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

A Sewell "Who was Who

By Eric L Sewell

This article was originally published in the March 1999 edition of Soul Search and revised in Jan 2002

The early SEWELLs, and those carrying the personal name SEWALLO, seem to have been mainly ordinary folk, hardly rising beyond the rank of tradesman or yeomen farmer. The early tax returns indicate the following as men with resources above the most basic:

1292 Sewallo de Godesname, Cheap Ward, London was possibly the son of Sewal de Springfield, Essex

1332 Henrico and Johanne de Sewell of Houghton Regis and Dunstable, Beds

1332  John Sewel of Damerham, Wilts

These men were paying taxes of between 8s and 10s when the majority paid only a few pence and the richest only a few pounds.

Amongst the SEWELLs appearing in  a variety of other records are:

Sewal de Ettington (d.c.1129), a knight whose grandfather, Sewallis, was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as holding the manor of Ettington (Derbys). When his son James moved to Shirley (Derbys) in 1165, he adopted the name Shirley. Through marriage, the Shirleys inherited the estate of Staunton Harold (Leics). In 1711 their descendants acquired the title of Viscount Tamworth and Earl Ferrers. The Domesday name was adopted by a late 19c  member of the family -  Sewallis Evelyn Shirley of Ettington Park. (The Ancester, No 3, 1902)

Sawalli son of Henrici  appears as a servant of Ricrard I and King John, holding property in Newcastle. (Testa de Nevil)

Sewal de Bovill, archbishop of York, was educated at Oxford, became a canon of Southwell in 1236 and dean of York in 1249. The licence for his election as Archbishop was dated 28 May, 1255 (Patent Roll). Henry III, however, did not give his assent, on the grounds of illegitimacy, until 4 May 1256 (Patent Roll), the Pope having first confirmed the appointment. Unfortunately, Sewal objected to the papal appointment of an Italian to succeed him as dean, and this led to his excommunication. The dispute was settled in 1257 by granting the Pope's nominee a pension. As a former pupil of St Edmund of Abingdon he was given permission to go on a pilgrimage to Edmund's  shrine at Pontigny in Burgundy, but he died on 10 May 1257 and was buried in the south transept at York. He appeared amongst Fuller's Worthies in 1662, and was reported as having been regarded by popular acclaim as a saint.  (Biog. Reg. of the Univ. of Oxford & DNB)

Simon de Siwelle (or Suelle, Suthwelle, Suwell) studied at Bologna. He became a canon and prebendary of Lincoln and treasurer of Lichfield c.1205. He was a Papal judge delegate 1191-98.

Henry Sewallies was Mayor of London in 1282  (Historical Manuscripts Commission 1966)

John de Sewell was most probably one of the Bedfordshire Sewells, and followed the Black Prince to Aquitaine in 1366.  There is a late 14th century tomb of a knight, said to be that of Sir John Sewell, in the south aisle of All Saints, Houghton Regis (Beds). (Rymer's Foedera, & VCH)

Thomas Sewale of West Wratting was sheriff of Cambridgeshire & Huntingdonshire in 1375 and 1382 and may have descended from Sewal de Wicham (Wickham) mentioned in 1199.  The family held Bernhams manor in 1361. (VCH & Fuller's Worthies).

Thomas Suell was abbot of Quarr (IOW), 1397-1399. (VCH)

Willam Sewall acquired the manor of Weldes (Sewalds), Harlow in 1428 (VCH)

John Seawale became sheriff of Essex & Hertfordshire in 1381. His Arms display a chevron betwixt three bees (Hist. of Antiq. in Herts & Fuller's Worthies).  He may be the John Sewale of Coggeshall (Essex) who was mentioned in 1369 (Feet of Fines), 1388 (Inq. Post-Mortem) and in 1389 (Court of Hustings).

John Sewale acted as suffragan bishop in the Lincoln diocese in 1414. (Bishop's Register)

John Sewalle appeared amongst the Berkshire gentry in 1433 (Fuller's Worthies)

John Sewell was listed amongst the  Bedfordshire gentry in 1433 (Fuller's Worthies & VCH)

Henry Sewell was another of the Bedfordshire gentry in 1433 (Fuller's Worthies & VCH)

Richard Sewale was one of the Essex gentry in 1433 (Fuller's Worthies)

John Sewell was mentioned as belonging the Gloucestershire gentry in 1433 (Fuller's Worthies)

Thomas Sewale served as Master of the Tallow Chandlers Company in 1481 (Historical Manuscripts Commission 1966)

Thomas Sewell of the Carlisle diocese was a Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge and Rector of Leybourne, Kent 1510-27. (Alumni Cantabrigienses)

Robert Sewell (d.1520) was elected Mayor of Carlisle in 1503, 1513 and 1518 (Cumb. & West. Antiq. & Arch. Soc)

Hugh Sewell was a Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge 1532-37. After becoming an Augustinian monk he served as a prebendary of Carlise Cathedral 1549-85. (Alumni Cantabrigienses)

Henry Sewall (d.1628) earned his living as a linen draper and was nominated Mayor of Coventry in 1589 and 1606. He is the ancestor of the American Sewalls. (Water's Genealogy, Gleanings in England , Vol II, 1901). His son, Henry II (1576-1656) settled in Newbury and Rowley, New England.  Henry Sewall III (1614 -1700), grandson of the first Henry, emigrated to New England in 1634, was later minister at Baddesley (Warks) but returned to New England in 1659 (Gen. Reg. of the First Settlers of New England - J Farmer 1829/1989)

Samuel Sewall (1652-1730), the son of Henry Sewal III was chief justice of Massachusetts. In 1692 he served as Justice of the Peace at the trial of the witches of Salem. His descendants changed their name to Sewell. (DNB)

William Sewel (1654-1720) the Quaker historian was born and died in Amsterdam. He was the grandson of William Sewel of Kidderminster who moved to Holland to escape religious persecution. (DNB)

Robert Sewell held the office of Gentleman of the Bedchamber to Charles 1. His grant of arms in 1667 was the first recorded by the College of Heralds.  His father was John Sewell of Great Henny, Essex. (Morant's Hist & Antiq. of Essex)

Sir Thomas Sewell  (d.1784), a barrister, of Ottershaw Park, Surrey was MP for Harwich in 1758 and for Winchelsea in 1761. He served as Master of the Rolls 1764-84, was knighted (KB) and appointed privy councillor in 1764. (DNB & Burke's Visitations)

Jonathan Sewell (1766-1839) the chief justice of Lower Canada was born in Massachusetts. (DNB)

Sir John Sewell, LLD, Pembroke College Oxford, was a judge of HM Vice Admiralty Court of Malta. He was knighted (KB) in 1815. (Knights of England)

Major-General Robert Sewell (d.1835) was the grandson of Sir Thomas Sewell. He was a governor of the East India Company. (Sewells of the IOW)

General Sir William Henry Sewell (d.1862) was the brother of Robert Sewell (above). And was knighted (KCB) in 1861.  (Knight's of England, Sewells of the IOW)

William Sewell (1780-1853) was born in Essex of Quaker parents. He became President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1852 (DNB)

Mary Sewell (1797-1884), who married Isaac Sewell of Great Yarmouth in 1819, was a writer of poems and ballads and the mother of Anna Sewell. (DNB)

William Sewell DD (1804-1874) a founder Radley College. He was the second son of Thomas Sewell, solicitor, Newport IOW. After being elected a Fellow of Exeter College (1827-74) he became Whyte's Professor of Moral Philosophy 1852-62. (Sewell - A Forgotten Genius)

Henry Sewell (1807-1879), another son of Thomas Sewell, solicitor, Newport, IOW became the first premier of New Zealand in 1856.  (DNB & Sewells of the IOW)

James Edward Sewell, DD (1810-1903) a brother of William and Henry Sewell (above) became Warden of New College, Oxford 1860 and Vice-Chancellor 1874-78. (Sewells of the IOW)

Elizabeth Sewell (1815-1906) was an author of stories for girls and the third daughter of Thomas Sewell of Newport, IOW (Sewells of the IOW).

Anna Sewell (1820-1878), daughter of Mary Sewell, was born at Great Yarmouth into a Quaker family. She is best known as the author of Black Beauty (DNB).

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