Jewell Surname Genealogy

an English surname of French Breton or Celtic Cornish origin. The root is the Old Breton Iudicael
or the Celtic Jud and hael,composed
of elements meaning “lord” and “generous” or
“bountiful.” The name was borne by a 7th
saint, a king of Brittany who abdicated and then spent the last part of
life in a monastery.
As Jule, Jewel,
Jewell, or even Jekyll, it was a name found mainly in Devon and

Jewell Resources on

Jewell Ancestry

de Totnes

from Brittany, a prominent
supporter of William the Conqueror, was granted a large landholding in
after the invasion. He may have been the origin of many of the
Jewell names in
that county.

been mainly a name of Devon and Cornwall (which together accounted for
under half of the Jewells in the
1881 census
). Early reported
Jewells from these counties

  • The
    name Warinfilius (son of) Juelis, recorded in Devon
    in 1273.
  • John
    Jewel, a freelance English captain who fought in Brittany in the
    14th century. His troops were defeated
    by a Breton army under Bertrand du Guesclin in 1364.
  • another
    John Jewell, born in
    Buden (Devon) in 1522, who became a priest. He
    was persecuted by the Catholics because of his strong
    beliefs. He was mainly known from his writings on ecclesiastical
    subjects which
    were later collected and published as a book.
  • and
    George Jule or Jewell, who was
    born in Poughill in Cornwall, close by the Devon border, in 1567 and
    was the
    first of a Cornish Jewell family that has been traced.
    These Jewells moved to the Wendron area of
    Cornwall in the early 1700’s.

line from Clovelly in north Devon began with Jonathan Jewell, born
there around
1710. Clovelly church records contain
nineteen references to different members of this family over time. They tended to be either farmers or
seamen. Jonathan Jewell was drowned in
the great storm of 1821. A number of
Jewells emigrated to Australia and Canada in the mid-19th century. But there were still ten Jewell families left
in the village by the time of the 1871 census.

Archie Jewell, from nearby Bude in Cornwall, was a lookout on the Titanic on its fateful voyage in
1912. He was one of the few to
survive. Later he served aboard and
survived the sinking of the Britannic.

Jewell can be a Jewish name. A Jewish
family fled Poland at the time of
Napoleon’s invasion and ended up in Jersey in the Channel Islands. Some of these Jewells remained there, others
came to London. Joel Jewell, a furniture dealer in Paddington,
died in 1892 and
was buried in Balls Pond Jewish cemetery.

Thomas Jewell, origin unknown, came on the Planter at
the age of 27 to New England
in 1635. He was a miller but died in
Braintree at a relatively young age in 1654.
His wife Grissell was to marry a further four times before her
death in
1669 and two of her husbands provided financial support for her five
by Thomas. These Jewells later
established themselves at Marlboro in Middlesex county, Massachusetts. Their lineage was covered in Pliny Jewell’s 1860 book The
Jewell Register

This Pliny Jewell, born in
1797, was the founder in Hartford, Connecticut of the largest maker of
industrial leather belting in the world at the time.
His son Marshall Jewell was twice Governor of
Connecticut before making his name on the national stage, first as US
to Russia and then as US Postmaster General.
He looked the part. He was distinguished by his fine
“china” skin, grey eyes, and white eyebrows, and was popularly known
as the ‘Porcelain Man.’”

Another line from Thomas Jewell via his son Joshua led
to Eliphalet Jewell, an earlier settler in Oneida county, NY in 1814,
and after
whom the Jewell hamlet was

The Maryland Jewells started
with George Jewell who was born there in 1710.
A later George Jewell migrated to Virginia, Kentucky, and then
Missouri where he started the first Baptist church at Columbia in 1820. It was his son William – a church minister,
educator, physician, and surveyor – who was to leave his mark on the
serving as its mayor and later as a state legislator.
His legacy is the William Jewell
College. Inside the Jewell cemetery, his
tombstone reads: “His work is done, he did it well and faithfully.”

There were Jewells as well in New
Jersey. Moses Jewell was born in
Elizabethtown, New Jersey in the 1760’s.
He moved to Greene county, Pennsylvania and his descendants were
to be
found in Ohio, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Kansas.
Donavene Brian Liggett’s 1998 book A
Jewell Family History
covered this line. Another
Jewell line began with Thomas
, orphaned at a young age, who was born in Montgomery
Virginia in 1765.

The collapse of the mining industry
in Cornwall in the 19th century caused many Jewells to emigrate to

  • Thomas
    Jewell and his family from Crowen, for instance, departed Cornwall for
    Australia in 1852 and settled in Geelong, Victoria.
  • a
    few years later
    Jewell and his brother Edwin left their home in Clovelly, Devon to seek
    fortunes in the Victoria goldfields. Joseph
    survived the wreck of the General
    off the coast of New Zealand in 1866.
  • while John and Elizabeth Jewell
    left Cornwall for the Victorian goldfields on the Caduceus
    in 1869. John
    became a mine manager in Bendigo and prospered.

Jewell had emigrated to Western Australia from Devon in 1852 to seek a
climate for his frail wife. Trained as
an architect, he designed many of the public buildings put up in Perth
the latter half of the 19th century.

Jewell Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Jewell Names

de Totnes
an early landowner in
Devon, was probably the main source of the Jewell name in Devon.
John Jewell
, the Bishop of Salisbury
during Elizabethan times, was a prolific writer on ecclesiastical
Marshall Jewell
was a prominent US
politician of the late 19th century, serving twice as Governor of
and later serving as US Postmaster General.
Archie Jewell
was a lookout (and a survivor) on the Titanic
on its fateful voyage in 1912.

Select Jewells Today

  • 5,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Devon)
  • 8,000 in America (most numerous in Kentucky)
  • 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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