AN AUSTRALIAN SEWELL REUNION
By Stan Gordon
This article was originally published in the December 2011 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
George Sewell arrived as a convict on board the convict ship the Somersetshire on 16 Oct 1814 and his wife Eleanor arrived 12 months later with their five children. We have been unable to discover Eleanorís maiden name or when or where they were married. On the 13th July 1815 Eleanor petitioned the Governor of the colony for George to be released to her custody so that the family would not be a burden on the new colony. This was granted and they were also given land Sutton Forest, in the southern highlands of NSW about two hoursí drive south of Sydney.
George was a blacksmith by trade and no doubt his services would have kept him pretty busy. Sarah, one of George and Eleanorís daughters died on 22nd December 1815. His other four children all married and had families.
Seventy of Georgeís descendants gathered in the Southern Highlands on the weekend of 5th November 2011 to try to unravel the mystery of the clan. Much research has been carried out, and it was pleasing to see so many new members of the family so excited when a snippet of information was gleaned from one of their line. On the Sunday morning we attended a service at All Saints church at Sutton Forest where many of the Sewell Family were married, christened and buried.
One photo that caused much controversy is thought to show Sarah, Emma, Anne and Esther Sewell. There is doubt as to the date of the photo; Esther was killed in a train accident in 1892 when she was 43 years old, her husband James McDonald then married her twin sister Anne. With this information (providing the girls are who we think they are) the picture must have been taken prior to 1892, but none of the girls look to be 40 years old. It has been suggested that the photo could be as late as 1910. If anyone can help with dating the photo please email me.
It is difficult to give the history of two hundred years in just a few lines, but we are in the process of writing a book on the family which we hope to release in 2014.
Photo thought to show Sarah, Emma, Anne and Ester Sewell