Merrill, 1928, reprint 1983
the Name and Its Variations - Chapter II,
Meriel, Meurrill, etc.
Duchess of Cleveland in The Battle Abbey Roll
(vol. II, page 245), mentions John and Richard Miriel,
Norfolk; Adam de Miriel, Suffolk; and Matilda de Miriel,
with her daughter Margaret, Kent, in the time of Edward
I [1272-1307]. Nicholas de Meriel was of Yorkshire at
the same date.
Brays Sketch of a Tour into Derbyshire and
Yorkshire, (published 1777), the village of Tidswell
(now spelled Tideswell) in Derbyshire is described. In
the chancel of the large parish church, the writer says,
there is also a raised tomb (on which bread is given
away every Sunday) for Sampson Meurrill, with a date of
1388. This was probably the year of Sampson Meurrills
birth, for Guillim, in A Display of Heraldry
(6th edit., 1724, page 266), tells of Sir Sampson
Meverell, Kt. who dyd Anno 1462, and was
buried in the Church of Tydeswall in the County
pedigree of Sir Sampson is given by Guill im thro
a line of seven Meverell ancestors, together with a line
of descent to Francis Meverell, four generations later.
Francis Meverell, like most of the others mentioned in
the pedigree, was of Throwley, in the neighboring county
of Stafford. His arms were: Argent, a Griffon
rampant with Wings displayd Sable, beakd
and legd Gules, armd Or.
Sampson Meverell, eldest son of Francis, was living in
these Meverells or Meurrills of Staffordshire were related
to the Merrells of Suffolk is not known; but their presence
in England through all the centuries covered by the thirteen
generations enumerated in the Display of Heraldry
increases the difficulty of convincing a sceptic that
the Merrills are of Huguenot extraction. Other instances
also might be cited to show that the name, with some variation
in spelling, was present in England at a very early date.
is much more likely that the American Merrills are descended
from some one of these Miriels, Meriels, Meurrills or
Meverells than that their ancestors were Merles in France
in the sixteenth century. Nathaniel1 Merrill of Newbury
was probably a native of Suffolk, and Adam de Miriel,
Suffolk, cotemporary and subject of Edward Longshanks,
may easily have been his kinsman. No one in this day,
however, can hope to trace the connecting links through
the three intervening centuries.
Complexion, or Dark?
quoting the same letter from General Merrill (dated 2
Sept. 1884): The Huguenot family from which we come,
if I am right in my belief, were from Westphalia originally,
and belonged to a light-haired people. They were not Latins,
but Teutons, and the name is, I think, very clearly traceable
to the Old High German Mär, which meant illustrious.
The Westphalian form of the name still exists, Mährle.
Märell and Mährle are given as German family
names by Prof. Albert Heintze in Die deutschen Familiennamen,
(Halle, 1903). These are all diminutive forms of Mar,
and Mar has been employed in the formation of the
names of persons, according to Heintze, since the first
century. The word is derived from the Gothic mêrs,
Old High German mâri, Middle High German
maere, meaning renowned.
German derivation becomes unimportant, of course, if we
dismiss the Huguenot theory as untenable.
Antony Lower, author of Patronymica Britannica,
a Dictionary of the Family Names of the United Kingdom,
(London, 1860), ignores Merrill, Morrill and Morrell as
family names, but mentions Merrell as probably the
same as Murrell, Morell. These two latter he considers
variants of the same name. Merle also he gives as perhaps
the same as Murrell. Mr. Lower ascribes French Huguenot
ancestry to certain of the Morells of England, but he
adds: There were other and earlier importations
of this name into England, the first on record being that
of one Morel, who is mentioned in the Domesday of Norfolk
. The word is a diminutive of the Old French more,
a Moor, and refers to darkness of complexion. (*)
English writer, Charles Wareing Bardsley, in a posthumous
work entitled A Dictionary of English and Welsh
Surnames (London, 1901), groups Morel, Morell, Morrall,
Morrell and Morrill together as having a common origin,
and says they were used originally as nicknames, being
derived from morel, meaning dark-complexioned.
As between the theory that the earliest members of the
family belonged to a light-haired race, and the belief
that the family name is derived from a word meaning dark-complexioned,
there is no occasion to make a choice. A lady of another
family name, who took pride in a strain of Merrill blood,
and sought my aid in tracing her Merrill ancestors, assured
me that all Merrills have light hair and eyes, and
are below the average in hight. Inasmuch as my father
and three brothers all had dark eyes and hair, and averaged
nearly six feet in hight, I had to disagree with her.
And a correspondent once assured me that all Merrills
are very musical people, a statement which any of
my friends, who ever heard me attempt to sing, would dispute,
probably with sarcastic comments.
generalizations are never trustworthy. If a certain Nathaniel8
Merrill were descended from a line of ancestors among
whom there had been no intermarriage of relatives, only
1-128th part of his blood could be considered to be derived
from Nathaniel1 Merrill. In equal degree he
would have inherited the blood of 127 ancestors in other
families, 64 of the total being male and 64 female. A
descendant in the direct male line inherits no more of
the blood of Nathaniel1 Merrill than a descendant
of a daughter of Nathaniels daughter, where the
descent in every case follows a female line, with a change
of name in every generation.
in his Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames,
explains Merrill, Merrall, Merrell, Murrell and Murrells
as originally a baptismal name, signifying the son
of Muriel. He adds: From an early there was
a disposition to pronounce this name [Muriel] Meriel or
Merrell. A little book devoted to the subject of
baptismal names of girlsI have forgotten the titleexplains
Muriel as derived from the Greek µúpov, meaning
Lower tells of Morells living in England
in recent years whose ancestor was a Huguenot refugee
from Champagne. But the migration in this case followed
the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), many years
after the Merrills became established in America.
you have further information on the book, "A Merrill
Memorial" and would like to share it with others,