Fowey parish church
Fowey Parish Church

The earliest parish register entry found for a Withell in East Cornwall is the marriage of John Withell to Jane Rashleigh in Fowey on 13 February 1570. Their children were Jane 1571/2, Elizabeth 1575, John 1578, Jane 1579, Annis 1580, John 1581 and Robert 1586.

John was also noted in the will of Robert Raishleigh 1577.

I give and bequeath to John Withiell my sonne-in-law one quarter of my barke called the Elizabeth with the ordinances tackle and apparell to the same belonging.

Although this John Wethiell owned considerable land in Polruan, Egloshayle Bodmin and Veryan, no definitive evidence has been found to link him with later Withells on either side of the peninsula. There were several Withell families living in Truro in the second half of the 17th century and a few isolated instances of Withell in other parishes in East Cornwall.

There were no further Withell entries found in the Fowey registers until the late 17th century when the children of Richard Withell, husbandman and his wife Elizabeth were baptised there. Following the death of Elizabeth, Richard moved to Luxulyan where he was buried on 20 Jan 1711. A William Withiell yeoman who was living with his wife Susanne in Luxulyan in 1720's may have been a son of Richard. Mary, Ric and Robert, children of William Withell yeoman and Susanne were baptised in the 1720's at Luxulyan. Following the death of Susanne, William married Hanna Coul. He died intestate in 1731, the estate being administered by Thomas Symons and William Rosevear during the minority of the children.

William and Susanne were the progenitors of the main East Cornwall line.

In 1748 Ric Withell married Tamsin Vivian, daughter of Henry Vivian, yeoman at St Blazey. There was a further link between the Vivian and Withell families with a marriage between Tamsin's brother Stephen and a Jane Withell. Marriage to a Vivian was advantageous because the Vivians were wealthy, and Ric and Tamsin and their children were to receive bequests from Henry Vivian and two of his sons. Ric and Tamsin settled in St Austell where they had 7 known children between 1749 and 1767.

Some of the family groups remained in St Austell but others moved away for work. In 1784 Stephen Vivyan Withell, one of the sons, was appointed as gamekeeper to the Prideaux family in Padstow. By the early 19th century other families had moved to Antony, Torpoint, Bodmin, Luxulyan and Falmouth. One descendant, Stephen Withiel and his wife Phillipa Knight, were still living in Luxulyan in 1851 and William John Wiethiel age 19 was living in Torpoint with his grandparents, George and Hannah Garrett.

There was also emigration to other countries - Stephen Withiel mason, great 4 grandson of William Wythiel moved to Capetown, South Africa in 1904 and a John Withiel moved to New York with his family.

Further research is needed to establish if there are currently any surviving male Withiels from this line.