This surname of RAVENEL was a locational name meaning 'one who came from RAVENHILL' in the North Riding of Yorkshire. The name was originally rendered in the Old Norman form HFRANHILDR, literally meaning the dweller at the hill frequented with ravens. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. Other spellings of the name include RAVENHILL, REVENALL and REVNELL. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Willelmus filius RAUENILDE, who was recorded in 1297 in County Surrey, and William RAVENILD appears in 1301.Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. Later instances of the name include Anna Maria, daughter of John RAVENELL, who was baptised at St. Mary, Aldermary, London in the year 1700, and John RAVENHILL and Mary Patrick were wed at St. George's, London in 1787. Before the 1066 Conquest names were rare in England, the few examples found were mainly adopted by those of the clergy or one who had taken holy orders. In 1086 the conquering Duke William of Normandy commanded the Domesday Book. He wanted to know what he had and who held it, and the Book describes Old English society under its new management in minute detail. It was then that surnames began to be taken for the purposes of tax-assessment. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name.
In the Middle Ages the Herald (old French herault) was an officer whose duty it was to proclaim war or peace, carry challenges to battle and messages between sovereigns; nowadays war or peace is still proclaimed by the heralds, but their chief duty as court functionaries is to superintend state ceremonies, such as coronations, installations, and to grant arms. Edward III (1327-1377) appointed two heraldic kings-at-arms for south and north, Surroy and Norroy in 1340. The English College of Heralds was incorporated by Richard III in 1483-84.
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