SEWELL Co-ordinator’s Report December 2013

Diana Kennedy By Diana Kennedy

We welcome two new members, Carrie Ronning and Patrick Sewell to the Sole Society both researching the Sewell name.
Carrie Ronning lives in Las Vegas, her mother emigrated to the United States in the 1960s but Carrie still has family living in the Lowestoft, Suffolk area. Carrie’s grandmother was Peggy Sewell who was the granddaughter of Charles Harris and Charlotte Sewell. Charles Harris Sewell and Charlotte Whittle married in 1880 at Holy Trinity in Long Melford, Suffolk. Charles Harris Sewell like his father was an innkeeper and tailor but soon after he married Charlotte he took over as manager of a coconut matting factory, owned by his father in law, George Whittle. Two of Charles and Charlotte’s sons and a brother of Charles were also employed in the business. Originally a brickmaker, George Whittle went into the Cocoa Mat and Matting industry in the 1860’s. The industry had started in Long Melford around 1851 and George built a large factory in Hall Street. In 1871 they were employing 70 men, by 1881 this had risen to 150 employees. The coconuts arrived at Long Melford by rail, were unloaded and then transported by horse and cart to the factory where the fibres were woven into lengths of matting. The finished mats were then sent back to London for sale. During the 1880s a series of wage cuts in the industry caused widespread anger resulting in strike action. On Polling Day in December 1885 a riot broke out and considerable damage was caused throughout the village. Troops were summoned from Bury St Edmunds to restore order. From the train they marched into the village to read the Riot Act from the steps of the Police Station. The riot was soon quelled although the damage took longer to repair. The Cocoa Mat industry was still going into the early 20th century. (from
Patrick Sewell’s grandfather was Thomas Reginald Sewell. Patrick said his father has already traced the family back to the 1700s in Cumbria. Our records show Thomas Reginald a Civil Engineer was born in Ireland in 1885, the son of William Sewell and Elizabeth Janet nee Tait who was born in Scotland. One of their other sons was Major William Tait Sewell who was killed in 1916 in WW1 and was the subject of an article in Soul Search August 2011.
I had an enquiry from Anthony McQuiggan who was looking for background information on Peter Sewell of Great Baddow, Essex. The 1838 Tithe list for Great Baddow shows a brickfield, windmill and garden as belonging to Peter Sewell. Anthony now owns that land and is compiling a history of the area. Anthony said that originally there was a Smock Mill [Ed: ‘a windmill with sails and shaft carried by a cap rotating on an octagonal tower] on the land, built in 1827 but demolished in 1923. Our records show Peter Sewell was born in 1802 and was the son of Henry and Susannah. Several generations of Sewells were millers in the area, including both Henry and Peter his sons and grandsons.
Graham Smith is researching his Norfolk Sewells. John Sewell married Elizabeth Bailey in 1765 in Wymondham, Norfolk and their daughter Susannah married a John Smith, who were Graham’s 4x Great Grandparents. I have two possible families which I think may be one and the same as I believe that John and Elizabeth moved from Wymondham to Aswellthorpe, Norfolk after the birth of their first son. I am hoping that Graham will be able to find more with the aid of certificates.
I am always on the lookout for the Sewell name and recently was reading a biography of the social reformer Octavia Hill and came across a Miss Margaret Sewell. The two ladies knew each other through the charity work they carried out together. Naturally I had to do a bit more research. I was soon able to establish that Margaret was the second daughter of Philip Edward Sewell and therefore the niece of Anna Sewell the writer of Black Beauty. Although the family came from Norfolk, Margaret Amie was born in 1851 in Brighton, Sussex