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From: Lloyd Rowsell <>
Subject: A Newfoundland Surname: ROSEWELL and Australian research....
Date: Mon, 31 May 2004 12:27:26 -0700 (PDT)

source: Colin ROSEWELL, an Australian born researcher.

Rosewell Origins
Origin of the name
Charles Bardsley in his 1901 book A Dictionary of English and
Welsh Surnames believes that the West-country Rosewells,
Ruswells, Rowsells, and Rousells are all mere variants of Russel
(v Rowsell). Russel is derived from Rousel, a common Anglo-Norman
French nickname for someone with red hair. We can add Rouswell,
Rowsewell and Rowswell to this list. Bardsley concludes that
Rowsell is the modern Somerset form.
The name Rosewall is completely separate and originates from a
ancient homestead called Rosewall on the Eastern slope of
Rosewall Hill in the parish of Towednock, Cornwall and was first
recorded in 1327.
The earliest recorded occurrences of Rosewell are listed by
Bardsley as:
1519 Adam Russell, or Ruswell, or Rosewell.
1580 Alex. Ruswell, Somerset.
1599 John Roswell, Somerset.
1606-7 Henry Rosewell, Devon.
Much of the variation in spelling of names is a result of clerks,
village priests etc. writing names as they sounded. For example,
there is no difference in the sound (especially in a
Devon/Somerset dialect) of the name Rowswell and Rosewell and
these, in turn, are little different from Rowsell because Row is
pronounced as in a row of trees.
The last Rosewell of the list and one other early occurrence of
the Rosewell name are of interest.
Sir Henry Rosewell (1590-1656). There was a William Rosewell
(Rouswell, Rousell) of Forde Abbey, Thorncombe, Devon (transferred
to Dorset in 1842) who was Solicitor General to Queen Elizabeth I
(Reigned: 1558-1603). Originally Forde Abbey had been given to a
Sir Richard Pollard by Henry VIII following the dissolution of the
Monasteries in 1539. The Abbey then came into the possession of
Sir Amias Pawlet who sold it to William Rosewell Esq.
Williams son Henry was born about 1590 and died in 1656. Henry
Rosewell married Mary Drake of Colyton, grand daughter of Admiral
Sir Bernard Drake, in 1615 but it appears that they had no
children. Henry Rosewell was knighted by James I (Reigned:
1603-1625) in 1618. Sir Henry became the Lord Lieutenant of Devon
and the High Sheriff of Devon. He was apparently a seafaring man
and one of the adventurers (founding investors) of the
Massachusetts Bay Company which was established to settle and
develop the New England area of North America. They received a
charter in 1628 and sailed in 1630. The Massachusetts Bay Company
took over the Dorchester Company established by Rev. John White
(1575-1648) rector of Holy Trinity and St. Peter's churches in
Dorchester, Dorset. Sir Henry did not seem to profit from this
venture as in his will he leaves only a lawsuit to his widow,
Dorothy, presumably his second wife. She in turn pursues this
through Chancery from 1663 to her death in 1676, when she leaves
100, the end product of the lawsuit, to William Rosewell a
nephew. Also Sir Henry was probably on the wrong side (Royalists)
during the Civil War of 1642.
Rev. Thomas Rosewell (1630-1691). Margot Girle, of Canberra,
Australia writes: My most notable forebear was the Rev. Thomas
Rosewell, born 1630 in Dunkerton, near Bath, in Somerset; died
1691 at Rotherhithe, in Surrey. His parents were Richard Rosewell
and Grace Milborne; Richard's parents were William Rosewell and
Cecilia Codrington; and William's father was Thomas Rosewell, also
of Dunkerton. Both the Rev. Thomas Rosewell and Thomas son, the
Rev. Samuel Rosewell, are written up in the "National Dictionary
of Biography", published in the UK. Thomas was tried for high
treason in Westminster Hall, London, in 1684, by "Hanging" Judge
Jeffreys, found guilty, sentenced to death, and two months later
pardoned by King Charles II (Reigned: 1649-1685). He was lucky,
for the King died a month later! Allowing 25 years for each
generation, this shows that these Rosewells lived in Dunkerton
(south of Bath) back to about 1555.
I have no evidence that these two families are related but they
could well be. What I am sure of is that we are not descended from
Our earliest definite ancestor is Richard Rowswell (1650-1696) of
Churchstanton, Devon (Churchstanton was transferred to Somerset in
1896). The surname changed to Rowsell and then Rosewell in about
1740 in Buckland St Mary, Somerset. Richard Rowswells ancestors
are probably Thomas Rowswell (1631-?) of Churchstanton; Alexander
Rowswell (1592-1665) of Clayhidon, Devon and Churchstanton; and
Thomas Rowswell (1565-1605) of Clayhidon. There is possibly a
connection between this Thomas and a number of Rowswells in the
Hillfarance (1548), West Buckland (1569) and Bradford-on-Tone
(1575) areas of west Somerset. This group may in turn be connected
to the Rowswell (Rowsell) families of Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset
who go back in the Parish Registers to at least 1559.
What we can claim is that we are the Rosewells of the Blackdown
Distribution of Rosewells
It is interesting to search the earliest indexed English Census to
see where the Rosewells were located. The 1851 census has been
indexed for the counties of Devon, Norfolk and Warwick only.
However, it shows 16 Rosewells, 1 Rowswell and 20 Rowsells living
in Devon. There are none in the other two counties. Of the 16
Rosewells, 3 are in Plymouth and came from London, 5 live in
Churchstanton and 8 in Luppitt (our ancestors).
The earliest available on-line census for the whole of England is
for 1881 and the next available is for 1901. The search results
are show in Table 1 which gives the place of birth (county/city)
for Rosewells that are listed in the 1881 and 1901 census.
In 1881 there were essentially three groups of Rosewells in

Group A in the area west of London along the River Thames with
occupations of fishermen, ship captains and watermen; Group B in
the Bristol/Bath area with a range of middle class occupations;
and Group C who are farmers and dairymen from the Blackdown Hills
area of Devon and Somerset.
In 1901 they had started to move around England but you can still
identify the three groups

Table 1. Location of Rosewells in 1881 and 1901
Groupings Counties 1881 1901
Group A Middlesex (Shepperton) 58 50
Surrey (Walton-on-Thames) 10
London 47
Hertfordshire 1 3
Essex 8
Devon (Axminster) 7
Group B Gloucestershire 24 18
Somerset 16 9
Bristol 20
Glamorgan 16
Group C Devon (ours) 17 26
Somerset (ours) 9
Unknown Manchester 3 5
Hampshire (Portsmouth) 1 10
Staffordshire 10

There is a family of Rosewells in Sydney (originally based on the
suburb of Artamon) who emigrated to Australia from Staines to the
west of London and are probably members of Group A.

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