomas le Mansell in Buckinghamshire; Sampson le Maunse in Bedfordshire; Frater Maunsel in Norfolk; Maunsel (without surname) in Huntingdonshire; and Thomas Maunsel in Cambridgeshire. Over one hundred years later, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 had two entries: Johannes Mauncell; and Alicia Maunsell. [3] The last entry is very significant in that entries for women were indeed rare at this time.

Early History of the Munsell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Munsell research. Another 95 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1640, 1195, 1264, 1579, 1665, 1487, 1559, 1542, 1623, 1699, 1645, 1645 and 1677 are included under the topic Early Munsell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Munsell Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Maunsell, Maunsel, Mansel, Mancel, Mauncell, Mauncel, Mannsell, Mannsel and many more.

Early Notables of the Munsell family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir John Maunsell, or Mansel (circa 1195-1264), Provost of Beverley, English judge, and Secretary of State and Chancellor to King Henry III; Francis Mansell (1579-1665), Principal of Jesus College, Oxford; Sir Rice Mansel of Margam (1487-1559)...
Another 43 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Munsell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Munsell family to Ireland

Some of the Munsell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 43 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Munsell migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Munsell or a variant listed above:

Munsell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Munsell, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [4]
  • Chas. Munsell, aged 47, who landed in America, in 1894
  • E. Munsell, aged 30, who immigrated to the United States, in 1895
  • Katie Munsell, aged 19, who settled in America, in 1896
Munsell Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Eugene Munsell, aged 32, who landed in America, in 1905
  • Minnie Eva Munsell, aged 44, who landed in America, in 1907
  • Sarah M. Munsell, aged 45, who landed in America, in 1907
  • Howard Munsell, aged 29, who immigrated to the United States, in 1908
  • Rose E. Munsell, aged 30, who immigrated to America, in 1908
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Munsell migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Munsell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Edward Munsell, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" in 1855
  • George Munsell, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" in 1855
  • Mr. Edward Munsell, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 17th October 1855 [5]
  • Mr. George Munsell, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 17th October 1855 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Munsell (post 1700) +

  • Susan Grimes Munsell (b. 1951), American Republican politician, Member of Michigan State House of Representatives, 1987-96; Candidate for U.S. Representative from Michigan 8th District, 1998 [6]
  • Silas Munsell, American politician, Supervisor of Howell Township, Michigan, 1916 [6]
  • Levi Munsell, American politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Torrington, 1823-24, 1833 [6]
  • Elsie L. Munsell, American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, 1981-86 [6]
  • Joel Munsell (1808-1880), American printer, publisher and author from Northfield, Massachusetts
  • Albert Henry Munsell (1858-1918), American painter, teacher of art, inventor of the Munsell color system, the official color system for soil research, founder of the Munsell Color Company and the Munsell Color Foundation


The Munsell 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: Honorantes me honorabo
Motto Translation: I will honour those who honour me.


  1. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 2) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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