Orvel History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Anglo-Saxon name Orvel comes from the family having resided 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 Orvel family

The surname Orvel 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 Orvel family

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

Orvel Spelling Variations

Orvel has been spelled many different ways. Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Spelling variants included: Orwell, Orwill, Orvell and others.

Early Notables of the Orvel family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Orvel family

In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Orvels to arrive on North American shores: Catherine Orwell and her husband were banished to Jamaica in 1685.


Contemporary Notables of the name Orvel (post 1700) +

  • Orvel Baldridge, American actor, known for his work on Where the Red Fern Grows (2003), The Cherokee Word for Water (2013) and The Doe Boy (2001)


  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)


Houseofnames.com on Facebook