By Ian Sewell
Part of Ian Sewell’s report for our April edition had to be held over till this one as it was so long for inclusion. The remainder is below.
Tanya Sewell got in touch with me to see if I could help in breaking down her brick wall regarding Edward Sewell and his father Thomas in the Chelmsford region. Brian Sewell, previous Research-Coordinator for the Essex Soles, had done a lot of research on this family and I also have a lot of records but unfortunately, I was not able to help Tanya to get back any further, though we cleared up a few questions in the process. It is strange that the Chelmsford parish register, which became the cathedral, seems to ‘lose’ its Sewells just about the time we are interested in. It could be that the family moved into the area at that time, or for some reason they were just not recorded. Neither possibility really satisfies me as there are plenty of Sewells in a neighbouring parish for 150 years or so and there was not much mobility at that time. Tanya is now hoping that DNA results will help her in finding where Thomas came from.
I was contacted by Debbie Barnes via our website. As an aside it seems that most of the contacts I have had come via the website so this just shows what a useful tool this is and a big shout out to Tim Sole for running it. She asked if we had any details on her family which, whilst she now lives in Essex, she knew came from Yorkshire and possibly came original from Essex. I was happy to report that her family indeed originated from Essex as she was part of my ESSgdnU family, and that Debbie was my 5th cousin once removed. Living now in Colchester just down from our ‘heartland’ of Chelmsford region she was eager to visit the graves of her ancestors and so I provided her with details of the family burials but did warn her that the chances of finding a grave was unlikely. I had in the past visited the graveyard of Little Dunmow where I knew over a hundred of my family were buried and was only able to find a recent grave. Speaking to the parish priest I found out that whilst the graves were marked on a map he had in his possession, the actual site was just clear ground. In addition, any wooden grave markers had not survived the test of time. Debbie was also able to provide me with some details of the Yorkshire branch that we did not have, and I was then able to show her where her branch fitted into the whole tree.
Marissa Heart contacted me through the web site inquiring about more details about Nesta Sewell who wrote a book A Year in Jamaica under the pen name Diana Lewes as she was related to Nesta via her father. Unfortunately, I could not help here much because the details she wanted are post to our 1920 cut-off date. For personal protection reasons we do not hold data of people after that date as a rule. Of course, if there is data freely available, such as GRO records, we can record them but in general our record stop at this date.
William Davison, who was involved in the Cato Street Conspiracy. He may have been the son of Robert Sewell Attorney General of Jamaica
Siegrid Tuttle contacted me to point out that in our article on the website about Robert Sewell (1751-1828), who was the Attorney General of Jamaica that we have neglected to mention his famous descendant William Davison who was born out of wedlock to a black Jamaican lady. He was educated in Scotland and after many ups and downs became involved in radical politics via the Spencean Philanthropists in London. Following the well-known Peterloo Massacre the group decided that they would kill a number of members of the Cabinet including Lord Castlereagh and Lord Sidmouth. However, the plot was infiltrated by the authorities, and all the members of the so call ‘Cato Street Conspiracy’ were arrested. William was convicted of High Treason and executed with four others.
I did some more research on William and his background, but I am not convinced that he was the son of Robert. All the records I can find seem to read the same, in that they all seem to be based on one source – though which one I am not sure. There is no definitive information on his parentage other than saying he ‘was the son of the Attorney General’ and only one web site states ‘probably Robert Sewell’. Clearly his family had money as a child otherwise he would not have been sent to Scotland to study law, but Robert did not acknowledge him. So, unless there is some evidence, perhaps in the Jamaican records, of his birth we cannot say for certain who is parents were.