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'Ewell' Origin


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There are at least three general geographical locations that carry the name of "Ewell" in England.

  1. Ewell Parish in Surrey near London. (Consisting of: ancient ruins, a village, a church, a manor, and a well.)
  2. Ewell Parish, Kent, near Dover. (Consisting of Temple Ewell, Ewell Farm or Manor, the village, and the spring or well.)
  3. Ewell Minnis in Kent.

Ewell Parish, Surrey

A very short drive Southwest of London is a pretty little village known as Ewell parish. Historically, this was a very famous location. I quote from The History of Surrey, written in 1850 by Edward Wedlake Brayley in London:

"This parish borders on that of Maldon, on the north; on Cheam, on the east; on Bansted, on the south; and on Epsom, on the south-west. Its ancient name was AEtwelle, or Etwel, i.e. 'At Well', from its situation at the head of a small stream which runs to Kingston, where it enters the Thames. It is thus described in the Domesday book:--[The Domesday Book was written in 1087 A.D. and was a sort of census of land ownership ordered by William the Conqueror after his successful defeat of England at the Norman Conquest. William had confiscated most of the nobles lands because of their resistance.]
"The King holds Etwelle, in demesne [an old legal term meaning 'property held in the possession of royalty']. In the time of King Edward, it was assessed at 16 hides wanting 1 virgate; now at 13 1/2 hides, at firm. [A hide in Old English times was a unit of measurement, and generally one hide equaled about 120 acres. So this estate, which was owned by the King, originally consisted of about 1900 acres of usable land. The non-arable land was not usually counted. A virgate was apx. 30 acres.]
"The extent of the arable land is not specified. One carucate [about 180 acres], is in demesne [possession of the king]; and forty-eight villains, and four bordars, have 15 carucates. [In the feudal system, villains or villeins and bordars were serfs and land workers].
"There are two mills, at 10 shillings, and 14 acres of meadow; a wood yielding one hundred swine, and eleven swine for herbage. In the time of King Edward, the manor was valued at 20 pounds; subsequently, at 16 pounds; and now at the same, though it yields 25 pounds. --The men or jurors of the Hundred declare that 2 hides [apx. 120 acres each], and 1 virgate, [apx. 30 acres], which belonged to this manor in the time of King Edward, have been detached from it, the Bailiffs having appropriated the land to their friends; as they did likewise a tract of wood, and one croft. --To this manor pertains the church of Lered [Leatherhead], with40 acres of arable land, valued at 20 shillings, held by Osbern de Ow."

So in other words, the Ewell estate was originally owned by King Edward of England, and after the Norman Conquest, the land was confiscated by William the Conquer, who kept part of it and gave part of it away as the spoils of war. I will now continue quoting from The History of Surrey:

"The superiority of the manor of Ewell remained vested in the crown until the reign of Henry the Second, who, not long after his accession, gave lands here, valued at 43 shillings a year, to Jordan de Blossville. These lands were rated at half a knight's fee, and the owners paid aids and scutage accordingly, in the time of Henry the Third, and in the 7th and 15th of Edward the First; but no notice of these lands occurs subsequently to the date last mentioned."

The descent of ownership of the Manor of Ewell continues from one royal family to another for hundreds of years, carrying an intriguing history with it. Finally, much of the land came into the hands of the Church of England. Then we read:

"The parish of Ewell was enclosed in the year 1801. There were then reckoned to be 1 ,238 acres of old enclosure, 707 acres of common land, and 495 acres of waste land.
"A weekly market was held at Ewell in the middle of the 17th century; but the date of the charter granting that privilege is not known. Formerly, a small market-house stood at the intersection of the roads to London and Kingston; but it was pulled down for the purpose of widening the road. Near this site rises a strong spring of beautifully-clear water, which soon forms a stream of some consequence, called Hog's-mill river. It abounds with trout, and in its way to Kingston turns several mills.
"In the king's books, this vicarage, which is in the deanery of Ewell, is stated to be of the clear yearly value of 24lbs.; and is discharged of first-fruits and tenths. Manning says, 'the sum it formerly paid to the king, whenever an entire tenth was granted to him, was 16s.' The Registers commence in 1604; but are defective. Vicars of Ewell in and since the year 1800;
" John Lewes, LL.D., chaplain to the Lord chancellors Camden and Northinton. Instituted in 1777; died August 9th, 1802.
"James Maggs. Instituted on the 4th of October, 1802; died in September,1824.
A. H. Baillie. Inducted August 26th, 1827; resigned in July, 1831.
"Sir George Lewen Glyn, A.M. Inducted July l0th, 1831; on the presentation of his brother. He is chaplain to the Earl of Shaftesbury."

In doing research, I have found that the people named Ewell who came from this parish were given their name precisely because they were from that geographical location. For example, during the time of King John II in apx. 1243 A.D., there is a man named Henry of Ewell being taxed to help to "Knight the Black Prince" (the kings son had gotten into some trouble and they needed to raise some taxes to get him out.). This Henry of Ewell would then give his children a first name, and then in order to distinguish them from another "Henry" or "John" or "Edward", would add "of Ewell" to their name. Finally, the "of" was dropped, and the name "Ewell" would continue as a surname.

Much more work is needed to distinguish the Ewells of Surrey from the Ewells of Kent. I would doubt that there would be close family relationship between families of the two locations. In checking a fairly recent telephone book, I found that there were still two or three "Ewells" from that general area near Ewell, Surrey, England.

In another publication entitled, A Topographical Dictionary of England, written in 1845, [British Ref. Area 942 E5l, V2, 1845] , it states:

"EWELL (St. Mary), a parish, in the union of Epsom, partly in the First division of the hundred of Reigate, E. division, but chiefly in the First division of the hundred of Copthorne and Effingham, W. division, of the county of Surrey, 5 1/2 miles (N W. by N.) from Kingston; containing, with the liberty of Kingswood, 1867 inhabitants.

This place, in Domesday book written Et-wel, signifying "at the spring," was anciently of more importance than it is at present; and about halfway between it and Cheam was the splendid palace of Nonsuch, erected by Henry VIII., and taken down in the reign of Charles II. There are still some remains of that celebrated edifice, which, for costly magnificence and splendid decoration, was, as its name implied, unequaled by any building of the kind. On elevated ground, formerly within the ancient park, is an artificial mound about half an acre in extent, surrounded by a wall having circular bastions at the four angles, with intervening curtains, and in the centre of which stood the banqueting-house, a building about 25 feet square, and three stories high: the approach to the mound was by three double flights of steps, some of which are still visible. These remains are now within the pleasure-grounds of T. Calverley, Esq., who has erected a mansion in the ancient style of English architecture near their site, named Ewell Castle. The parish comprises 2391 acres 1 r. 19p. of arable and pasture, in nearly equal portions; the soil in some parts is chalk, gravel, and clay, alternated with sand; and the surface, though generally leve, is diversified with hills of moderate elevation. Brick earth of excellent quality is found in abundance. The village is situated on the high road to Dorking and Worthing, and is well paved, and amply supplied with water. There are some gunpowder and flour mills employing about 50 men, and set in motion by the Kingsmill, a stream which has its source in the parish, and falls into the Thames, at a place called Hog's mill, Kingston. The market, formerly held on Thursday, has long been discontinued; the fairs are on May l2th for cattle, and October29th, a very large mart for sheep, at which from 30,000 to 40,000 are frequently sold. The parish is within the jurisdiction of a court at Kingston, for the recovery of debts to any amount; and courts leet and baron are held at Michaelmas. The "living" is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at 8Lb; net income, 277Lb.; patron and impropriator, the Rev. Sir George Glyn, Bart.: the tithes were commuted for land and a money payment in 1801. The church is an ancient structure, and contains several brasses and handsome monuments, particularly one in the south side of the chancel, an altar-tomb of veined marble, on which is a beautiful sculptured figure, in white marble, of Sir William Lewen, Kent, in his robes as lord mayor of London. A district church, dedicated to St. Andrew, was built in the liberty of Kingswood, in 1836, by subscription, aided by a grant of 150Lb. from the Incorporated Society. In the grounds of the rectory-house, several fossils and coins have been found within the last few years. There is a place of worship for Independents. A national school, established in 1816, is partly supported by an endowment of 22Lb. per annum; and Mrs. Fendall bequeathed 1,000Lb., which purchased 1,758L. 19.6. stock, whereof the interest is applied to the benefit of the poor. Richard Corbet, D.D., Bishop of Norwich, an eminent divine and poet, was born in the parish.

Ewell Parish, Kent

The parish of EWELL (St. Mary and St. Peter) is located in the union of Dovor, hundred of Bewsborough, lathe of St. Augustine, E. division of Kent, 3 miles (N.W.) from Dovor. The population in 1845 was 392 inhabitants. When I visited the area in about 1979, people said the place hadn't change much in 100 years. An associate of mine at work is from England. When I told her my progeny was from Kent, she replied, "Oh, so you're from one of those rich families in that wealthy area of Kent, are you?" So I guess, the area has a good reputation.

In A Topographical Dictionary of England, (as previously quoted), page 192, it states:

"This place [Ewell Parish, Kent], was anciently styled Temple-Ewell, from its having been the property of the Knights Templars, who had a preceptory here, prior to the year 1185, the remains of which were destroyed about the middle of the last century , and there is some land near the site still called Temple Farm : King John, after the resignation of his kingdom to the Pope's legate, on his retiring from Dovor, spent some time at this monastery, and one of the documents relating to that transaction is dated from the Temple, at Ewell. The parish, which is beautifully situated in a valley between Barham Downs and the coast, comprises 1708 computed acres; the surface is varied with hills, and the soil, though chalky, is fertile; on the hills the soil is clayey, and about 200 acres are woodland. The river Idle, one of the chief tributaries of the Stour, has its rise within the parish. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at 16L. 13.4.; patrons and impropriators, the Heirs of the late John Angel, Esq.; net income, 70L: The church is a small ancient edifice, whereof the chancel is parted from the nave, and appropriated as a school for girls, which is supported by Miss Fector, of Kearnsney Abbey. On some of the hills are supposed to have been Roman entrenchments, from the discovery of arms, spurs, and helmets, that have been occasionally dug up there."

Temple Ewell, Kent

Temple Ewell is 3 miles Northwest of Dover, and lies at the head of the Dour Valley. It takes its name from the fact that it was a home of the Knights Templar. After their suppression, the Manor of Ewell was granted to the Knights Hospitallers, who fought in the crusades. Traditionally, it was either here or at Swingfield that King John laid the Crown of England before the Pope's emissary .This is a very famous historical event relating to the Church at Rome and England as a vassal to the Holy See. It would be very worth your while to study this occasion surrounding this event which was probably held at the Temple Ewell in the Parish of Ewell, Kent. I would venture to say, after significant research; most of the Ewells in America, can trace their lineage to Kent, England, and this general area.

The Church at Temple Ewell has a Norman doorway and window and a fine display of 17th century Swiss glass showing the story of Joseph and his brethren. There is a fine article about this stained glass in

Plan of the ruins of the round church on the Western Heights, overlooking the sea at Dover called the Templars' Church at Ewell Parish.
Templars' Church
The walls, which were constructed of Caen stone, had an average thickness of over 4 feet.
one of the volumes of Archaelogia Cantianan of Kent Archaeological Society at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

The foundations of this church were discovered at the beginning of the 20th century. Having been completely excavated, they are now carefully preserved and guarded by a fence. By the popular error which ascribes all such round churches to the Knights Templars, this ruined church has been called "The church of the Templars in which King John surrendered his crown to the Pope's Legate." On that day, May 13th, 1213 A.D., the king signed a charter of submission "Teste meipso apud Doveram." The king's surrender of his crown is thus narrated by Roger de Wendover, "Rebus, ut jam dictum est, expeditis convenerunt iterum, rex Anglorum et Pandulphus cum proceribus regni, apud domum militum Templi juxta Doveram, decimo quinto die Maii in vigilia scilicet Ascensionis ubi rex, juxta quod Romae fueat sententiautum, resignavit coronam suam, cum regnis Angliae et Hibemiae, in manus domini papai cusjus tunc vices gerebat Pandulphus memoratus." The records of the Templars show that their house near Dover was at Ewell. The king's surrender of his crown is thus dated "Teste meipso apud domum militum Templijuxta Doveram ...xv die Maii anno regni nostri decimo quarto" (Robert of Wendover, iii. 254.)

The fact is that such round churches were built in imitation of the church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, before the Order of Knights Templars was founded. Of four round Churches now existing in England, only one (the Temple Church in London) was built by the Templars. The Temple Ewell was already standing when it was donated to the Knights Templar.

Ewell Manor, Kent

Actually, both Ewell Parish in Surrey and Ewell Parish in Kent had a Ewell Manor attached to the property. However, the Ewell Manor, Kent, or Ewell Farm as it is sometimes known, has a much greater history. The Manor of Ewell near Dover, Kent, is believed to have received its name from a "spring" or "well" from that location. From the History of the County of Kent, (London, 1829), we read:

"When the survey of Domesday was taken, the bishop of Bayeux held the major portion of this parish, it being there entered under the general title, of lands belonging to that rapacious churchman. [In the Domesday Book is was known as Ewelle or Etwelle]. After the disgrace of Odo, all his possessions here were confiscated, [by William the Conqueror], containing the major part of this parish, as well as that of River adjoining. This parish was constituted the Superior Manor, afterwards named The Manor of Ewell, or Temple Ewell, which, under the Conqueror, was held by Hugh de Montfort, but, being escheated to the crown, on the exile of his grandson, Robert, in the time of William Rufus, it was granted to William, the king's brother, and William Peverelle, who bestowed the same in alms upon the Templars, as appears from the inquisition taken of their possessions in 1185; the above gift was subsequently increased in this and the neighboring parishes, by the donation of many others.
"On the dissolution of the order of the Knights Templars, A.D.1312, at a general council held at Vienna by Pope Clement V., that pontiff conferred their lands on the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, which was confirmed the ensuing year by Edward II. That Monarch, by the Act alluded to, granted all their possessions for godly uses, so that the Hospitallers remained masters of these estates until the general dissolution of their order by Henry VIII. The Knights Hospitallers being reinstated by letters patent, dated the 4th and 5th of Philip and Mary, many of their ancient possessions were restored to them by the crown; however, it does not appear that this community was ever actually reestablished, and, on the accession of Elizabeth, two years after, it was finally abolished.
This Manor, with the advowson and appropriation of the vicarage, was, in the 5th of Edward VI, granted to Edward Lord Clinton, and Saye, lord high admiral, to hold in capite: who, shortly after, reconveyed the same to the crown, when the above monarch conferred them on Sir William Cavendish; who, the same year, alienated them to Sir Richard Sachville; who, at the commencement of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, passed them to Winifred, marchioness of Winchester. That peeress, in the 24th of the above queen's reign, sold them to Thomas Digge and William Boys; by whom they were very soon passed to John Daniell, whose two daughters conveyed them in marriage to John Mabb and William Wiseman; who, at the close of that reign, sold the same to Mr. Robert Bromley, mercer, of London. The latter, in the early part of the reign of James I., conveyed them to William Angell, of London; in whose descendants they continued down to John Angell, esq. of Stockwell, Middlesex; who, in 1784, devised them to Mr. Benedict Brown, his next heir general. By the last-mentioned possessor the manor of Ewell, with the rectory impropriate, and advowson of the vicarage, were transferred to William Osborne, esq. of London, M.D., who took up his residence at Old Parkplace, which he caused to be enlarged and beautified for that purpose. A court-leet and court-baron is held for this manor."
"Ewell manor is situated at the eastern extremity of the parish, next to Goodneston, and was, in the reign of Richard II., in the possession of the family of the Boteler's, of the adjoining parish of Graveney; in which name it remained, till Anne, daughter and heir of John Boteler, esq. conveyed it in marriage to John Martyn, one of the judges of the Common Pleas...."

I could go on, but it would only serve to bore the reader. If you want a copy of any of the research materials in our possession, please contact VaLene. As you can clearly see, most of the people bearing the name of "Ewell" can trace their name back to a geographical location, either in Surrey or in Kent, and the etymology of that name is generally considered "A well or a spring." Following is an article describing the spring from which the Ewell name in Kent may derive:

"The River Dour takes its rise in the valley at the western boundary of the parish, and a little below, Casney court takes in another stream of it, which rises about two miles higher to the south, at the hamlet of Derlingore, in Alkham. This stream runs by the church, and then flows on from hence eastward into the sea at Dover: a part of this stream, which is a kind of nailbourne, rises from some springs in a meadow at Derlingore, which in very wet and windy weather, increases to the height of eight or ten feet, and runs through the lands to the head of the river Dour, at Childton, commonly beginning in March or April, at which time the wells of about fifteen feet in depth, are full. [History, Gazetteer, and Directory of the County of Kent, pg. 371.]


The manor of Lydden was granted with the rectory to the Archbishop of Canterbury, by Henry VIII. Cocklescomb, Swanton, and Perryn, are ancient manors in the parish. Ewell Minnis is a hamlet one mile S. W. from the church.

"The master and fellows of Emanuel College are possessed of lands in this parish and Ewell, which were given by Walter Richards, in 1627, towards the maintenance of two exhibitions, to be chosen out of the sizers and sub-sizers of that College; the produce of them is now applied to purpose.
"Thomas Fisher, by will, 1593, devised to the poor of this parish 6s. 8d. to be paid yearly at the feast of St. Thomas, and distributed by the churchwardens to the most neccessitous poor." [History, Gazetteer, and Directory of the County of Kent, Vol. 2, by Samuel Bagshaw, pg. 374.]