Colwell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Colwell is one of the names that was brought to England in the wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Colwell family lived in Colton. There are places named Colton in Staffordshire and Norfolk. The family claim descent from Gilbert de Colleville, who lived in Coleville, a town in Normandy.

Early Origins of the Colwell family

The surname Colwell was first found in Suffolk, where they held a family seat from early times. They were descended from Gilbert de Colleville (Colavilla, Colvile) from Coleville, a town between Caen and Bayeux in Normandy. He accompanied Duke William from Normandy and had two sons. [1] From Gilbert and William the English Barons of Colleville are descended. William held lands in Yorkshire. His eldest son Phillip acquired the lands of Ancroft in Northumberland, and from him are descended the Lords of Colville in Scotland.

Searching other records, we found Thomas de Colevill who was listed as a witness to many documents in the late 1100s, as well as being mentioned in a perambulation of the marches of Elstaneshalche in 1181. A Thomas de Colouilla, who may or may not be the same man, was charged with treason in 1211. Ada de Coleuyll generously gave the lands of Kynnard in Fife to the monks of the Abbey of Neubotle in 1241 and Thomas de Coleville, who lived in Dumfriesshire rendered homage to King Edward I on his invasion of Scotland in 1296. Robert de Colvylle of Scotland was rewarded for extreme courage and steady obedience in 1358; he was granted an annuity of 20 marks from the customs of Kingston on Hulle. [2]

Richard de Collewele was listed in the Assize Rolls of Somerset in 1268 and Robert de Kolewell was listed in the Sudsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296. [3]

Early History of the Colwell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Colwell research. Another 101 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1174, 1296, 1358, 1337, 1394, 1377, 1384, 1385, 1390, 1393, 1540, 1605, 1551, 1629, 1604, 1675, 1662, 1675, 1690, 1813, 1898 and 1871 are included under the topic Early Colwell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Colwell Spelling Variations

Before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Sound was what guided spelling in the Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Colwell family name include Colville, Coleville, Colevile, Colwell, Colwill, Collwell, Collwill, Colewell, Colewill, Caulville, Caulwell and many more.

Early Notables of the Colwell family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir John Colville (c.1337-1394), of Newton, Cambridgeshire and Walsoken, Norfolk, Member of the Parliament for Cambridgeshire in 1377, 1384, 1385, 1390 and 1393; John Colville (c.1540-1605), a Scottish clergyman, judge, politician and author who was implicated in the Earl of Bothwell's attack on Holyrood Palace, and was outlawed with the earl, he died in exile in Paris; James Colville (1551-1629), 1st Lord Colville of Culross in 1604; William Colvill, (Colville) (died 1675), a Scottish clergyman and scholar and was the Principal of the University of Edinburgh (1662 to 1675); Daniel Colwall (died 1690)...
Another 112 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Colwell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Colwell family to Ireland

Some of the Colwell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Colwell migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious chaos of this era, thousands of English families began to migrate to the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. The passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe; however, those who made the voyage safely were encountered opportunities that were not available to them in their homeland. Many of the families that reached the New World at this time went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. Research into various historical records has revealed some of first members of the Colwell family to immigrate North America:

Colwell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Samuel Colwell, who settled in New England in 1678
Colwell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Peter Colwell, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746 [4]
  • Ufan Colwell, who settled in New York in 1751
  • Robert Colwell, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1768
Colwell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Patrick Colwell, aged 24, who arrived in Louisiana in 1812 [4]
  • Wiley Colwell, who arrived in Texas in 1835 [4]
  • William Colwell, who landed in Texas in 1835 [4]
  • R A Colwell, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [4]
  • Hamilton Colwell, aged 22, who landed in New York, NY in 1893 [4]

Canada Colwell migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Colwell Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. John Colwell U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1783 [5]
Colwell Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Henry Colwell, aged 21, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Salus" in 1833
  • Bridget Colwell, aged 24, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Salus" in 1833
  • Catherine Colwell, aged 26, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Salus" in 1833
  • Hannah Colwell, aged 22, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Perseus" in 1834

Australia Colwell migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Colwell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • George Colwell, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Stebonheath" in 1849 [6]
  • Richard Colwell, aged 24, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Chatham" [7]
  • Henry Colwell, aged 42, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Magdalena" [8]
  • James Colwell, aged 22, a bricklayer, who arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "Clara"

New Zealand Colwell migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Colwell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Colwell, aged 30, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • Ann Colwell, aged 27, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • James Colwell, aged 22, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ballochmyle" in 1874

Contemporary Notables of the name Colwell (post 1700) +

  • Ernest Cadman Colwell (1901-1974), American biblical scholar, textual critic and palaeographer
  • Guy Colwell (b. 1945), American surrealist painter
  • Robert P. "Bob" Colwell (b. 1954), American electrical engineer at Intel and is now Director of the Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) at DARPA
  • Rita R. Colwell (b. 1934), American environmental microbiologist and scientific administrator, 11th Director of the United States National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Jason Colwell (b. 1974), Irish former footballer
  • Keith Colwell, Canadian politician, Member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly representing the riding of Preston since 2003
  • Dave "Bucket" Colwell, British guitarist, former member of Bad Company, Samson and ASAP
  • Peter Colwell Bawden (1929-1991), Canadian businessman and former Member of Parliament (1972-1979)
  • Colwell Brickenden, English Master of Pembroke College, Oxford (1710–1714)

RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. William J. Colwell, English Trimmer from England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [9]


  1. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  3. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) STEBONHEATH 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Stebonheath.htm
  7. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CHATHAM 1852. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/chatham1852.shtml.
  8. ^ South Australian Register Friday 26th August 1853. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Magdalena 1853. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/magdalena1853.shtml
  9. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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