Sorell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient history of the name Sorell began soon after 1066 when the Norman Conquest of England occurred. It was a name given to a person with red hair, a ruddy complexion, or who dressed habitually in the color red. The name was originally derived from the Old Norse word sor, meaning chestnut, and referring to the reddish color of dry leaves.

"The young hind, from its early indefinite red, is known as 'Sorrell'; and Aubyn, in his ' Lives,' describes Butler, author of Hudibras, as having ' a head of sorrell haire.' " Hinds are, however, never called sorells ; this appellation properly belongs to the young fallow deer, who grows from a fawn into " a pretty, pleasing prickett," thence to a sorell, a sore, and finally becomes a buck. Nor are we, I trust, bound to draw the inference that Agnes Sorel's hair was red. [1]

Early Origins of the Sorell family

The surname Sorell was first found in Leicestershire. "Henry II. confirmed to Leicester Abbey by charter the churches of Thornton and Siresham, the gift of Thomas Sorrel; Simon Sorel witnesses a deed of Robert Blanchemains, Earl of Leicester, about 1180 ; and Lucas Sorell was a landowner in the time of John.This is the last mention I can find of them in that county. In Yorkshire Helias Sorel, for the health of himself and of Quinild his wife, gave some lands in Billingley to Monk Bretton. In Gloucestershire Robert Sorell witnessed Edward II.'s charter to Keinsham Priory (Mon. Angl.). Tebbald Sorell, of Norfolk, occurs about 1199 in the Curia Regis Rolls: and there is some subsequent mention of the family in that county during the reign of Henry III." [1]

William Sorell was listed in the Pipe Rolls for Suffolk in 1130, William Sorel was found in the Pipe Rolls for Norfolk in 1175 and ten years later as a Knight's Templar in Hertfordshire. [2]

Almost one hundred years later, the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included a listing for John Sorel, Oxfordshire. [3] Thomas Sorel, resident in the Liberty of the Bishop of Ely in Cambridgeshire, was summoned to serve against the Scots in 1322. [1]

Early History of the Sorell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sorell research. Another 239 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1257, 1626, 1650, 1728, 1650, 1738 and 1588 are included under the topic Early Sorell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sorell Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Sorell are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Sorell include Sorrell, Sorel, Sorell, Sorril, Sorrill, Sorwell and others.

Early Notables of the Sorell family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Sorell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Sorell migration to the United States +

Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Sorell, or a variant listed above:

Sorell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Rebecca Sorell, who landed in Virginia in 1716 [4]

Australia Sorell migration to Australia +

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

Sorell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Sorell, English convict from York, who was transported aboard the "Almorah" on April 1817, settling in New South Wales, Australia [5]

New Zealand Sorell 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:

Sorell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Edwin C. Sorell, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rob Roy" in 1865

Contemporary Notables of the name Sorell (post 1700) +

  • William Sorell (1775-1848), British soldier and the 3rd Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land (1818-1824)
  • Julian Sorell Huxley (1887-1975), English evolutionary biologist, humanist and internationalist awarded the Darwin Medal in 1956


  1. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  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. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Almorah voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1817 with 180 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/almorah/1817


Houseofnames.com on Facebook