Murrell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Norman Conquest of England of 1066 added many new elements to the already vibrant culture. Among these were thousands of new names. The Murrell 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 Murrell family

The surname Murrell 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 Murrell family

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

Murrell Spelling Variations

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Morrell, Morel, Morrel, Morrall, Morrill, Murrill and others.

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


United States Murrell migration to the United States +

Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Murrell or a variant listed above:

Murrell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Gregory Murrell, who landed in Maryland in 1650 [7]
  • George Murrell, who arrived in Maryland in 1658 [7]
Murrell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert Murrell, aged 25, who landed in New York in 1812 [7]
  • Samuel Murrell, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1813 [7]
  • John Murrell, who arrived in Texas in 1830 [7]

Australia Murrell migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Murrell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Murrell, aged 19, a farm labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Constance" [8]

New Zealand Murrell 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:

Murrell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Robert Murrell, aged 19, a labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "La Hogue" in 1874
  • Sarah Murrell, aged 21, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "La Hogue" in 1874

Contemporary Notables of the name Murrell (post 1700) +

  • Chris Murrell, American jazz and gospel singer
  • Willie Vernon Murrell (b. 1941), American former professional basketball player
  • John Murrell OC, AOE (b. 1945), American-born Canadian playwright, recipient of the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement (2008)
  • Marques Murrell (b. 1985), American football linebacker
  • Adrian Byran Murrell (b. 1970), former professional American NFL football running back
  • W. F. Murrell (d. 1973), American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Missouri, 1940 [9]
  • Tellas M. Murrell, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Georgia, 1996 [9]
  • Samuel Murrell, American politician, Presidential Elector for Kentucky, 1820 [9]
  • Olin W. Murrell, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1932 [9]
  • George C. Murrell, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Missouri, 1924 [9]
  • ... (Another 7 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. George P Murrell (b. 1907), English Shipwright 4th Class serving for the Royal Navy from Belper, Derbyshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [10]


The Murrell 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


Suggested Readings for the name Murrell +

  • 2895 Lyle, Murrell, Nancy, Morton Genealogy by Gladys Elizabeth Odil Bracy.

  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. ^ 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)
  8. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CONSTANCE 1850. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850Constance.htm
  9. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 17) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  10. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm


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