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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, Spanish


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The surname Vidal was first found in Devon where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, having prevailed over King Harold, granted most of Britain to his many victorious Barons. It was not uncommon to find a Baron, or a Bishop, with 60 or more Lordships scattered throughout the country. These he gave to his sons, nephews and other junior lines of his family and they became known as under-tenants. They adopted the Norman system of surnames which identified the under-tenant with his holdings so as to distinguish him from the senior stem of the family. After many rebellious wars between his Barons, Duke William, commissioned a census of all England to determine in 1086, settling once and for all, who held which land. He called the census the Domesday Book, [1] indicating that those holders registered would hold the land until the end of time. Hence, conjecturally, the surname is descended from the tenant of lands in Devon held by Vitalis of Berny, who was recorded in the Domesday Book census of 1086. Abbot Vitalis was Abbot of Westminster in 1076. He had been at the confirmation of Duke William as King of England at Lillebonne in Normandy in 1061.

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Vial, Vidal, Vital, Viall, Veel, Vele, Veil, Veele, Vidall, Vital, Vitall, Viel and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Vidal research. Another 347 words (25 lines of text) covering the years 1194, 1327, 1510, 1600, 1629, and 1744 are included under the topic Early Vidal History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Vidal Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Vidal family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 129 words (9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Vidal or a variant listed above:

  • Teresa Vidal who came to New Spain in 1536
  • Alonso Vidal who sailed to Peru in 1592

Vidal Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Stephen Vidal, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1754
  • Charles Vidal, who landed in Mobile, Ala in 1764
  • Paul Vidal, aged 37, landed in New York in 1799

Vidal Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • John Vidal, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1807
  • Benito Vidal, who landed in Puerto Rico in 1813
  • Benito Vidal who arrived in Puerto Rico in 1813
  • Anton Vidal, who landed in America in 1813
  • Agustin Vidal, who landed in Puerto Rico in 1816


Vidal Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Robert Vidal landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840

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  • Vicente J. Vidal, American politician, Honorary Consul for Guatemala at Pensacola, Florida, 1900; Honorary Consul for Cuba at Pensacola, Florida, 1904
  • Steven P. Vidal, American politician, U.S. Collector of Internal Revenue for New Mexico, 1941-51
  • Michel Vidal (b. 1824), American Republican politician, Delegate to Louisiana State Constitutional Convention, 1867; U.S. Representative from Louisiana 4th District, 1868-69; U.S. Consul in Tripoli, 1870-76
  • Eugene Luther Gore Vidal Jr. (1925-2012), American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1960; Candidate for U.S. Representative from New York 29th District, 1960
  • Dagmar Vidal, American Democrat politician, Member of Democratic National Committee from Iowa, 1971; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 1972
  • Christina Vidal (b. 1981), American film and television actress
  • Gore Vidal (b. 1925), American writer and film actor/personality
  • Laurent Vidal (1984-2015), French professional triathlete, three time French Champion (2009, 2011 and 2012) and two time Olympian
  • Ignacio Cobos Vidal (b. 1966), former field hockey player from Spain
  • Juan Sánchez Vidal (b. 1958), Spanish model aircraft collector with what many experts believe to be the largest aircraft collection in the world

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  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)

Other References

  1. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  2. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  3. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  4. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  5. 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).
  6. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  8. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  9. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  10. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  11. ...

The Vidal Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Vidal Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 18 May 2016 at 10:21.

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