Show ContentsRowell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Of all the Anglo-Saxon names to come from Britain, Rowell is one of the most ancient. The name is a result of the original family having lived in Rothwell, a place-name found in the counties of Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, and the West Riding of Yorkshire. [1] The place-name Rothwell is derived from the Old English words roth, which means forest clearing, and wella, which means spring or stream. The place-name as a whole translates as "spring or stream in the summer clearing." [2] In the Domesday Book, [3] compiled in 1086, each of those places was originally listed as Rodewelle.

Early Origins of the Rowell family

The surname Rowell was first found in Lincolnshire where one of the first listings of the family was Robert de Rothewelle who was listed there in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273. Later in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls, Johanna de Rothewell and Johannes de Rothewell were listed. [1]

Early History of the Rowell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rowell research. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1563, 1627 and 1640 are included under the topic Early Rowell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rowell Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Rowell has been spelled many different ways, including Rothwell, Rathwell, Rosswell, Rosewell and others.

Early Notables of the Rowell family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Richard Rothwell, the exorcist, who was born at Bolton (now in Greater Manchester) in 1563. [4] He died in 1627 and was "known as "Bold Rothwell, the Apostle of the North," and famed as an exorcist, who professed to have wonderful contests...
Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Rowell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rowell Ranking

In the United States, the name Rowell is the 1,856th most popular surname with an estimated 17,409 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the Rowell family to Ireland

Some of the Rowell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 43 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Rowell migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Rowells to arrive in North America:

Rowell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Rowell, who arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1649 [6]
  • John Rowell, who arrived in Virginia in 1663 [6]
  • William Rowell, who landed in Maryland in 1666 [6]
Rowell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Edward Rowell, who landed in Virginia in 1727 [6]
Rowell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • A Rowell, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [6]
  • Joseph Rowell, who landed in Illinois in 1861 [6]

Australia Rowell migration to Australia +

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

Rowell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Rowell, English convict from Norfolk, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on July 3, 1822, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [7]
  • Ann Rowell, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "America" on December 30, 1830, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [8]
  • Mr. Robert Rowell, English convict who was convicted in Durham, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Elphinstone" on 20th January 1836, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [9]
  • Mr. Thomas Rowell, (b. 1805), aged 33 born in Bodmin, Cornwall, UK convicted in Cornwall on 16th October 1838, sentenced for life for housebreaking, transported aboard the ship "Layton" in 1839 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia [10]
  • Mr. Thomas Rowell, (b. 1805), aged 33, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 16th October 1838, sentenced for life for burglary and housebreaking at truro, transported aboard the ship "Layton" on 9th July 1839 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Rowell (post 1700) +

  • Lt. Colonel Milo Rowell (1903-1977), American lawyer and Army officer best known for his role in drafting the Constitution of Japan
  • John Samuel Rowell (1825-1907), American pioneer inventor and manufacturer of farm machinery from Wisconsin
  • Galen Rowell (1940-2002), noted American wilderness photographer and climber
  • George Augustus Rowell (1804-1892), English meteorologist, born at Oxford, son of George Rowell of Newcastle-on-Tyne
  • Jack Rowell (b. 1937), English Director of Rugby at Bath Rugby
  • Gary Rowell (b. 1957), English football commentator and former football player
  • Lieutenant-General Sir Sydney Fairbairn Rowell (1894-1975), Australian Chief of the General Staff from 1950 to 1954 [12]
  • Newton Rowell (1867-1941), Canadian lawyer, politician, and leading lay figure in the Methodist church
  • Daniel Rowell Neal, American politician, Member of Virginia State House of Delegates, 1856-60 [13]

HMS Royal Oak
  • Arthur William Rowell (1899-1939), British Able Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak (1939) when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [14]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Thomas Reuben Rowell, American 2nd Class passenger from New York, New York, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania (1915) and died in the sinking [15]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Frank Malcom Rowell, American Seaman Second Class from Texas, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [16]

  1. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. 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)
  7. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Arab voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 155 passengers. Retrieved from
  8. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 26) America voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1830 with 135 passengers. Retrieved from
  9. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th March 2022). Retrieved from
  10. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from
  11. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from
  12. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, August 30) Sydney Rowell. Retrieved from
  13. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 3) . Retrieved from
  14. Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from
  15. Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from
  16. Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from on Facebook