Sorrel History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Norman name Sorrel was originally used for a person who was 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 Sorrel family

The surname Sorrel 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 Sorrel family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sorrel 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 Sorrel History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sorrel Spelling Variations

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 Sorrell, Sorel, Sorell, Sorril, Sorrill, Sorwell and others.

Early Notables of the Sorrel family (pre 1700)

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


United States Sorrel migration to the United States +

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 Sorrel name or one of its variants:

Sorrel Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Robert Sorrel (l) settled in Virginia in 1653
  • Robert Sorrel, who arrived in Virginia in 1653 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Sorrel (post 1700) +

  • Gilbert Moxley Sorrel (1838-1901), American staff officer and Brigadier-General in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States


Suggested Readings for the name Sorrel +

  • Notes on the Family History of Sorelle Family of the South by Vivian Sorelle.

  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)


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