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

Origins Available: English, Spanish


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.


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.


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


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.


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


  • 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. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  4. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  5. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  6. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  7. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  8. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  9. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  10. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 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 11 November 2015 at 10:33.

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