Select Duval Genealogy

Duval is a French surname meaning “of the valley” and would describe someone who would be residing there. 

Duvall and Duvall are the main spellings today.  The name crossed the Atlantic to French Canada as Duval.  Normans brought the DuVal name to England.  Huguenots brought DuVal also to America.  But the spelling there became Duvall in one main line after a few generations

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There are some 35,000 Duvals in France today.  The name has been highly concentrated in Normandy in NW France.  Many were to be found at Alencon in Orne department.  Georges Duval, the early 19th century French playwright, came from Valognes in Manche department.

EnglandNormans brought a version of the Duval name to England.  The original family name may have been Valinscourt, reportedly descended from the Duke of Valors.  This became in England de Val or de Wall or simply Wall over time.   The Irish branch of the family, based at Dunmoylan castle in Limerick, assumed the Wall surname.  One line here led to John Wall Du Val and to his grandson Charles Allen Du Val, a notable Victorian portrait painter. 

Claude Du Vall, said to have come from a noble family in Normandy which had been stripped of its name and title, arrived in London in the early 1660's.  He pursued a short career as a "gentleman" highwayman before he was captured and executed in 1670.

At the time of the 1891 census there were fewer than 240 Duvals in England.

Canada.  The earliest recorded Duval in French Canada was probably Jean Duval, a locksmith in Nova Scotia who had moved there from Normandy.  He was implicated in a conspiracy to hand French Canada over to Spain and was hanged by the French in 1608. 

Duvals from Normandy were also settlers in Quebec.  Early marriages there showed: 
  • Pierre and Romain Duval as husbands in the 1650’s, both sons of emigrants Pierre and Jeanne Duval   
  • Jean Duval, a soldier who had arrived in the 1650’s and a husband at Contrecoeur in 1678  
  • and Jean Duval, a husband in Quebec also in 1678.  He was killed by Iroquois Indians twelve years later
Pierre Thuot dit Duval arrived in Quebec just after 1700.

Not all of the Duvals in Canada were French.  Edmund Hillyer Duval had come from London to St. John, New Brunswick in 1845 to teach and he established a British school there.   But there were French roots in his past.  Edmund's great grandfather Pierre Duval had been a Huguenot weaver from Normandy who had moved to London in the 1730's.

America.  The Duval/Duvall lines in America stemmed primarily from two Huguenot immigrants, one into Maryland and the other into Virginia.

Maryland.  Marin Duval, a Huguenot at his family estates in Normandy, became Mareen Duvall after his landing in Maryland in 1650.  By the time of his death in 1699 he had become a considerable landowner there, owning several thousand acres in Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties.  His primary home was the Middle Plantation in Anne Arundel.

Mareen was married three times and was the father of twelve children, most of them born in America.  The main line of descent has been from his son Mareen.  But there was also an older son John, iniitially left behind in France, who came to Maryland later, in 1678.  This Captain John Duvall made his home at Wilson's Grove plantation and had perhaps the nost distinguiished record in his lifetime.

Harry W. Newman's 1952 book Mareen Duvall of Middle Plantation covered his descendants.  Among his most notable Duvall descendants were:
  • Gabriel Duvall, a US Associate Supreme Court Justice from 1811 to 1835
  • Isaac Duval, a brigadier general in the Union army during the Civil War
  • Betty Duvall, a Confederate spy in the Civil War
  • and (much later) the actor Robert Duvall.
One Duvall line, through John Miles Duvall and his son Jacob, migrated in the late 1780's from Maryland to Kentucky where they eventually settled in Grayson county.  John Miles had married into a Catholic family and Catholics were not particularly welcome in Maryland at that time.

"Family legend has John Miles Duvall dying in Virginia by drowning in the Potomac river around 1787.  He was supposedly taking his family, along with several other Catholic families, to Kentucky."

Kentucky is the state with the largest numbers of Duvalls today.

Virginia.  Daniel Duval, another Huguenot known in France as Chevalier Duval, fled Normandy for England from where he departed on the Nassau in 1701 for Virginia.  His line was covered in Bessie Grabowski's 1931 book The DuVal Family of Virginia.  Among his descandants were:
  • William Pope Duval who was the first civilian Governor of Florida, holding the post from 1822 to 1834.
  • and two of William's sons who participated in the failed Texas Revolution against Mexico in 1835.   Burr was executed, but John survived to make a name for himself as "the father of Texas literature."  Another son Thomas became a prominent Texas judge.  Their story was told in Roy Swift’s 1995 book Civilizers: The DuVals of Texas.
Other Sightings.  William Devol from Lincolnshire came to America in 1640 and settled in Rhode Island.  He was said to have been of Huguenot origin.  It looks like some of his descendants became Davall or Duvall: 
  • the Davalls of Sag Harbor, Long Island included in their number Captain John Davall who was killed in Savannah, Georgia in 1801 by the accidental firing of a cannon during the July 4th celebrations.
  • while George Duvall from Rhode Island settled in Shelter Island in the 1860’s.  Ralph Duvall wrote a history of the island in 1932.  
Dr. Jean Formy-Duval fled Revolutionary France for Haiti and ended up around 1795 in Columbus county, North Carolina.  He was an early cotton planter there.  His son John settled in Florida and fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War.  Some descendants shortened their surname to Duval.

Canadian Duvals crossed the border into America.  Included in their number were the descendants of early immigrant Pierre Thuot dit Duval – some of them migrating to
Monroe county, Michigan near Detroit in the late 1700’s while Charles and Sarah Duval arrived in Wisconsin in 1873.

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If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

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Claude Du Vall from Normandy was a famous highwayman in the roads around London in the 1660's.
Mareen Duvall, a French Huguenot, arrived in Maryland in 1650 and was the forebear of most Duvalls in America. 
William Duval was the first civilian Governor of Florida, from 1822 to 1834.
Robert Duvall is an Oscar-winning American actor. 

Select Duvals Today
  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 12,000 in America (most numerous in Kentucky)
  • 11,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)