Recorded in many forms including de Ville, de Villier, Darvel, Darvill, Darvell, Devil, Ville, Desvilles, and others, this is a famous French surname. It is habitational, and describes one who lived in the centre of a village, as opposed to the outskirts, or it is locational from any of the various places called Ville or Villier, or Villiers, found throughout the country. It was one of the most important surnames introduced into England at the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066, and at least four separate branches of the English nobility called Villiers trace their ancestry back to these invaders. These include the earls of Anglesey, Jersey, Clarendon and Grandison, and the sometimes infamous dukes of Buckingham. The name in England often underwent transposition to try to lose some of the obvious Frenchness, particularly as for centuries the countries were almost permanently at war or on a war footing. This included the fusion of the preposition "de" into the remainder of the name to create for instance Darvel or Devil. Early examples of the surname recording include: Willam de Villers given as being a Knight Templar, and appearing in the register of Crusaders for the county of Yorkshire in 1185. Other later recordings from the surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London include: Elizabeth Darvil who married Richard Chadwick at West Drayton, on August 7th 1596, and Elizabeth Darvell, who married George Ball at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on January 15th 1820. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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