Reivers History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Reivers reached English shores for the first time with the ancestors of the Reivers family as they migrated following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Reivers family lived in Revieres, near Creuilli, in the arrondissement of Caen, Normandy. This is one of the names given by Wace in his account of the battle of Hastings, "He who was then Sire de Reviers brought with him many knights who were foremost in the assault, bearing the enemy down with their war-horses." [1]

Early Origins of the Reivers family

The surname Reivers was first found in Devon where the surname is descended from the tenant of the lands of Baldwin de Reviers (Revere) who was recorded in the Domesday Book census of 1086. Soon after the conquest Baldwin and William (Quillaume) de Reviers, sons of Richard of Montebourg in Calvados received Plympton and Tiverton in Devon, the Isle of Wight, became Earl of Devon to which Baldwin succeeded in 1107.

"There was a genuine and undoubted Richard de Reviers, who with William de Reviers (perhaps his brother) is to be found on the Dives Roll, and held a barony in Dorset in 1086. [2] He is presumed to have been the son of a William de Reviers who held land at Montebourg in Normandy a conjecture the more probable, as he, with the King's consent, founded an Abbey at Montebourg in 1088, and endowed it, among other grants, with one of his Dorset manors." [1]

"A castle was erected in Tiverton in 1106 by Rivers, Earl of Devon, which continued for many ages the head of a barony, and, with the lordship of the hundred and the manor." [3] "In the reign of Henry I. the manor [of Tiverton] passed to the family of Redvers, and Richard de Redvers, about the year 1106, built the castle, which continued one of the principal seats of that powerful family for several generations. At the death of Baldwin de Redvers in 1245, his widow, Amicia, claimed the manor and lordship of Tiverton as part of her dower. The last of the family of Redvers that held the manor was Isabella's daughter Avelina, who married Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, second son of Henry III." [4]

"In the reign of Henry I. we find Honiton [Devon] in the Redvers family, and in that line it continued mainly until it came to the Courtenays. " [4]

Baldwin de Redvers, the 1st Earl of Devon (died 1155), was a feudal Baron of Plympton in Devon. His father was Richard de Redvers (or Reviers, Rivers, or Latinised to de Ripariis) (fl. c. 1066 - 1107) was a Norman from Reviers in Normandy. He rose to become the 1st feudal baron of Plympton. He may have been one of the companions of William the Conqueror during the Norman Conquest but he does appear on the Role of Battle Abbey. Guillaume held a barony in Dorset and he more properly sired the Redvers.

Descending from this great Norman family name were the Redvers, the Reivers, the Courtnays, the Prouz, the Chudleighs, the Fortibus, and the Vernons. [5]

Early History of the Reivers family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Reivers research. Another 65 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 125 and 1255 are included under the topic Early Reivers History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Reivers Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Redvers, Redverse, Radvers, Reviers, Reivers, Revere and many more.

Early Notables of the Reivers family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Reivers family

Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Reivers name or one of its variants: Elizabeth Rever, who settled in Barbados in 1651; Apollos Revere, who settled in Boston in 1715; Leonard Revor, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1738; Laurens Revere, who came to Charles Town, SC sometime between 1767 and 1768.



  1. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  2. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  5. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print


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