Recorded in a number of spelling forms including Rabel, Rabl, Rable, Rableau, Ravel, Raveau, Rabeau and Revel, this is a surname of French origins. It can be either locational from a place called Ravel in the district of Drome, in Provence, or occupational from the word 'rave' meaning a root vegetable, and hence a grower or seller of such items. The place name originates from the Roman (Latin) word rebellis meaning 'rebel', and hence probably describes a town which was rebellious or which sheltered 'rebels' from the authority. Locational surnames as a group are the second most popular listings in Europe, since the easiest way to identify a stranger in medieval times, was to call him, or sometimes her, by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling being at best rudimentary and local dialects very thick, lead to the development of variant spellings. Examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church registers of the post medieval period (many were destroyed in the French Revolution of 1792) include: Mathurin Rableau who married Marie du Bois at St Porchaire, Paris, in 1644, Marie Ravel, who married Pirre Ducros at La Voult-sur-Rhone, Ardeche, on July 7th 1732, and Jean Rable, a witness at Ciry sur Vezouse, Meurthe-et-Moselle, on September 24th 1829. The famous composer Maurice Ravel was born at Ciboure, in the Basque County, in 1875, and died in Spain in 1837.
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