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

SEWELL Co-ordinator's Report August 2003

by Diana Kennedy  

In the last few weeks the co-ordinators have been busy preparing trees in readiness for the Sewell CD, so that Tony Storey and Tim Soles can add the information.

It is a mammoth task with over 15,000 names and although a very tedious process, it can be rewarding when a connection that you hadn’t noticed before comes to light. With so many Sewells it is often difficult to make connections particularly with many called John or Mary. Norwich alone has over 25 John’s and it is almost impossible to say which John is the son of John. It makes us realise how much more work there is still to be done and there are still many counties that we hardly cover.

Information has continued to come either independently or as feedback from Soul Search or from the website. Essex co-ordinator Brian Sewell commented to me on the value of articles on the website that can be seen by members and non-members that have encouraged them to make contact with the Society. So if you haven’t done so it might be worth putting ‘pen to paper’ and send it to Soul Search, you never know what may turn up!

We welcome three new Sewell members to the Sole Society. The first of these is Adam Sewell who has traced his family back to 1863 and the marriage of Edward Richard Sewell and Sarah Russell at St Dunstan’s Church, Stepney. According to the 1881 census Edward was born in Billericay and he and Sarah had four children. Adam believed Edward’s father was Joseph, a dairyman and born in Stepney. He contacted the Society after reading Brian Sewell’s article ‘Putting Flesh on the Bones’ on our website. This article mentioned a Joseph Sewell from Billericay, and Adam wondered if this could be his Joseph. Brian has a family tree with Joseph Sewell and son Edward in his Essex records. This Joseph was a dairyman in the mid 1800’s and lived in Billericay High Street. According to one account behind the house where Joseph lived was an old building, said to have been used as a blacksmith’s and it was also used for Joseph Sewell’s cow (or cows).

Census details indicate that Joseph was born in the now extinct hamlet of Buttsbury in 1818 where Brian’s 2x Great Grandfather James was born, so Brian thought there was a possible link between James and Joseph. Brian has just received the 1841 census for Essex, purchased by the Society, so having a few spare moments he began by looking for James. Although the address was unclear, he was astonished to find that immediately after James Sewell his wife Amelia and seven children, the youngest just one day old, there was a Joseph Sewell age 20 (ages were rounded to the nearest 5 years in the 1841 census). Is this Joseph the dairyman? As the 1841 census doesn’t give relationships to the head of family, Brian can only guess the relationship for the moment and whether his family is connected to Adam’s.

Our second new member also has an interest in Essex. Bev Hendy’s family originates from Suffolk but they soon moved to Little Oakley, Essex in about 1815. Russell Sewell was born in 1788 in Sproughton, Suffolk and died in 1860 in Little Oakley. Russell’s wife was Elizabeth and the children were all born in Essex. Despite Russell being an unusual name I have no record of Russell’s parents or his marriage, and no other references to Sproughton in my Suffolk records. The only reference I can find was of Russell Sewell baptised 1813 in Falkenham, Suffolk, the parents given as Russell and Elizabeth. It is likely that this Russell was their first born son but as there is no further mention of this Russell it seems likely that he died in infancy. Essex co-ordinator Brian Sewell told me that this family had extensive farming interests throughout Essex over several decades. It also has more post 1858 Wills available than any other family Brian has come across. Bev has done a lot of work into her family and hopefully we will see it in print soon.

Our third new member Rob Sewell has found his Sewell’s came from Chorley and Bolton in Lancashire. Rob has not been researching very long but found John Sewell born about 1850 married Alice M and had seven children. I found some GRO references for Rob and hope these will take him further back. Rob has kindly offered to help the Society and Tim Soles (editor) very quickly took up the offer, and Rob is now downloading the 1901 census for the CD.

From April’s Soul Search came a reply to the WW1 Victory medal advertised for sale in the name of Sapper William Sewell. I had hardly looked through my copy when I heard from an excited member, Pat Scutt, who was certain she recognised the details as belonging to one of her mother’s uncles. Pat was very keen to purchase the medal, as she knew her mother would be thrilled.

In my last report I mentioned two enquiries connected with Henry Sewell the first Premier of New Zealand. Another connection comes from Sole Society secretary John Amos who found in the County History of Berkshire mention of the Rev William Sewell DD of Exeter College Oxford who founded Radley College in 1847. The Rev William Sewell was an older brother of Henry. John was following up a piece he had read in a local history book Chavey up and Down and Around where he had found a family of Sewell’s. In 1817 the Rev Samuel Sewell was awarded 14 acres in Chavey Down Hill, near Ascot, this land was passed down through the family until 1871. In 1871, Lt Col Charles Sewell used the land as a mortgage, to William Dixon of the Reform Club, Pall Mall, for £2000. In order to repay the loan in 1879 the land was sold.

Research Co-ordinator Tony Storey in the last Soul Search gave details of a letter sent to Anna Sewell from her brother Philip in 1840. This inspired member Peter Foreman to send me the further researches he has made into this family. Some of the updates on the family tree include the family of Joseph Stickney Sewell a cousin of Anna. Joseph was a Quaker missionary and his daughter Lucy married William Johnson. In 1872, Lucy, her husband and a daughter were murdered in a native uprising in Madagascar.

I also mentioned member Judy Wright in my last report, looking for information on John Sewell and his wife Juana. Their son Richard Manuel Sewell was baptised in Chile in 1835. Since then Judy has found John and Juana in the 1851 census for Marylebone, with six sons born in Chile and a son and daughter born in England. The place of birth for John was given as Madras, India and his occupation as the owner of Copper and mines in South America. Juana was born in Chile. Judy is now wondering if there is a connection between Major General Robert Sewell whose son Henry Fane Haylett Sewell was also born in Madras. John died before 1881 as by the 1881 census Juana was a widow with two sons and a daughter at home.

In previous reports I have mentioned Elizabeth Sewell who married Dr Robert Cotton Mather in 1833 at Aldersgate. Rosie Kingman contacted me to say she had seen this report on the website and is researching the Mathers on behalf of a cousin. Elizabeth and Robert’s granddaughter Jessie Margaret married Rosie’s great uncle. Her cousin is also a 2x Great Granddaughter of Elizabeth and Robert as is member Pat Eden. Rosie and Pat are now in touch.

Nan Bosler from Australia found our Society through the GRD. Her Sewell was the George Sewell who was transported to Australia in 1815, followed later by his wife Ellen and five children. Nan says that she is descended from George’s eldest son George. Australian Member Fred Sewell and the actor Rufus Sewell are both descended from George senior’s son John. Nan tells me that she has just spent three days in the original building built about 1830 by John as a pub, now a hotel in Sutton Forest, with other descendants of the family including Fred. A report on the family and a picture of the hotel were published in Soul Search August 2002.

Another meeting occurred after Pam Rose read member Sarah Hay’s article on the website regarding the funeral of Thomas Sewell who died in 1953 at Mountnessing, Essex. Pam’s grandfather Harry Fewell was mentioned as attending the funeral of Thomas. Pam had several photos and wanted to exchange notes with Sarah. Since then Pam and Sarah have met and were able to exchange information and pour over the photos. Co-ordinator Brian Sewell says the information they have unearthed, together with some details he has provided has enabled their tree to develop steadily over the years. Frederick Sewell, one of Sarah’s ancestors, was a gunner in the Royal Artillery and was mentioned by Ian Sewell in his article for Soul Search on Army Records. Brian was able to provide further details from Ian’s work.

Sarah Hays also contacted Jean Agnew, who like her and Brian are researching Sewells in the Billericay and Brentwood area of Essex, although different families. Brian has however found that the death of James Sewell in 1884 in Billericay was not that of his 2x Great Grandfather, but was one of Jean’s ancestors. Brian found the correct James had died in 1891 in Hornchurch aged 90. Meanwhile Jean could not find the marriage in the GRO of James Sewell to Sarah Ballard a widow. Looking through Parish Records that member Ian Sewell had transcribed from Dagenham, Brian found the Marriage in 1839 of James Sawell, to Sarah Ballard. James’ father was given as Abraham. A quick look on the new Saul CD and Brian soon found that in the early 1800’s Sawells seemed to predominate in the Tilbury area by the Thames. However, late in the century the spelling appears to change to Sewell. Jean’s Abraham Sewell according to the 1851 census came from Ireland; her next task is to sort out which of the various Abrahams in the Brentwood area is hers.

Les Hewitt from Napier NZ asks for any help with the marriage of Walter Sewell to Elizabeth May Wallett, in Stepney 1902. I gave Les a reference and am waiting to hear from him. Malcolm Spiers’ mother came from Long Melford, Suffolk, and Malcolm has traced the family back to Edward Sewell, born about 1732 in Hitcham in Suffolk. Malcolm’s mother told him there was a possible connection between her family and that of Anna Sewell. I am unable at present to find any connection between the two families.

Prue Webster sent me details of Thomas Gustavus and Arthur John Sewell who were lace designers in Nottingham. Arthur won a gold medal in 1879 for the best lace design, he was also an avid trout fisherman and an original member of the Nottingham Piscatorial Society. Prue would like to know what happened to Thomas and Arthur and their families after 1901. She has found them both on the 1901 census but no wife for Arthur, who Prue believes married twice, once in 1884 to Mary Scattergood and then to Clara Flewitt. From the GRO Deaths index it is possible that Clara died in 1893 age 38 years.

Christine Slager is looking for information about her grandfather John George Frederick Sewell born in 1883, Bromley, Kent, and married Edith Amy Humphrey in 1910 soon after that they moved to Australia. John’s father was William James, but unfortunately there was no mothers name on his birth certificate. On John’s marriage certificate his occupation was given as a fireman. Christine was unable to find them on the 1901 census. Brian Sewell found John G F in the GRO births and marriages but was also unable to find anything on the 1901 census.

Anne from the States tells me her mother was a Sewell who went to the States in 1964. Anne’s grandfather was Frederick William Sewell who married Ada Beatrice and lived in Waltham Cross, Herts. They had nine children, eight girls and one son. I was able to supply Anne with some GRO references for this large family.

Sewell Cushion WheelsMary Lynne Farrell sent an advert of a fire engine with ‘Sewell Cushion Wheels’. Her Great Grandfather James Sewell together with his brother William produced these wheels in the 1880s in the USA. I am hoping to find more information on this family and their company for the next Soul Search.

Jenny Paul is researching the surname Seawell from Oundle, Northants. She found several Seawells who were living on land owned by Thomas Samuel Seawell. The land ownership coming down through the marriage of Samuel Seawell and Rebecca Mael in 1726 at Surfleet, Lincs. Mike Sewell our Lincolnshire co-ordinator may be able to help.

Also in Northants, Joan Kemp is interested in Sewell or Saywell of Luffield Abbey, and is descended from Martha Sewell who married Joseph Eliot about 1740. Joan is researching whether Joseph was hanged as a Highwayman in 1750. Joan also has details from a Breeches Bible, giving family details including a William Sawell a dairyman of Luffield Abbey died in 7 April 1699. His wife Joan died 20 August 1698. They had four sons William, Edward, and two Johns, one died in infancy. John married Sarah; their children were Joseph, Martha, married Joseph Eliot, Sarah, Mary, Eunice and Elizabeth.

Phil Richardson is researching the Sewell’s from Tettsworth, Oxford. He is descended from his 2x Great Grandmother Charlotte Sewell who married a John Haynes around 1858. Phil found Charlotte’s marriage in 1858 at Southwark under Charlotte Lewell. Charlotte was the daughter of Joseph and Phoebe Sewell, Joseph being the son of John Sewell and his second wife Charlotte Archer, all from Tettsworth. In the 1881 census Phil found Charlotte living in Clerkenwell, nearby were two sons William H Sewell and Richard Sewell with their families. It seems likely that Charlotte had two sons born before her marriage to John Haynes.

I have also received several pieces of interesting information regarding the name Sewell, the first from Sarah Spink who sent me the details she had found about Henry Sewell who died following a mining accident in Durham. Henry originally came from Norfolk. Sarah also gave me the website of the Durham Mining Museum and this lead to an interesting hour or two where I found a few more Sewell’s who died from mining accidents in Durham mines.

Meanwhile member Tony Foster was on holiday in Killarney, Ireland. He spotted ‘Sewell’s Family Pharmacy’ founded 1856 and still operating as a chemist. Saul member Alma Merritt found a document with a John Sewall as one of the many signatories. Although not dated it is in sixteenth century hand and refers to dealings of the Company and Fellowship of Weaver and Clothiers.

Finally, another member Diana Sewell found in the Portsmouth Parish Records ‘Charles Sowell ‘souldier’ buried 9th February 1729/30. Diana wonders how far Charles was from home and was someone looking for him, then or now!

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