Sowell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The history of the Sowell family name begins after the Norman Conquest of 1066. They lived in Derbyshire. Their name, however, is a reference to Subligny, Normandy, the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

Early Origins of the Sowell family

The surname Sowell was first found in Derbyshire where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. They were descended from a noble who accompanied King William whose home in Normandy was at Subligny near Avranche. Richard Subligny was Bishop of Avranches. They acquired considerable estates in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset by marriage with the Painells, but their main estates were at Newton Solney which later became Soley, and Sola.

" The men of Sole," according to Wace, were conspicuous at the battle of Hastings, " striking at close quarters, and holding their shields over their heads so as to receive the blows of the hatchet." The fief of Soules was held of the Honour of St. Lo at the time of the Conquest; but was soon afterwards granted to the chapter of Bayeux.Under Henry IL, there was a William de Soules who held three knights' fees in Normandy; two of them in the Comte of Mortaine[1]

The Kentish family of this name (of whom John de Soles bought Betshanger in 1347) derived it from the manor of Soles (Domesday) in the parish of Nonington. This family was in early times most powerful in Scotland, where it gave its name to the barony of Soulistoun - now Saltoun - in East Lothian. Ranulph de Soulis witnesses a Stirling charter of David I.: and either he, or one of his successors, is styled Pincerna Regis. They were frequent benefactors to Newbottle Abbey and other monasteries; and " their power," says Sir Walter Scott, "extended over the South and West Marches, where they appear to have possessed the whole district of Liddesdale, with five rich baronies in Roxburghshire.[1]

Early History of the Sowell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sowell research. Another 270 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1281, 1291, 1318, 1300, 1302, 1595 and 1679 are included under the topic Early Sowell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sowell 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 Sola, Soul, Soule, Sole, Sooley, Soole, Solley, Sollee, Soully, Sully, Soley, Solney and many more.

Early Notables of the Sowell family (pre 1700)

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

Sowell Ranking

In the United States, the name Sowell is the 2,825th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [2]

Ireland Migration of the Sowell family to Ireland

Some of the Sowell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Sowell 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 Sowell name or one of its variants:

Sowell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Sowell, who arrived in Maryland in 1664 [3]
Sowell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Anne Sowell, who landed in Virginia in 1704 [3]
Sowell Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Alfred Sowell, aged 31, who immigrated to the United States from London, in 1904
  • Alice Sowell, aged 1, who landed in America, in 1911
  • Sidney McFarland Sowell, aged 39, who immigrated to the United States, in 1911
  • Alf. Everett Sowell, aged 29, who landed in America from London, England, in 1913
  • Frances Sowell, aged 44, who immigrated to the United States, in 1913
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Sowell migration to Australia +

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

Sowell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Sowell, (b. 1818), aged 24 born in Truro, Cornwall, UK convicted in Devon on 17th January 1842, sentenced for 17 years for burglary, transported aboard the ship "Susan" in 1842 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Sowell (post 1700) +

  • Wayne Sowell, American politician
  • Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist, political commentator, and author
  • Mary Harper Sowell (1924-2005), American poet
  • Jerald Sowell (b. 1974), American NFL football player
  • Dawn Sowell (b. 1966), American sprinter
  • Bobby Sowell (b. 1947), American musician
  • Arnold "Arnie" Sowell (b. 1935), American gold medalist middle distance runner at the 1955 Pan American Games
  • J. L. Sowell, American politician, Delegate to Alabama convention to ratify 21st amendment from Walker County, 1933 [5]
  • Darlene Sowell, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Illinois, 2004 [5]
  • Chester L. III Sowell, American politician, Mayor of Dothan, Alabama, 2000 [5]
  • ... (Another 4 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  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. ^
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 23) . Retrieved from on Facebook