Show ContentsOrval History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Orval is a name of ancient Anglo-Saxon origin and comes from the family once having lived in the settlement of Orwell in Cambridgeshire, in Orwell Haven in Suffolk, or in the lands of Orwell in the Scottish county of Kinross.

Regarding this latter parish, "this place derives its name, of Gaelic origin, from an estate so called on the banks of Loch Leven; and the term is supposed to be descriptive of the parish as situated in a green or fertile retreat. On the shore of Loch Leven are the remains of the old parish church, once an appendage of the monastery of Dunfermline; and near the village of Milnathort are the remains of Burleigh Castle, anciently a place of considerable importance and of great strength. " [1]

Early Origins of the Orval family

The surname Orval was first found in Cambridgeshire at Orwell which dates back to the Domesday Book where it was listed as Ordeuuelle. The place name literally means "spring by a pointed hill," from the Old English words ord + wella. The River Orwell in Suffolk dates back to the 11th century when it was listed as Arewan and later as Orewell in 1341. This ancient Celtic river-name means simply "stream" having derived from the Old English word "wella." [2]

Today Orwell, Cambridgeshire has a population of about 1,080 people and the Roman road still runs to Cambridge runs alongside the village. St Andrew's Church dates back to about 1150 A.D.

The name was anciently spelt Orval, from "Orval, a fief in the Vicomte of Coutances. Regnault d'Orval, about the time of the Conquest, witnessed the foundation charter of L'Essay, and gave to the Abbey his church of Orval." [3]

Another source notes that Turbert de Orduuelle was the first on record in 1066 in Cambridgeshire and later in the same shire, William de Orewell was listed there in 1201. A few years later, Alan de Orewell was found in the Pipe Rolls of 1212. [4]

Up north in Scotland, "Richard de Orewell witnessed confirmation of a charter by Walter, bishop of Glasgow to the Hospital of Soltre, 1231, and Johannes de Vrwell, one of an inquest in Aberdeen, 1342, may be John of Urwell who had a confirmation of the lands of Drum near Pluscardy, 1343." [5]

Early History of the Orval family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Orval research. Another 198 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1140, 1231, 1362, 1389, 1431, 1514, 1576 and 1615 are included under the topic Early Orval History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Orval Spelling Variations

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Orval family name include Orwell, Orwill, Orvell and others.

Early Notables of the Orval family

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

Migration of the Orval family

For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, Canada, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Orval surname or a spelling variation of the name include: Catherine Orwell and her husband were banished to Jamaica in 1685.

Contemporary Notables of the name Orval (post 1700) +

  • Herbert Orval Sparrow CM (1930-2012), Canadian politician, Senator for Saskatchewan (1968–2005)
  • Orval Roy Tessier (1933-2022), Canadian professional ice hockey centre and coach from Cornwall, Ontario, voted most valuable player and most sportsmanlike player in the 1961–1962 season, recipient of the Jack Adams Trophy (1982)
  • Orval J. Nease (1891-1950), American Nazarene minister, Nazarene General Superintendent, and president of Pasadena College, brother of Floyd W. Nease
  • Orval Howard Hansen (1926-2017), American Republican politician, U.S. Representative from Idaho 2nd District, 1969-75 [6]
  • Orval William Prophet (1922-1984), Canadian country music singer and songwriter, inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame
  • Orval Overall (1881-1947), American Major League Baseball pitcher
  • General Orval Ray Cook (1898-1980), American Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the US European Command (1955-1956) [7]
  • Orval Carl Finkbeiner (b. 1910), American Republican politician, Mayor of Sandusky [8]
  • Orval Eugene Faubus (1910-1994), American Democratic Party politician, Governor of Arkansas, 1955-67; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Arkansas, 1956; National States Rights Candidate for President of the United States, 1960 [9]
  • Orval S. Ellison (1921-1998), American politician, Member of Montana State House of Representatives, 1974-92 [10]

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  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. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. 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)
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 17) . Retrieved from
  7. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, November 23) Orval Cook. Retrieved from
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 20) . Retrieved from
  9. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, March 10) . Retrieved from
  10. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 22) . Retrieved from on Facebook