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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Sowell family come from? What is the English Sowell family crest and coat of arms? When did the Sowell family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Sowell family history?

The history of the Sowell family name begins after the Norman Conquest of 1066. They lived in Derbyshire. Their name, however, is a reference to Subligny, Normandy, the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

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Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Sola, Soul, Soule, Sole, Sooley, Soole, Solley, Sollee, Soully, Sully, Soley, Solney and many more.

First found in Derbyshire where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. They were descended from a noble who accompanied King William whose home in Normandy was at Subligny near Avranche. Richard Subligny was Bishop of Avranches. They acquired considerable estates in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset by marriage with the Painells, but their main estates were at Newton Solney which later became Soley, and Sola.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sowell research. Another 188 words(13 lines of text) covering the years 1595 and 1679 are included under the topic Early Sowell History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 20 words(1 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sowell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Sowell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 92 words(7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Sowell name or one of its variants:

Sowell Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Thomas Sowell, who arrived in Maryland in 1664

Sowell Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Anne Sowell, who landed in Virginia in 1704

Sowell Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century


  • Alfred Sowell, aged 31, who emigrated to the United States from London, in 1904
  • Alice Sowell, aged 1, who landed in America, in 1911
  • Sidney McFarland Sowell, aged 39, who emigrated to the United States, in 1911
  • Alf. Everett Sowell, aged 29, who landed in America from London, England, in 1913
  • Frances Sowell, aged 44, who emigrated to the United States, in 1913


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  • Arnold "Arnie" Sowell (b. 1935), American gold medalist middle distance runner at the 1955 Pan American Games
  • Bobby Sowell (b. 1947), American musician
  • Dawn Sowell (b. 1966), American sprinter
  • Jerald Sowell (b. 1974), American NFL football player
  • Mary Harper Sowell (1924-2005), American poet
  • Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist, political commentator, and author
  • Wayne Sowell, American politician


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  1. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  2. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  3. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  4. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  5. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  6. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  7. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  8. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  9. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  10. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  11. ...

The Sowell Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Sowell Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 11 August 2014 at 13:34.

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