Recorded in the spellings of Marval, Marvel, and Marvell (England), and Merveille and Merveilleux (France), this is a surname of pre 9th century Olde French origins. It is believed to derive either from the word 'merveille' meaning a marvel or wonder, and hence a nickname surname, or it was for some nameholders at least, a locational name from the places called Merville in Normandy. Certainly there can be little doubt that the recording of Ralph de Mereville in the tax rolls known as the 'Feet of Fines', for the county of Essex in the year 1306, is a locational surname. It may also be a reference to a French landlord or immigrant. The slightly earlier recording of Richard Merveyle in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Cambridge in 1275 suggests that this surname may well have been originally a nickname. In the modern spellings one of the first recordings may be that of Roger Marvell in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk in the year 1524. The very first of all known recordings anywhere is that of William le Merveillus of Lincoln in 1186. As to why he was called 'The Wonderful', is not known, but it may be a reference to a healer, or perhaps more likely a conjuror, somebody who performed illusion or magic.
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