The origin of the name Grivel is not obvious. Different people have offered different explanations, which are represented here.
The name Grivel can be explained by the color “poivre et sel” which is between black (the colour of pepper “poivre”) and white (the colour of salt): so grey (gri..vel), in fact!
Others say that Grivel is linked with what we call a “grivelerie”: a swindle. For instance people used to say “une grivelerie” when speaking of for instance a eating without paying for it.
I do not have precise information about the origine of the Grivel name. However, on the familly arms that were, and are hopefully still, hanging in my father’s house [see image on the left, click for full size], there is a bird, called “Grive” in French standing on there. According to a Swiss dictionnary of genealogy, the familly name was already recorded in the 14th century in Switzerland (or more precisely in a region that became Swiss later on).
Note that this coat of arms is the one from the Grivel family originating from Switzerland, more precisely from Esmonts and Morlens, which are small villages from the southern part of the canton of Fribourg.
Marc has sent me the following image of a French Grivel coat of arms (click to view full size):
Marc translates this as follows:
Grivel: From the Aulps Valley, part of the family in Evian. Known since 1312. Maitre (master) Francois Grivel de Insula, Notaire Ducal (lawyer of the duke) XVIe century. Part of the Family at Morzine (where my wife family came from): Grivel Delilaz, Grivel Nepveur (Neveux), Maitre (Master) Nicolas Grivel, lawyer since 1351; Grivel de villa-nova d’isle (from the island), Mercator 1520.
So in fact in the chablay (small part of the savoy region) where this armoiry came from, there are two place where the grivel are, Evian and Morzine, with for Morzine all the following name (Grivel Delilaz, Grivel Neveux..... ) it’s true cause when I made some research in this town, I found some Grivel Beveux, and Grivel Delilaz.
Cut, with silver at green fir tree with two thrushs with color of sand; and with azure at the golden stripe (bend) go with two half silver wings. The trushes are more oftennatural, well the top of the wings and the head with the sand color, and the rest in gold color with some black points (grivelé).
(About the Grivel name in St. Livres and Aubonne, which is in the state of Vaud in Switzerland.)
Il y a tant à dire, d’abord il est à peu près certain que les Grivel d’Aubonne sont originaires de Saint-Livres. La preuve est apportée par le Livre d’Or des familles vaudoises 1932 p. 224: La famille Grivel de Saint-Livres obtient la bourgeoisie d’Aubonne en 1595. La famille Grivel obtient la bourgeoisie de Saint-Livres avant 1592.
Comme le dernier Terrier concernant St-Livres que j’ai consulté montre clairement qu’il y a encore deux branches de Grivel en 1506, il y a fort à parier qu’en 1480 à peu près, une génération précédente, les Grivel faisaient déjà partie de la bourgeoisie de St-Livres. Je suis content car par cette preuve, je fais mentir un document qui date de 1932!
For those who do not read French, I believe Serge is saying that the Grivel family was “admitted to the freedom of the city” in Aubonne in 1595. The same thing happened in Saint-Livres, near Aubonne, in 1592. Older records, before there was a civil registry in Switzerland, show that Grivels were already living in the St. Livres area in the 15th century.
He continues to speculate about this history of the Grivel name:
... mais il est vrai que pour beaucoup de généalogistes, les Grivel seraient un déformation des Grivaz de Payerne qui ont obtenu la bourgeoisie de cette ville en 1444. (En latin Grivel s’écrit Grivez). Cela dit, aucune preuve ne vient étayer cette supposition.
Loosely translated, it says that many genealogists believe that the name “Grivel” comes from “Grivaz de Payerne” (“Grivel” is written “Grivez” in Latin), a family which obtained “the freedom of the city” in Payenne in 1444.