This interesting and unusual surname recorded in several modern forms including Markwell, Markwelley, Marvelley and Mervelley, is English, but maybe of pre 10th century French origins. Although it appears to be from Markwell, a village in Cornwall, and this may be so for some nameholders, the surname is not recorded in the Cornish names list. Research suggests that it may have been one of the many "imports" into England brough by the Norman-French invaders of 1066. If this is so, the derivation is probably from the word "merveille" meaning miracle or marvellous, a surname which survives in this form in France. It was originally given as a complimentary nickname to a youthful prodigy in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of learning. The derivation lies in the Latin "mirabilia", admirable or amazing, and in England the Latinized form of the surname first appears on record in the latter part of the 12th Century when William le Merveillus is recorded in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Lincolnshire in 1186. Later recordings found in the surviving early church registers include Jone Marvayle, christened at St. Botolph's Bishopsgate, on August 3rd 1597, Sarah Markwell christened at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on August 18th 1611, and the marriage of John Marvelee to Mary Gill at the famous church of St. Mary-le-bone, London, on December 6th 1688. A coat of arms was granted to the French family of Merveilleux from the town of Vignaux. The blazon depicts a double-tailed mermaid on a blue shield, the mermaid being is symbolic of eloquence. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is that of Richard Merveyle. This was dated 1273, in "The Hundred Rolls" of the county of Cambridgeshire. This was during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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