(member 1878)

Withell from Devon and Somerset

Withell family at Lympstone to be added.


Families with early variations of the surname Withell were living in the county of Sussex near Chichester on the South Coast from about 1560 but it was an uncommon surname. There were several baptisms at Slidon in the 1560's and a John Withall was baptised at Bosham in 1589. Although surviving records of this period are few it seems that the families remained in these areas throughout the 1600’s. The spelling varied but WITHELL was to develop as the more usual.

However by the early 1700’s two Withells were recorded as having acquired freehold properties – one was living at Heyshott in the Midhurst area and another was further east at Beeding along the coast near Shoreham. A number of marriages and the baptisms of children are recorded in the church registers, mostly using the spelling as WITHELL.

Connections to the early members of the family in the Heyshott area require further investigation but they were probably the ancestors of the families listed in the 1841 census. This census was taken on the night of 6th June 1841 and was the first modern listing of all families living in the parish of Heyshott. It indicates that there were three family groups living there at that time. However in each case the surname had been entered as WITHALL.

Link to Heyshott heyshott church Courtesy gravelroots website.

William and Jane Withall were living with ten children including son George aged 9, on a property named Haylestone. Richard Withall with his wife Charlotte and Charles Withall with his wife Maria were living nearby at Heyshott Green. William was the eldest of the three men.

It was George, a son of William Withall and Jane Pollard who was to revert the spelling of his surname to Withell.

When the next census was taken on 30 March 1851, young George had left home and was working as a farm labourer in West Wittering Sussex. The enumerator recorded his name as WITHELL. He moved to Durham and following his marriage he continued to use this spelling. As far as is currently known, there were no occurences of the Withell surname in the county of Durham prior to 1857.

George appears to be the only member of this Sussex group to have changed the spelling back to WITHELL and the known descendants of George and Jane Withell continue to use this spelling. The other family members retained the surname WITHALL, some staying in the Sussex area and others moving to London. I have been in contact with several descendants but have not done extensive research on these families.

Link to photos of Sunderland


There are descendants of George and Jane Withell still living in England. Some of the family emigrated to America and have settled in New Jersey. As far as is known, James Thomas Withell and Watson Withell were the only family members to emigrate to Australia. Watson married there in 1900 and settled on a farm at Dereel in Victoria.

If you would be interested in my small booklet featuring the Durham family, please contact me.

Return to top of page