Saturday, August 24, 2013

Surname Saturday: SEWALL of Newbury, Massachusetts

Samuel SEWALL was infamous for his role as judge in the strange episode of colonial history known as the Salem Witch Trials. His brother Stephen was also involved in the trials, serving as the clerk of court.

I'm descended from their sister Jane.


Samuel Sewall, c. 1729


Their father was Henry SEWALL, son of the mayor of Coventry. In 1635 he went to Massachusetts, where he married Jane DUMMER, and they returned to England in the 1640's. But in 1660, Oliver Cromwell's commonwealth ended with the restoration of the monarchy and the enthronement of Charles II, who was no friend of Puritans. The Sewalls decided to cross the pond again, this time for good, and they settled in Newbury, Massachusetts.

Samuel, who went to Harvard and was involved in local politics, was the only judge who presided over the Salem Witch Trials to publicly apologize. He was also one of the very first abolitionists, writing against the institution of slavery. His nephew Stephen (son of his brother Stephen) would also become a prominent judge, and his great-grandson Samuel would be a congressman.

They seem to have been a family of overachievers.

His sister, my 8th great-grandmother Jane, married Moses GERRISH and lived the rest of her life in Newbury.


Ancestral line:



Henry SEWALL (abt 1614-1700) m. Jane DUMMER

Jane SEWALL (1659-1717) m. Moses GERRISH

Jane GERRISH (1678-unknown) m. Samuel SWETT I

Samuel SWETT II (1706-1756) m. Elizabeth ADAMS

John SWETT (1731-1777) m. Sarah Unknown

Sarah SWETT (1772-unknown) m. Joshua PALMER I

Joshua PALMER II (1815-1864) m. Arvilla BAILEY

George Bailey PALMER (1850-1926) m. Mary Olivia PURINTON

Frank Bailey PALMER (1888-1958) m. Bessie Maud WINSLOW

Dorothy Elizabeth PALMER (1918-1984) m. Henry Richard HOWES

S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father (b. 1933)

Me (b. 1974)