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

SEWELL Co-ordinator's Report August 2004

by Diana Kennedy  


I am pleased to welcome four new members to the Sole Society with an interest in the Sewell name.


The first of these is Shirley Oxenbury who says that so far the Sewell line of one of her great grandparents is the only one she has been unable to unravel. She is therefore anxious to make progress. Shirley has traced back to Sarah Ann Sewell, aged 24 years who married James Clifton in 1860 in Basford Nottingham; her place of residence was given as Sneinton, Nottingham. Sarah Ann gave her father as John Sewell, a brickmaker. Subsequent censuses show Sarah Ann as being born in Spalding, Lincolnshire. Shirley has been unable to trace Sarah Ann's father, John Sewell. One possibility Shirley found, is the John Sewell, who died in the Union Workhouse at Spalding in 1872 age 64. Lincolnshire co-ordinator Mike Sewell has found two John Sewells who were both born in Spalding in 1809. However he has found only one Sarah Ann Sewell baptised in Spalding, between 1831 and 1840. This Sarah Ann was born to Harriet Sewell in 1840, making her only 19years in 1860. Shirley is hoping to find John Sewell in the 1851 census for Spalding.


Jean Cooper's grandmother was Minnie Sewell and Jean says that all of her Sewells are from small pit villages to the south west of Durham City. I passed Jean's information on to Eric Sewell our Durham co-ordinator to see if he could help Jean. Eric found Jean's family and has been able to add to his records the extra information that Jean gave him and is hoping to link this family with others in the area. Jean has promised to look out for the Sewells for us as she goes through the 1861 census.


Audrey Render first contacted Cumberland co-ordinator, Eric Sewell in 2001 and Eric was able to help in moving Audrey's research further forward. Audrey's ancestors include John Sewell who was born in 1829 and in the 1851 census was living in Carlisle Cumberland as a lodger. Audrey however is still unable to find where John was born or a marriage for him.


Our last new member Andrew Sewell says that his research is currently on lots of paper. So far Andrew has traced his family back to his great grandfather George Edward Joseph Sewell who was born in Shoreditch in 1874. Andrew thought that George's father might be Daniel Sewell who was born around 1850 in the GRO. However on the Sewell CD I found the correct Daniel was born in 1822 at Crays Hill, Essex. Daniel and his wife had several children before George was born. Thanks to Essex co-ordinator Brian Sewell, this family is well documented on the CD together with Daniel's army career and his later occupation as prison warder.


As many of you may know, particularly those with Essex connections, Brian has been ill. He is back home now and improving slowly and hopes to get back on the computer soon. We all wish him a speedy recovery.


I have received two more comments on the Sewell CD, both complementary. Member Donna Clarke said that she has found several of her Sewell family in the 1901 census. She also pointed out an error that may not be entirely the fault of the transcriber. Donna's great grandmother was Statyra or Statira, but is given in the 1901 census as Hatira. Statyra is such a unique name that it is probably not surprising it has been wrongly transcribed.


Member Mo Loake sent to say she had not been able to find any connections on the CD to her Sewell family. Mo traces her ancestor's back to Thomas Sewell who married Ann Slater at Castor, Northants in 1766. Although both Thomas and Ann died at Castor, Mo does not know where Thomas was born. Ruth Pringle our Northants co-ordinator could find the marriage record of Thomas but is unable at present to find a baptismal record.


Thanks to Ruth, Northants is one of the areas where our records are increasing. Ruth who has only recently taken over as co-ordinator for the area, has already made good progress. Even her husband has been helping with transcribing BMD for Byfield 1688-1772.


In the April edition of Soul Search, I mentioned recently joined member Bernard Price. Bernard had been searching for his great grandfather Thomas Francis Sewell for about three years, he knew he died in Hull in 1929 aged 77yrs, and from the 1891 and 1901 census, that he was born in Norfolk, either Hackford or Hingham. Thomas married Alice King in the Wesleyan Chapel in Attleborough in 1879 but did not give his father's name either there or on his civil marriage certificate. Member Diana Sewell's ancestors also came from the Hackford and Hingham area of Norfolk and she was interested in Bernard's problem. Diana had seen in the 1891 and 1901 census, Oscar Frank Sewell in her family and sent for the birth certificate. Diana then sent me a copy of the certificate. Oscar Frank had been born illegitimately in 1887 to Gertrude Sewell the daughter of Stephen Sewell and Maria nee Taylor. It appeared that Gertrude was in Hull for the birth and the informant was Alice Sewell.


I sent Bernard the details of the certificate and he confirmed that the address on the birth certificate was the same address as that for Thomas Francis and his family in the 1891 census. Bernard said that some of his family members had the middle name Taylor, it therefore seemed possible that Thomas Francis was an illegitimate son of Maria Taylor. The GRO confirmed that Thomas Francis Taylor was born in 1851. Maria Taylor married Stephen Sewell in 1853. So was Stephen the father of Thomas Francis Taylor, he appears to have used the Sewell name from the 1870's, so why did Thomas not give his father's name at his marriage? Maybe Bernard will never know, but he is now in contact with Diana and they have exchanged information.


Although it has been fairly quiet we have had a few enquiries. The first was from Sandra Williams who asked if I knew about a John Blisbury Sewell. John married at St Martin in the Fields, Westminster in 1770. His son, also John Blisbury Sewell, was born in 1777 and baptised in 1807 at St Andrew Holborn. Sandra's more recent ancestors include Adolph Thomas Sewell, who I found had left a Will. So although I could not help Sandra with John Blisbury, she was going to follow up Adolph's Will.


Ian Sewell was casually glancing though Yahoo's search pages for his name when he came across our site and saw an article on the name Thomas Sewell by member Ian Sewell. Intrigued he logged onto our homepage. Ian wondered if his family is connected to the Essex families. Although Ian was born in Yorkshire his father was born in Hackney. His grandfather Thomas William Sewell was born in the East End and although Ian knew he died in Batley Yks in 1976 he did not know when he was born. He also knew that Thomas William had married Ada in 1925 although they later divorced. I was able to give Ian a few GRO references including that his grandmother's name had been Ada Stone. Ian has now been in touch with the other Ian.


Cynthia Cheney sent me a message to say that she is researching the name Harfield and its variants, but that a cousin had sent copies of two letters that mentioned the name Sewell and was I interested? She had no idea why her family had the letters as she knew of no connection with the Sewell name. Naturally I asked for copies and was delighted to find that they referred to my own Suffolk ancestors. The first was from the Suffolk Will Office and was dated 1854. It was addressed to Joseph Hearfield of Limehouse, London. The Will Office asked Joseph Hearfield to send 18 shillings (about 90p) for the copy of a Sewell Will. The second was a letter written in 1868 to John Harefield by Amy Ely. Amy Sewell married John Ely in 1833 and was the youngest sister of my x3 great grandfather Dan Sewell, who died in 1853. The letter makes clear that William Brown, one of the executors of Dan's Will, had not paid all of the beneficiaries. Amy says that she went down in the summer to see her nephew Dan Sewell in Woking, to see if his sister `poor Betsey' had received her money. It appears that only his other sister Emmer had not received her share. Amy went on to mention other names, places and events that made it certain she was writing about my family. Although I had thought that Dan might have had more than the three sons I knew of, Dan's Will unfortunately only named two sons. The letter confirms the existence of two daughters, Betsey and Emmer. I have not found the baptismal record for these daughters, which is perhaps not surprising since I have not been able to find the baptismal record for my x2 great grandfather Jonathan Sewell in 1824.  The mystery is why the Harefields were so interested in the Will of a Sewell? Neither Cynthia nor I can find a connection at present.


I can see that the problem will occupy me for some time to come, as well as a renewed research into the parish records! 

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