Throughout my lifetime I have been asked on numerous occasions…you have such an unusual surname, where does it come from and can you spell it please? 

Having carried out extensive family research with my wife, Janet, since the early 1970’s, we discovered that the hamlet of Feugères, Manche, Normandy, and the commune of Fougères in Brittany, about 200 kilometres south of Feugéres, are linked. The origins of the Dupérouzel / Duperouzel families can be traced back to Raoul le Pérouzel in the commune of Feugères who is mentioned in Archive 5E5987 dated 1606. However, extensive research carried out in Rennes and Paris, and elsewhere in France, indicate the origins of the family, who carried the ‘Pérouzel’, are linked back to the 13th century to a small hamlet by the name of Pérouzel, located near Fougères. 

 Article 5E5987 is part of a very large volume entitled, ‘21 Marigny, ARTICLES 1-29, 1562-1710, Remilly, Mesnilbus, Saint-Sauveur-Lendelin’. These invaluable records are held with the Archives Départementales de la Manche, Saint-Lô, Manche. Written in ‘old’ French the entries between 1562-1650 are extremely difficult to read and translate. In many instances they are almost impossible to interpret but they were successfully translated into modern French by Monsieur Nedelec, the head archivist at the Archives Départementales de la Manche. In all, there are 38 separate entries in the Marigny Articles referring to members of the Dupérouzel / Duperrouzel family written between 1606-1707. It was easier to decipher the main points of the entries from the 1700s onwards as these are more clearly written. A few of the earliest records are listed below: 

  • Article 5E5987, dated 1606: This describes a property transaction involving three brothers Gilles dupérouzel, Robert dupérouzel and Julien dupérouzel who were selling a property called ‘Ourry’ in the small hamlet of Feugères, near Coutances, following the death of their father, Raoul le pérouzel. 
  • Article 5E5987, dated 1616: This entry refers to Robert selling ruined houses belonging to Raoul, his father, in the nearby hamlet Le Mesnil Eury in 1583. 
  • Article 5E5988, dated 1613: The fourth son of Raoul, Thomas dupérouzel, is mentioned when he moved from Feugères to the nearby commune of Hauteville-la-Guichard. 
  • Article 5E5989, dated 1625: This entry describes Gilles and Julien as honourable men’ giving their brother, Robert, to the priesthood. 

In Feugères, where Raoul and his family lived, there is a very large farmhouse dating from the 16th century called ‘le Pérouzel’. This consists of 16 hectares and is believed to be the original homestead of Raoul le pérouzel and his family. The ‘le’ Pérouzel’ farmhouse has since been in the ownership of the ‘de la Conté family from Saint Brice-en-Coglès, Brittany, for at least four centuries. Saint Brice-en-Coglès is situated 15 kilometres west of Fougères, near the hamlet ‘Perouzel’. 

 It is possible Raoul le pérouzel may have come from Brittany to Normandy from the small hamlet Pérouzel, located between Fougères and Rennes, in the département of Ille-et-Vilaine, Brittany. 

According to Monsieur Hodebert, Head Archivist at the Archives Municipales in Fougères, the hamlet of Pérouzel indicates the name was well known in the XII century by the Latin name of Petrosellum. In France prior to the 13th century nearly all place names were Latin based. From the 13th century onwards they were translated into French so eventually Petrosellum became Pérousel or Pérouzel. It appears the name stabilised as Pérouzel in the 13th century. It is highly probable that trade led some members of the Pérouzel family to move from Brittany to settle in Normandy in the middle of the 16th century. It was not uncommon for families who moved away from their roots to add the prefix ‘Du’ or ‘du’, meaning ‘of the’ or ‘from the ‘. Thus, Dupérouzel or Duperrouzel would have become their surname. 

Sadly, there are no known people who carry the surname Dupérouzel or Duperrouzel in France in 2021. The last known French relative to carry the family name was Suzanne Dupérouzel, the mother of Gilbert Ledoux, who passed away in le Mesnil Bus, near Feugères in 2005, aged 92. The last known person with the surname Duperrouzel was Jeanne Marie Eugéine Françoise Duperrouzel who died in 1967, aged 70 years. Her gravestone in the Saint Aubin-du-Perron cemetery, near Feugères, is inscribed Jeanne Dupérouzel.

Over the years Janet and I have met many ‘distant French relatives’ who carry the surname Pérouzel or Pérousel living in Brittany and elsewhere in France whose origins can be traced back to Fougères, Brittany. However, it has not been possible to ‘marry up’ our respective family trees.

For further reading click here: Petrosellum | William Duperouzel