Curiously this surname which seems to be purely locational, is sometime not so. It can derive from a place called 'Ravenshill' in the North Riding of Yorkshire, which is believed to mean what it says, but equally the early Yorkshire records refer to the ancient baptismal name 'Ravenhilde'. This is a development of the Norse-Viking 'Hrafnildr' which has the two elements 'Hrafn' (the raven) and 'ildr' which is probably a short form of 'cild' - a child. What is certain is that the name has a long and honourable history, and dates back to the very beginnings of surnames.Examples of these recordings include Williemus fils Rauenilde in the 1297 Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire and William Ravenhild in the Hundred Rolls of Yorkshire for the year 1276. The first name recording as shown below suggests that there may have been other places called 'Ravenhill' which are now 'lost'. The Coat of Arms was granted to the Ravenhills of Hereford. This has the blazon of the green mounts, each surmounted by a black raven. The crest is a demi lion supported a cross crosslet. Other recordings include Roger Ravenchil in the Feet of Fines rolls for King Richard 11 (1377 - 1399) and John Ravenell, whose daughter Anne Maria, was christened at the church of St Mary Aldermary, London in the year 1700. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nycolas de Ravenhill, which was dated 1230, in the pipe rolls of the county of Hereford, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as 'The Frenchman', 1216 - 1272. 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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