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Index button      Origin of Ewell Surname, and Variant Spellings research by Paul Jensen
Index button      Origin of Yeowell Surname, and Variant Spellings research by James Yeowell

Origin of Ewell Surname, and Variant Spellings

How many ways can "Ewell" by spelled phonetically? This is not just a trivia question. Genealogically speaking, it represents a mass of confusion. In a quest to find out where our Ewell's could be found in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and eventually America, a wide variety of spellings were found. As recently as 100 years ago, even educated people considered it acceptable to use phonetics to spell a proper name rather than using complicated grammar rules which varied depending upon geographical backgrounds and languages. People even spelled their own name differently in some cases. In fact, it was considered quite fashionable to spell their names in creative ways-even within the same document!

Information has come to us from time to time, in the form of family traditions, that the ancestry of at least some of the Ewells finds its origin in Wales. We decided to check for the Ewell name and its common variations in the IGI (International Genealogical Index) in the Salt Lake Family History Library. After searching over 50 Ewell name variations, we didn't find a single Ewell in Wales, so we were left wondering if some of your family traditions of Welch origins were mistaken.

James Hunter Ewell (the author of the "Ewell's in America and Some Allied Families 1635-1990") told us of his aunt who told him that the name Ewell in Wales is actually "Llewellyn." [Notice the Ewell name in the middle of "LLEWELLYN." The word is pronounced "Lou-Ellen"]. A more ancient variation of this name was "Lhlewellin". Whether this is true or not, we can't say for sure, but we pass it on to you for your enlightenment. However, we have found one other reference to the "Llewellyn" theory, in "The Road to Glory" by Samuel J. Martin:

Richard Stoddert Ewell was born on February 7, 1817, in Georgetown, D.C., the sixth of ten children of Dr. Thomas and Elizabeth Stoddert Ewell. Two boys and three girls preceded Richard; two sisters and two brothers followed. The family's roots were in Wales, amidst the fighting Llewellen clan, whose surname was abridged when Thomas, the first of the Ewells to emigrate to America, came to Maryland about 1640.

When the Ewells or Yuilles came to America from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales(?), you find these families spelling their names in a variety of different ways. Whether this is due to the immigration officers writing their names down on legal documents as they thought they should be spelled, or purposefully shortening a name for easier assimilation into the local environments, or whether the family just used their own phonetical guess at their name when they became educated enough to write, can't be determined. But what we can conclude, however, is that we cannot assume that the name "Ewell" will always be spelled the same. The name may be spelled Ewell on the birth record, Youell on the marriage record and Yuille on the death record, for the same individual.

When doing research, you need to check every possible spelling in order to insure that you have exhausted all potential leads for information. Careful research needs to be done in order to match up the proper names with the right individuals, not relying on the basis of spelling only. As soon as we have some more information on the origins of the Ewells in Great Britain, may be our task will be a little easier in keeping the names and families straight and some of the mysteries will be solved.

The name "Ewell", as well as many of its variations (Ewel, Aewell, etc.) is of English etymology, mostly from Surrey and Kent. From England, the name is traced by some to France, but by most scholars to a Saxon and possibly even a Norse origin.

On the other hand, the name of "Yule" with its variations of (Yool, Yuille, Zuil, etc.), is most commonly found in Scotland. I realize that there are exceptions, especially in America, where the names have been intertwined, but for the most part, this is the rule.

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.

Most of the Ewells in America can trace their heritage to Kent, England. Fewer from Surrey. Henry, who came to America and landed at Scituate, Massachussettes, sailed originally from Sandwich, Kent, England. This is located at the Northeastern Shores of Kent. Many of the Ewells in Virginia originated within a very few miles of Sandwich-in Herne Bay, Whitstable, Faversham, Canterbury, and other nearby towns. A little further south are the white cliffs of Dover, almost within walking distance of Ewell Manor, Ewell Minnis and Temple Ewell of great English historical significance. Where these people called Ewell, individually, originated from is a subject yet to be investigated.

We have made a list below of some of the "Ewell" variations we have run across in our research. They include, but are not limited to:

[HEWELL may also be another form of Ewell found in one source.]

Origin of Yowell Surname, and Variant Spellings

The name I have found spelled variously in Chertsey as Yeoole/Yoel/Yoell/Yowell/Youell/Yowel/Yoewell and Yeowell. The earliest of these spellings is Yoell in 1624, in Chertsey.

It is about the early to mid 17th century that the name starts to be spelt as Yeowell and by the mid to late 17th century the surname is spelt primarily as Yeowell, so this variant has been around quite some time.

The first Yeowell with our spelling (Yeowell), but as yet, not linked in to any known families, is Mawdelyn Yeowell, buried on 4 May 1574 at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London. This is all we know about her, except one other record found that could relate to her or a relative. This record is for a Christening made on 22 March 1571, for a Magdalena Ewell at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, but with no parents noted. Now, looking at the date and place christened, it could possibly be Mawdelyn Yeowell above, or possibly a daughter of hers. Particularly as they are both in St. Martin in the Fields, within 3 years of each other.

We have not yet determined the origination of the "Yewell" spelling. However, note the following:

An Elizabeth Ewell was christened on 29 September 1560, at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, but no parents are noted. A Rosamond Yewell christening has also been found in St. Martin in the Fields, on 5 September 1593.

I thought the following may be of use to you:

Early spelling derivations that could be linked

Before Chertsey the Yeowell family could have come from elsewhere, particularly in Surrey. A list of records found in other parishes, mainly in Surrey are below:

Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey


Agnes Ewell, 9 April 1542, to Wyllym and Annes Ewell.

Lettes Yoeylle, 1 June 1592, to William Yoeylle

Robert Uiall, 6 May 1651, to Robert Uiall

Hungerford, Berkshire

Humphrey or Humphrie Yewell (Yewle) married on 10 May 1572 in Hungerford, to a Jone Allen. They had 5 children from this marriage:

Anne Yewell (c. 5 July 1572)

Judeth Yewle (c. 29 September 1573)

Thomas Yewell (c. 1 February 1575)

Elizabeth Yewell (c. 28 January 1577)

Dorithe Yewell (c. 28 November 1579)

Willm (William) Yewell of Hungerford had 1 daughter by unknown wife:

Anne Yewell (c. 7 January 1587)

John Yewell of Hungerford had 5 children, by unknown wife:

John Yewell, (c. 18 November 1593)

Alixander Yewell (c. 3 February 1594)

Alixander Yewell (c. 2 May 1596)

Mary Yewell (c. 17 July 1597)

Jone Yewell (c. 29 November 1598)

Plus there is a marriage on 3 August 1640 of John Yewell to Mary Wynyatt also in Hungerford.

I have yet to find a link between Humphery, William and John yet, or found whether the John who married in 1640 is related to them. But William is probably a brother of Humphrey and maybe John as well.

Walton on the Hill, Surrey


Elizabeth Ewell, 29 January 1626, to John Ewell (no mother noted).

Elizabeth Ewell,1 January 1656, to William and Miriam Ewell


Anne Ewell and Marke Puplet, on 29 January 1642.

Banstead, Surrey


An (Ann) Ewell, 2 November 1599 (no father is noted)


Francis Ewell and Ann Richbell, on 26 January 1665

Hannah Youell and John Hughes, on 7 September 1696

Ewell, Surrey


Mary Yoel, 26 December 1750, to Jas. Yoel and Prudence

James Youel, 4 August 1751, to James Youel and Prudence

George Yoel, 30 June 1754, to James Yoel and Prudence


Ewell (female) and Redford Wrig on 15 July 1615

Windlesham, Surrey


Obediah Yeoell, 21 February 1775, to James Yeoell and Susannah


James Yoel and Susannah Over, 28 June 1774

Note: Obediah Yeoell married 15 October 1797, St. Bride, Fleet Street, London (as Obadiah Yeowell) to Mary King

The name "Yowell" can be traced back to Northamptonshire, England, through Ann Yowell who married Marquis Calmes Helm. Ann Yowell's ancestry has been traced back to a Thomas Yowell (Youell) born in 1618 in the Parish of Wilbarson, Northamptonshire, England. Thomas then immigrated to Maryland in 1634, and to Northumberland County, Virginia in 1650. Some of his descendants later were living in Culpepper County, Virginia.

According to a guestbook entry on our website, entered by Michelle Carpenter, we have another date, 20 May 1640, for the immigration of the Northamptonshire, England "Yowell" family. The following is the guestbook entry, of 13 May 2005:

"My husband's grandmother's paternal grandmother was Elizabeth Yowell At this point, I'm browsing the info. I have some shards of family tree to William Yowell. My husband's grandmother has done quite a bit of research on the Yowell's. She has provided some of the basic family tree info, however what I have in my possession she wrote in 1986. Obviously she has more info now. She found that the Filson Club in Louisville Kentucky has an extensive collection pertaining to the Yowells. I noted the "steamship disaster" She has written that the ancestor killed was William Yowell II who came to KY around 1796. It was rumored that his horse "Tinker" beat Andrew Jackson's horse in a race and that papers transferring the Hermitage were given to him. The best she could tell the disaster occurred 1818-1820. She indicated he left a wife and 6 children. She has also indicated that the Yowells came from Northamptonshire England May 20, 1640 and that her particular branch appeared to have been from Virginia."