Orbell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Orbell family

The surname Orbell was first found in Lincolnshire at Orby, a village and civil parish in the marshes of the Lincolnshire coast. The place dates back to the Domesday Book where it was listed as Heresbi, land held at the time by the Bishop of Durham. By 1115, the place name had evolved to Orreby and literally meant "farmstead or village of a man called Orri," derived from the Old Scandinavian personal name + "by." [1]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included: Geoffrey de Orby, Huntingdonshire; and John de Orby, Huntingdonshire, [2] and the Testa de Nevill, sive Liber Feodorum, temp. Henry III-Edward I. included: Fulco de Orreby, Lincolnshire; and Robert de Orreby, Nottinghamshire. [3]

The Orbel or Orbell variants were derived from the Latin form Orabilis which was first recorded in the Curia Regis Rolls for Kent in 1221. Later in Kent, Orbla and Orble were listed in 1243 and in Essex, we found Orbalia in the Feet of Fines for 1273. In Staffordshire, Orabella was listed in the Assize Rolls for 1275 and in the Cambridgeshire, John Orable was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls for 1279. In Suffolk, Adam Orbel was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for 1327. [4]

Early History of the Orbell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Orbell research. Another 129 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1316 and 1658 are included under the topic Early Orbell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Orbell Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Orby, Orbie, Orbee, Orreby, Orrebey, Orrebie and many more.

Early Notables of the Orbell family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Orbell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


New Zealand Orbell 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:

Orbell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Orbell, aged 47, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • Catherine Orbell, aged 42, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • Emily Orbell, aged 21, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • Fanny Orbell, aged 19, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • Mary Orbell, aged 17, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Orbell (post 1700) +

  • Margaret Rose Orbell CNZM (1935-2006), New Zealand author, editor, academic and associate professor of Maori at the University of Canterbury from 1976 to 1994
  • Harry Orbell (1860-1914), British trade unionist born in Bethnal Green
  • Geoffrey Buckland Orbell MBE (1908-2007), New Zealand physician and bush walker, best known for his rediscovery of the takahe, a flightless bird indigenous to New Zealand in 1948
  • David Rodney Orbell (b. 1963), Australian freestyle swimmer at the 1984 Summer Olympics


  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Testa de Nevill or "Liber Feodorum" or "Book of Fees," thought to have been written by Ralph de Nevill, for King John (1199–1216)
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)


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