More Essex Sewells Abroad
By Brian Sewell
This article was originally published in the December 2001 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.
A satisfying consequence of acquiring so much SEWELL information over the last year or two, is not just the ability to significantly lengthen and in many cases, link together several of the many trees we have built up but also the number of stories that subsequently emerge relating to them .
The April 2000 edition of Soul Search carried three such stories, which in varying degrees were linked to each other. Then the August edition of the journal included an article briefly outlining the activities of various Sewells in the Maplestead area, mainly connected with farming and particularly the innovative John Sewell (1756 – 1843) who both Glennis Sewell & Adrian Corder-Birch had already included in their articles. Adrian also mentioned that Robert Sewell (1798 – 1874), son of Isaac Sewell, John Sewell's brother, emigrated to the USA. From his wealth of information, Adrian has kindly provided material concerning Robert and his life in the USA, including; "Our Church Life", volume xiv, no.1, dated November, 1907, being "The Organ of the Congregational Churches of Wisconsin "which contained an article commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Staughton church. The following is taken from the material Adrian provided.
Born in Halstead, Robert SEWELL studied theology with a Rev Dr Cope, somewhere in the South of England. There, he met Elizabeth Bolt from Tavistock but it was twelve years before they were married, "Miss Bolt having been engaged through those years in conducting a young ladies boarding school at Devonport."
They emigrated soon after marrying, firstly to Hamilton, Ontario, then over the border, initially to Madison, New Jersey, then on again to the Fulton area of Wisconsin. In the winter of 1858-9, they finally moved to nearby Stoughton, "where the Congregational Church had been organised the year previous under Mr Sewell’s pastoral care."
"For seventeen years, Mr Sewell, with his family labored faithfully and untiringly for the Master's cause at Staughton and elsewhere in this part of Dane county. The country at that time was crude and uncultivated, the settlements far apart, the conveniences bare and meagre, the roads bad, hence the work of the early minister was hard and arduous, demanding a heroism and fortitude that could only have found its inspiration & power by faith in God." "The church being among the first organised, it was largely a people's church, attended by all denominations" " Here, having been sympathetically helpful in everything pertaining to the best interests of the community, they (Robert & Elizabeth Sewell) passed away, Mr Sewell on February 11, 1874 and Mrs Sewell on October 9, 1888."
Although the article stated Robert Sewell and his wife moved to North America shortly after they married, they had time to have four children , including twins, during the period 1830 - 1832, all born in Halstead, Essex. Their fifth child, Ann Bentall Sewell was born in Madison township in 1837. The involvement of this family in the church did not end with their father's death. Ann Bentall and her elder sister, Hoebe [Hebe] helped to keep the Staughton church community and particularly the Sunday school, together after Robert SEWELL died, as for a long period there was no regular minister. Their second son, Henry, also made a career in the church, whilst another sister Mary, married the Rev Albert A Young, thus carrying on the work of their parents
Acknowledgements: Adrian Corder-Birch, C G Blakely III, Rev Jean S Wilkinson
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