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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


Sorrell is an ancient Norman name, that would have been used in Britain soon after the Conquest of the island in 1066. This name was given to 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.

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Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Sorrell, Sorel, Sorell, Sorril, Sorrill, Sorwell and others.

First found in Essex where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands at Waltham and Stebbings by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. Sorrell means "yellow."


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sorrell research. Another 196 words (14 lines of text) covering the year 1200 is included under the topic Early Sorrell History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Sorrell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Sorrell or a variant listed above:

Sorrell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • John Sorrell, who arrived in Virginia in 1635
  • Robert Sorrell, who landed in Virginia in 1635
  • Tho Sorrell, who arrived in Virginia in 1642
  • John Sorrell who settled in Virginia in 1647
  • Mary Sorrell, who landed in Maryland in 1648


Sorrell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Joseph Sorrell, who arrived in America in 1760-1763

Sorrell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Francis Sorrell, who landed in Savanna(h), Georgia in 1824
  • Stephen Sorrell, aged 25, landed in Mobile, Ala in 1832
  • Dr. Sorrell, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851

Sorrell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • George Sorrell arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Ramillies" in 1849
  • R. Sorrell arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "William Watson" in 1849
  • John Sorrell arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Slains Castle" in 1851
  • Anna Sorrell arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Slains Castle" in 1851
  • William Whittle Sorrell arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Slains Castle" in 1851


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  • Victor "Vic" Garland Sorrell (1901-1972), American Major League pitcher for the Detroit Tigers
  • Orville G. Sorrell, American politician, Mayor of Erlanger, Kentucky, 1976-81
  • J. R. Sorrell, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Texas, 1952
  • Frank Sorrell, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Nebraska, 1948; Candidate for Governor of Nebraska, 1948
  • Francis Sorrell, American politician, Member of California State Assembly 12th District, 1861-62
  • E. W. Sorrell, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Louisiana, 1912
  • Tony Sorrell (b. 1966), English former professional footballer
  • Nancy Sorrell (b. 1974), English model
  • Kevin James Sorrell (b. 1977), English rugby union footballer
  • Sir Martin Sorrell (b. 1945), English businessman, current chief executive officer of WPP Group

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  1. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  2. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  3. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. 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).
  5. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  6. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  7. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  10. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
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The Sorrell Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Sorrell 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 25 November 2015 at 09:53.

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