Somervell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Somervell originated in "Sommerville, now Sommervieux, near Caen." [1] Literally the place name meant Sumar's or Somer's estate. Somervell is a local surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. There are many different types of local surnames, some of which include: topographic surnames, which could be given to a person who lived beside any physical feature, such as a hill, stream, church or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties.

Early Origins of the Somervell family

The surname Somervell was first found in Staffordshire, where "the progenitor of the noble family was Walter de Somerville, lord of Wicknor, and of Aston Somerville, in county Gloucester, who came into England with William the Conqueror, and left two sons, who became ancestors respectively of the English and Scottish Somervilles." [2] [3] Black notes that "William de Somerville, first of the name in Scotland, came in the train of David I, and received lands in Lanarkshire. There were five Williams in succession, the last dying in 1282. " [4]

Both of these scenarios could be true as David I of Scotland (1084-1153) was King of the Scots (1124-1153) and born 20 years after the Conquest. In Scotland, there are numerous early listings of the name in one form or another including: Robert de Sumeruilla who witnessed a charter by Duncan, Earl of Fife, to the nuns of North Berwick in 1177; Ralph de Sumervilla, acolyte, who was promoted to the church of Linton in 1255; and William Somerwele of the Plane, who was a charter witness in Edinburgh in 1492. [4]

"The castle of Cowthalley, in the parish [of Carwath, Lanarkshire, Scotland], was, for many years, the baronial residence of the Sommervilles, one of the most opulent and powerful families of the country in the 12th century, and of whom William, the first Baron, was the firm adherent of Robert Bruce, during the disputed succession to the crown." [5]

In England, Jacobus de Somerwill was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 in Devon and Robert de Somervile and Roger de Somerville were both listed in Staffordshire during the reign of Edward I. [2]

An early branch of the family was found at Barton-Under-Needwood in Staffordshire. "[Barton-Under-Needwood] in Domesday Book called Bertune, gave name to one of the five wards into which the ancient royal forest of Needwood was divided. Edward the Confessor granted it to Henry de Ferrers, from whom it passed to the Somervilles, and afterwards to the earls of Derby, one of whom forfeited the property by rebellion in 1263." [6]

Early History of the Somervell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Somervell research. Another 166 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1492, 1567, 1614, 1370, 1444, 1400, 1456, 1491, 1484, 1523, 1484, 1549, 1518, 1569, 1560, 1583, 1632, 1690, 1632, 1675, 1742 and are included under the topic Early Somervell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Somervell Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Sommerville, Summervillle, Somerville, Somerfield, Somervale, Somervile, Summerville, Summervale, Sumeril, Somahan and many more.

Early Notables of the Somervell family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family at this time was Thomas Somerville, 1st Lord Somerville (c. 1370-1444); William Somerville, 2nd Lord Somerville (c. 1400-1456); John Somerville, 3rd Lord Somerville (d. 1491); John Somerville, 4th Lord Somerville (c. 1484-1523); Hugh Somerville, 5th Lord Somerville (c. 1484-1549); and James Somerville, 6th Lord Somerville (c. 1518-1569). John Somerville or Somervile (1560-1583), condemned for treason against the life of Queen Elizabeth, was the head of an ancient Catholic family possessing lands in Warwickshire and Gloucestershire, and having their chief seat at Edstone in the former county. He was eldest son of John Somervile of Edston. "On 19 Dec...
Another 137 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Somervell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Somervell family to Ireland

Some of the Somervell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 65 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Somervell migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Somervell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Somervell, who arrived in Maryland in 1719 [7]

New Zealand Somervell 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:

Somervell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Henry Somervell, aged 22, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • Susan Somervell, aged 18, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • Henry Somervell, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Zealandia" in 1861

Contemporary Notables of the name Somervell (post 1700) +

  • Brehon Burke Somervell (1892-1955), American General in the United States Army and Commanding General of the Army Service Forces in World War II
  • Alexander Somervell (1796-1854), American soldier who led the Somervell Expedition into Mexico (November 1842-February 1843)
  • Alexander Somervell (1796-1854), American politician, Member of Texas Republic Senate from District of Colorado and Austin, 1836-38 [8]
  • William Henry Somervell (1860-1934), English businessman, philanthropist and Liberal politician
  • Theodore Howard Somervell OBE FRCS (1890-1975), English surgeon, mountaineer, painter and missionary, member of two expeditions to Mount Everest in the 1920s, recipient of a gold Olympic medal for mountaineering in 1924
  • Donald Bradley Somervell OBE, PC, QC (1889-1960), Baron Somervell of Harrow, a British barrister, judge and Conservative Party politician, Home Secretary in 1945, Attorney General for England and Wales (1936-1945), Solicitor General for England and Wales (1933-1936)
  • David Churchill "D.C." Somervell (1885-1965), British historian, best known for his abridgement of Arnold J. Toynbee's A Study of History
  • Sir Arthur Somervell (1863-1937), English composer, best known for his song cycles such as Maud (after Tennyson, 1898) and for his choral works The Forsaken Merman (1895), Intimations of Immortality (1907), and The Passion of Christ (1914)


  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  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. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  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. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 25) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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