Somerville History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Somerville originated in "Sommerville, now Sommervieux, near Caen." [1] Literally the place name meant Sumar's or Somer's estate.

"In 1165 Walter de Summerville held a fief from the Earl of Derby, two from the barony of Stafford, and one in York, from De Lacy. His seat was at Whichnor in Staffordshire, held as a member of the Honour of Tutbury, and from him descended Roger de Somerville, who was summoned to parliament as a Baron, and died in 1327." [2]

Early Origins of the Somerville family

The surname Somerville 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." [3] [4]

Another source has a slightly different understanding: "the name of the Norman was Sir Gualter de Somerville. He became Lord of Whichnour, county Stafford, and his descendants possessed considerable property, about the close of the 12th century, in the co. Lanark, and in other parts of Scotland; of whom William de Somerville was one of the barons appointed at the marriage of Alexander II. (whose reign commenced in 1214) to exercise in a tournament at the castle of Roxburgh. This William's descendant, James, thirteenth Lord Somerville, augmented his fortune considerably by an arrangement with his kinsman, William Somerville, Esq., of Eadstone, co. Warwick, and of Somerville-Aston, co. Gloucester. " [5]

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. " [6]

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. [6]

"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." [7]

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. [3]

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." [8]

Early History of the Somerville family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Somerville 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 Somerville History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Somerville 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 Somerville 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 Somerville Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Somerville Ranking

In the United States, the name Somerville is the 4,524th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [9] However, in New Zealand, the name Somerville is ranked the 788th most popular surname with an estimated 925 people with that name. [10]

Ireland Migration of the Somerville family to Ireland

Some of the Somerville 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 Somerville migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Somerville Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • James Somerville who landed in America in 1685
Somerville Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Somerville, who landed in Maryland in 1719 [11]
Somerville Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Somerville, who arrived in America in 1811 [11]
  • John Somerville, aged 39, who arrived in Maryland in 1812 [11]
  • Archibald Somerville, aged 35, who arrived in New York in 1812 [11]
  • Samuel Somerville, aged 40, who landed in New York in 1812 [11]
  • Thomas Somerville who settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1813
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Somerville migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Somerville Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • George Somerville, aged 30, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Neptune" in 1834

Australia Somerville migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Somerville Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • George Somerville, Welsh convict from Monmouth, who was transported aboard the "Agamemnon" on April 22, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • Mr. Thomas Somerville who was convicted in Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Dick" on 2nd October 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [13]
  • James Somerville, a mason, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Miss Susan Somerville, (Green) who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Burrell" on 31st December 1831, arriving in New South Wales [14]
  • William Somerville, aged 20, who arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Fatima" [15]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Somerville 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:

Somerville Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Arch Somerville, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • Hendry Somerville, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • Mark Somerville, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • Thomas Somerville, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • Mr. J. Somerville, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "Blundell" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 21st September 1848 [16]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Somerville (post 1700) +

  • Phyllis Jeanne Somerville (1943-2020), American stage, film, and television actress, best known for her roles in Little Children (2006)
  • Bonnie Somerville (b. 1974), American actress and singer
  • Amanda Somerville (b. 1979), American singer-songwriter and vocal coach
  • Carla Somerville (b. 1973), Canadian bronze medalist field hockey player at the 1995 Pan American Games
  • John A. Somerville, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1956 [17]
  • J. H. Somerville, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for West Virginia State House of Delegates from Mason County, 1962 [17]
  • J. Burn Somerville, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Seneca County, 1934 [17]
  • George W. Somerville, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Missouri, 1948; Chair of Livingston County Republican Party, 1949 [17]
  • George G. Somerville, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from West Virginia, 1944 [17]
  • E. J. Somerville, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from West Virginia, 1928 [17]
  • ... (Another 31 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Pan Am Flight 103 (Lockerbie)
  • Paul Somerville (1975-1988), Scottish resident of Lockerbie from Scotland, who flew aboard the Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt to Detroit, known as the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and died [18]
  • John Somerville (1948-1988), Scottish resident of Lockerbie from Scotland, who flew aboard the Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt to Detroit, known as the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and died [18]
  • Rosaleen Later Somerville (1948-1988), "Rosalind" Scottish resident of Lockerbie from Scotland, who flew aboard the Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt to Detroit, known as the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and died [18]
  • Lyndsey Ann Somerville (1978-1988), Scottish resident of Lockerbie from Scotland, who flew aboard the Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt to Detroit, known as the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and died [18]


Suggested Readings for the name Somerville +

  • The Families Somerville, Somervaill, Summerall, Summerell, Summerill et al. by James H. Hines.

  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. ^ 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
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  8. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  9. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  10. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  11. ^ 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)
  12. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Agamemnon voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1820 with 179 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/agamemnon/1820
  13. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 8th July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/Dick
  14. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/burrell
  15. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The barque FATIMA 1850, 521 tons. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850Fatima.htm
  16. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  17. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 25) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  18. ^ Pan Am Flight 103's victims: A list of those killed 25 years ago | syracuse.com. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/12/pan_am_flight_103s_victims_a_list_of_those_killed_25_years_ago.html


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