The KEARVELL Family of Bosham - our entry in the next
(the following is the copy submitted in 2001 to Angela Bromley-Martin, local Bosham
historian and author of the 'Bosham Omnibus', for inclusion in the Bosham Families
section of the re-write of that book.)
"The family name of KEARVELL can be traced back in Bosham across 12 generations to
1693. In that year our oldest known ancestor, Francis Kervil (Unk-1715), married
Elizabeth Cupin (1671-1707), the youngest daughter of Stephen and Rose Cupin from
So far, we have been unable to trace the origins of Francis but there are several
theories within the family. The most common story, handed down through the generations,
talks of two brothers coming over from Brittany or Normandy and settling in Sussex.
Certainly, Bosham was a thriving port at that time in the 17th Century and the story
may well have a ‘ring of truth’ and help explain why Francis just "appears" in Sussex
without any earlier evidence. ‘Ker’ is a Breton word meaning a farm or small village
and Kervil, although unusual, is still seen as a
surname in several parts of France. Another credible theory is that Francis may have
come from South Hampshire. Geographically it is close to Bosham and the surname can
be found there in the 16/17th Century.
Our name has seen at least 19 variations in the way it has been spelled in Parish
records. The earliest Kervil, Kervel, Karvil and Kervile became Kervell, Kearvele,
Kearvil and, by 1752, Kearvell. Variations continued until about 1840, shortly after
the start of Civil Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages, when the modern-day
Kearvell became almost universally used. Now, all Kearvells throughout the World
can be connected back to that one marriage in Bosham, a truly unique family.