The Art of SEWELL Hunting

By Brenda Ord

This article was published in the April 2018 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society

I wish that I found ‘Finding Sewells’ as easy as painting and of course I wish I’d asked more about them when I had my Sewells around.

All I knew was that they came from Norfolk and some of us had the ‘Sewell Nose’- famed for it’s largeness…and dare I say it, it’s Jewish look. I didn’t inherit the tendency but my oldest brother certainly did.

What sort of nose did William Sewell have I wonder? He arrived in Newcastle in the late 1880’s from Norfolk as a young man with a nose for making a good life in a busy industrial city. How different it must have been from his rural youth.

William my Great Grandfather was born in Wicklewood, Norfolk in 1868.

Wickleford Mill, Watercolour by Brenda Ord
Wickleford Mill, Watercolour by Brenda Ord

The family came from Ashwellthorpe , a village a few miles from Wymondham, the local town.

They moved to Wymondham , John & Honor Sewell and their numerous children, including William’s mother Sarah Ann. I think there was more scope for employment for the family there as the parent’s occupation of silk weaving was on the decline.

Perhaps William would have been born a man of Wymondham if Sarah Ann had married & had money enough to have him & successive babies outside the Workhouse, the nearest being Wicklewood. It is worth trying to find the records of these places if possible, as, having found Wicklewood’s I was relieved to find that her stay was only temporary though not the first nor by any means the last. So my William wasn’t a permanent inmate, just a too frequent visitor.

Wymondham Market Place. Water Colour by Brenda Ord
Wymondham Market Place. Water Colour by Brenda Ord

William’s Uncle John moved his family to Durham then settled in Newcastle where William joined him.

William married Isabella Jane Moffat (born Elliott) and they produce a large family. No glamorous holidays for them but I do know that they went to the seaside on day trips

My Nana had wonderful memories of them and I know William would have recognised Tynemouth Priory.

Tynemouth Skyline, Water Colour by Brenda Ord
Tynemouth Skyline, Water Colour by Brenda Ord

What is better after all than a day out at the seaside with your hard working parents and seeing them let their hair down…well if that’s possible while not taking your hats off.