Sorwel History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Sorwel family name dates back to 1066 when the Norman Conquest of England introduced a plethora of new names and words into Britain. It comes from an early member of the family 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 Sorwel family

The surname Sorwel 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 Sorwel family

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

Sorwel Spelling Variations

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Sorrell, Sorel, Sorell, Sorril, Sorrill, Sorwell and others.

Early Notables of the Sorwel family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Sorwel family

Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Sorwel or a variant listed above: John Sorrell who settled in Virginia in 1647; Robert Sorrel(l) settled in Virginia in 1653; John Sorrill arrived in Barbados in 1660; and moved to North Carolina in 1674.



  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)


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