Recorded in various spellings including Cavel, Cavell, Cavill, Caville, and others, this famous surname is English. It is locational from Cavil, given as being a township in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The placename is first recorded as Cafeld in the Yorkshire Charters of the year 959 a.d. and later as Cheuede, so much for the spelling of Norman-French clerics, in the Domesday Book for Yorkshire, in the year 1086. The component elements are the Old English pre 7th Century "ca" meaning jackdaw plus "feld" a pasture or open country; hence "pasture frequented by "jackdaws".The early examples of the surname recording include Robert de Cavilla, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Lincolnshire in 1273, and John Cavel, the rector of Sizeland in Norfolk, in 1533. Other examples taken from early surviving church registers include: Humfrey Cavell who married Alice Nassahe in London in the year 1546, whilst on April 23rd 1582, John Cavill and Grisill Garraway were married at the church of St. Peter-le-Poer in the city of London. One of the more appalling acts carried out by the Germans in the First World War (1914 - 1918) was the execution in Belgium of Nurse Edith Cavell. She was a daughter of the rector of Swardeston in Norfolk, and was found "guilty" of assisting wounded fugitives from the fighting. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Thomas de Kauill. This was dated 1190, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Richard 1st of England, and known to history as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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