This is an Anglo-French topographical surname recorded in the spellings of Gravell, Gravells, Gravenell, Greville, Grevel, and Grouvel. All ultimately derive from the pre 10th century French word 'grave'. This word describes not a grave, but an area of gravelly soil. The second element or suffix of the surname is a form of the French term 'ville', meaning place or town. Originally the name was given to a family who dwelt in or near a settlement called Greville, of which the example in Normandy is known to have given its name to the English and Cornish families of Greville, during the 11th Century. The Gloucestershire family of Grevel was founded in the 14th Century by William Grevel, a well known wool merchant of the area. Early examples of the surname recording taken from authentic church registers include Elioner Gravell, christened at Westbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire, on November 19th 1593, and George Gravenall a christening witness at St Andrews Holborn, in the city of London, on October 10th 1852. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Greinill, which was dated 1158. This was in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Northumberland, during the reign of King Henry IInd of England. He was known as "The church builder" and reigned 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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