Click here to go back to the main page.

Origin of the Melvin/Melville Surname

Click here to go back to the main page.

The Melvilles are said to have originated from Malleville in the Pays de Caux Normandy and gave their name to the lands of Melville in Midlothian and Fife. Galfridus de Malveill was the first of the name to appear in Scotland in the 12th century and flourished during the reigns of Malcolm IV and William the Lion. The original stock terminated in an heiress, Agnes who married Sir John Ross of Halkhead and their descendant was created Lord Ross by James IV in whose family the barony of Melville remained until 1705.

The title of Earl of Melville in the peerage of Scotland was co-joined since 1704 with that of the Earl of Leven and conferred in 1690 on George, 4th Lord Melville. From him descended Sir John de Melville of Raith in Fife. The 9th in descent of this baron was a favourite of James V and was appointed captain of the Castle of Dunbar, he also received lands of Murdocairnie in Fife. Unfortuately he fell victim of Archbishop Hamilton at the Reformation and was executed. Sir Robert Melville, 1st Lord Melville was very eminent during the reigns of Mary and James. He was employed by the Earl of Moray to oppose Mary's marriage to Darnley and later, when Mary was confined in Loch Leven, he was sent to her by the Earl of Atholl and other nobles with the ring which would be known to her as the sign for her to give up her crown. He was also the one who brought the letter from the English ambassador assuring her Queen Elizabeth's protection - that never came. He adhered to her till her final defeat but survived her and lived to the age of 94 years. He had been created Lord Monymaill and Lord Murdocairnie. The 4th Lord who supported the Duke of Monmouth escaped to Holland only returning with William and Mary of Orange and was created the 1st Earl of Melville. He married Lady Catherine Leslie, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Leven hence their son succeeded as 3rd Earl of Leven in 1682.

The title of Viscount Melville was conferred with Baron Duneira of Perthshire on The Right Hon Henry Dundas, a distinguished statesman in 1802. Andrew Melville was one of the most illustrious Scottsh Reformers who proved as difficult to King James VI as John Knox had proved to Mary Queen of Scots. He was a militant churchman becoming Rector of St Andrews University. He spent years in the Tower of London before being banished. He lived the rest of his life in France as a professor at the protestant University of Sedan.


The text above appears on several sites on the Internet and is believed to be taken from a non-copyrighted source. If you believe this is copyright material please contact Rich Pettit.


MELVILLE: There are many accounts concerning the true origin of this family but for lack of evidence it is impossible to state which is correct. Consensus would seem to indicate a Norman origin and that they came to England with the Norman invaders in 1066 and later, like others, came north when David I returned to Scotland. The first record of the name in Scotland is of Galfrid, sheriff of Edinburgh Castle, who appears in a charter of Malcolm IV in 1162. The lands first associated with the family were those of the same name on the southern outskirts of Edinburgh. Here the line of Melville reigned until Thomas Melville of that Ilk died in 1458, when his debt-ridden estate passed through a daughter to the Rosses of Halkhead. From an early date cadet families of Melvilles became established in Fife where the family of Raith rose to eminence. Sir John, 4th of Raith, Master-General of the Ordnance and Captain of Dunbar Castle, having embraced the Reformed religion, was by intrique was accused of treason and executed in 1548. His various sons added lustre to his line, for while his 2nd son succeeded, his 3rd, Sir Robert of Murdocairnie, became 1st Lord Melville, and others rose to high office at Court and in statesmanship. The 2nd Lord Melville died without issue and his title passed to his cousin John, 7th of Raith. The 4th Lord became 1st Earl of Melville in 1690 and his 4th son, having inherited as 3rd Earl of Leven through a cousin, succeeded also as 2nd Earl of Melville in 1707. From the Rosses, the old Midlothian lands of Melville had passed through various hands until Henry Dundas, "the un-crowned King of Scotland" married the heiress and took the title Viscount Melville from her lands in 1802. His title, allied with the scandal which brought about his downfall three years later, caused great concern for the good name of the Melville family, despite the lack of genealogical association.