Diana KennedyThe Sole Society, a Family History Society researching Sole, Saul, Sewell, Solley and similar names

SEWELL Co-ordinator's Report April 2013

by Diana Kennedy  



I have had very few enquiries over these last few months. One however from Alfred Doo seemed at first to be straightforward but was to prove a bit of a challenge although solving the problem was very satisfying. But of course as we know in family history there are always more questions than answers.

The enquiry from Alfred Doo asked whether I had any information on Elise Sewell who married Henry Doo probably in the 1860s. With a name like Elise I thought that should be easy, although I couldn’t remember the name from our records. A search of the records revealed no Elise Sewell. I thought that maybe the name could have been wrongly transcribed and maybe it was Alice, Elsie or Eliza, again I could not make a connection.

From late census data we knew Elise to have been born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire about 1835. But the IGI showed no Elise Sewell baptised in the area. A further complication was that Henry Doo had changed his name in 1863 to Henry Doo Rawlings, which meant I need to look for marriages for Doo-Rawlings, Doo and Rawlings.

The 1861 census for Tottenham, Middlesex showed Henry Doo aged 26 a mineral water manufacturer born in Sydenham in Kent. His wife was given as Sarah aged 42. Her occupation was given as a ginger beer manufacturer and she was born in Marylebone, London. There were two sons living in the family given with the surname of Rawlings, Henry and Arthur.

A search on Ancestry.co.uk revealed a marriage of Henry Doo to Sarah Rawlings in 1857; his father was Henry Doo a coal merchant which I knew to be the correct one. Sarah was a widow at the time and presumably had inherited the Ginger Beer company from her late husband. Almost next on the ancestry site was a marriage for Emily Elizabeth Doo to a James William Rawlings. Emily Elizabeth’s father was also given as Henry, a merchant, and therefore likely to be his sister. Obviously Henry Doo became Henry Doo-Rawlings in 1863 for business reasons, to combine the mineral water business with the ginger beer enterprise.

The 1871 census for Wandsworth showed Henry D Rawlings aged
34 Mineral Water Manufacturer.
His wife now was Elise age 33
born in Berkhamsted, Hertforshire. Presumably Sarah had died about 1863. The couple had two sons and a daughter plus Arthur, a stepson.

A search on both Ancestry.co.uk and Find My Past revealed no marriages of Henry Doo or Henry Rawlings to Elise Sewell or indeed anyone with the name of Sewell under the names of Doo, Doo-Rawlings or Rawlings together with any variants. Next port of call was to find Elise in Berkhamsted. With nothing in our records for Berkhamsted after the 1600s I turned to the IGI. This revealed one Sewell family and one Seawell family at that time in Berkhamsted. Neither family had a daughter called Elise. I thought maybe Elise was not a Sewell by birth but by marriage as she was nearing 30 years when she married Henry Doo Rawlings.

I then went back to the information supplied by Albert Doo, and noted that Elise had died in 1892 in Godstone, Surrey, but her husband Henry had lived a further ten years. Henry had died in Paris in 1904; his Will showed that he left over £46,000, a considerable sum! I thought perhaps Elise was of French descent. The name Elise is French in origin and is a short form of Elisabeth, coming into England in the late 19th century.

Having searched both Ancestry and Find My Past I decided to try the Genealogist.co.uk which I had recently started subscribing to. Eureka! Putting in the name Henry Doo Rawlings came up trumps. Henry Doo Rawlings of Marylebone, a widower, had married in Paris in 1864 at the English Episcopal Church in the house of His Majesty’s Embassy.  The marriage was with the consent of the Ambassador (this appears to be the normal practice) and one of the witnesses was the secretary of His Majesty’s Embassy.

One slight problem was that Henry’s spouse was given as Jane Sewell not Elise. She was a spinster and came from Wandsworth. Unfortunately the registry in Paris does not give the same details as British records. There are no names of fathers or occupations given. The only information on Jane was that she was a spinster and was of the Parish of Wandsworth in London.

Back once more to the families in Berkhamsted and to look for Jane. Using the 1841 and 1851 censuses for Berkhamsted I found James Sewell and his wife Ann with a large family but no Elise, but there was however a daughter called Jane. James had originally come from Egremont, Cumberland. The IGI showed a baptism for Jane Sewell on the 18th July 1835, at the Independent Church in Great Berkhamsted. Right date, right place, but wrong name. By 1861 James and Ann Sewell and some of their children were living in Lambeth, South London, but daughter Jane was not with them. Once again searching through all of the sites I could find no Elise or Jane in 1861. Perhaps Jane was already living in Paris. If so did she decide to stop being ‘plain Jane’ and change her name to the more exotic Elise?

Jane’s father James was the son of John and Elizabeth Sewell and was baptised James Shepherd Sewell 18th January 1799 in Egremont, Cumberland. James married Ann Earp on 26th December 1826 in Berkhamsted. Ann died in 1868 and James married Susannah Hermes in 1870, the mother in law of Joseph, his youngest son. The couple retired to Ramsgate in Kent where James died in 1875.


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