This interesting and unusual name has a number of sources, each with its own distinct history and derivation. Firstly, it may be of Norman French origin, introduced into Britain after the Conquest of 1066, and a contracted form of the locational surname Normanville, from either of the two places so called in Normandy. The surname from this source is now found chiefly in Scotland (as below), although the first recording of the full surname is English, in the shape of Emma de Normanuill (1195, in the Sussex Pipe Rolls).John Norvaile and George Norvil are recorded in Stirling in 1471, and William Norvell was "thesaurar of the burght of Striviling" (Stirling) in 1561. Secondly, the surname may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, and a variant form of the locational name Norwell, from the place so called in Nottinghamshire. The placename means "the north stream or spring", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "north", north, and "well(a), waell(a)", well, spring, stream. Finally, Norvel(l) may be an Anglo-Saxon topographical surname for one who lived by "the north stream or spring", derived from the same Olde English elements as the placename. Henry de Northewelle is recorded in the Sussex Subsidy Rolls of 1296. Examples from Church Registers include the christening of Joane, daughter of George Norvell, in Plymtree, Devonshire, on January 10th 1664. One of the Coats of Arms granted to the family in Scotland depicts three black martlets on a silver bend on a black shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Norvyle, which was dated 1373, a charter witness, in early records of Fife, Scotland, during the reign of King Robert 11 of Scotland, 1371 - 1390. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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