Recorded as Kivell and Kivelle, this rare surname has
three possible origins.
Firstly it may be Old Cornish, from a personal name spelt
in several ways including Gyfel, Cyfel, or Cuvel, and thought to derive
from the Welsh word "ceffyl," meaning a horse.
Secondly and again Cornish, it may be locational, and
a short form of the placenames Nanskeval or Nanskivell, in the parish
of St. Mawgan in Pyder, or St. Michael Penkevil. The former is recorded
as "Nanscuvel" in 1277, and means "valley of Cyfel", while the latter
is recorded as Penkevel circa 1210, and from "penn", meaning head
and "kevyll", and referring to the resemblance of the being a promontory
between two tidal rivers, to a horse's head. Recordings of the surname
from early church registers include: John Kivell who married Elizabeth
Paule on September 13th 1568, at Wolborough, and Robert Kivelle or
Keville, a christening witness at Ashwater, on October 1st 1758. Both
recordings being in the county of Devon.
The third possible origin is Anglo-Saxon, and a variant
form of the locational surname Cavell, Cavil or Cavill, from the place
called Cavil in the county of East Yorkshire. This place is recorded
as "Cafeld" in the year 959 a.d., and from the Olde English pre 7th
century word "ca", meaning jackdaw, and "feld", pasture or open country.
The first recording of the surname, below, is from this
source, and examples from church registers include the christening
of Anne Kivell, the daughter of Francis Kivell, at Belton in Axholme,
Lincolnshire, on March 1st 1662.
The first recorded spelling of the family name is that
of Tomas de Kavill. This was dated 1190, in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire,
during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as "The Lionheart", 1189
Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have
continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the