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This report is one of a series examinig the occurence of the Newell, Noel and related surnames in the UK and is part of a search for the origins of my Newell (aka Noel) ancestors in the UK. My ancestors arrived in Newfoundland prior to 1780 and I have not been able to identify their origins; however, during this period Newfoundland was mainly settled by fishermen from ports in the southwest of the UK and the Channel Islands (see Map below).

Source: The English Migratory Fishery and Trade in the 17th Century

While Cornwall was one of the areas involved in the early Newfoundland fishery it was much less active than ports in Devon, Dorset and the Channel Islands.

Five counties made up the West Country: Dorset, Devonshire, Somerset, Hampshire, and Cornwall. Although the last two soon dropped out of direct involvement in the Newfoundland fishery

This report is divided into two sections, the first examines early (pre 1780) occurences of related surnames and the second uses DNA data to search for connections.

Analysis of Surnames.

The following Table shows the modern (2011) frequency of selected related surnames in England, Cornwall and surrounding counties.

Newall1:25K1: 78K1:26K1:42K1:37K1:23K
Data from Web Site

The data demonstrates that in both England and Cornwall the Knowles variant is the most common and that the frequency of the Newell name, the second most common, in Cornwall is not significantly different from that in England and neighbouring Devon. The Newall spelling is less common in Cornwall and is most common in the north of England. However, the most significant differences occur in the Noel, Nowell and Noall variants. The Noel surname was not reported in Cornwall but Nowell and especially Noall are much more common in Cornwall.

Due to migration and other factors the modern frequency of surnames does not necessarly reflect the situation in the past. The following two Tables show the number of people with each name in England, Cornwall and Devon in the 2011 Census and 1881 Census.

2011 Census, Data extracted from Web Site
1881 Census, Data extracted from Web Site

The data show that between 1881 and 2011 the number of people with all the names except Noall increased in England, reflecting the population growth over the 130 years. The rate of increas for Newell was greater than for Newall which might reflect greater out migration from the north where the Newall spelling is more common or people from the north adopting the Newell spelling when they moved south.

The 1881 data for Cornwall show that the Newell name was much less common in 1881. The higher frequeny in recent records may reflect individuals with the Newall surname (more common in north of England) adopting the Newell spelling which is more common in southern England. It also shows that the Noall spelling is overwelimgly connected to Cornwall (70% of national total in 1881 decreasing to 33% in 2011) with Lancashire having the second highest frequency. In fact most of these surnames are more common in the north of England.

Unfortunately, for determining the relative frequency of surnames in the distant past you need a comprensive snapshot survey of the population like a modern census. The earliest of these snapshots were the Muster Rolls compiled during the Tudor period that documented the able body adult men in each county that were available for defence (also documented the weapons they had). Another later snapshot was the Protestation Oath of 1641. During the spring of 1641 there were plots against both the King and Parliament. In May 1641 a Bill was introduced in the House of Commons imposing the signing of the following Protestation on all Englishmen of 18 years and above:

I, ___ do in the presence of Almighty God, promise, vow and protest to maintain and defend, as far as lawfully I may, with my Life, Power and Estate, the true reformed Protestant Religion, Expressed in the Doctrines of the Church of England, ….

These two data sources provide snapshots of surnames in use during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Newell, Newall and Newale Surnames

The Cornwall Muster Rolls of 1535 and 1569 did not record any individuals with the Newell surname but did have two Newalls and one Newale.

  • John Newale (1535), Parish of Antony / Anthony (near Plymouth Devon);
  • Ralph Newall (1535), Cardynham Parish (Cardinham);
  • John Newall (1569), Morval (Morvall).

All three of these locations are in the west of Cornwall near the border with Devon.

One Newell and four Newalls signed the Protestation Oath of 1641.

SurnameGiven NameParish
NewellMartineSt. Columb Minor

Luxulyan (see above) is in the west of Cornwall and lies four miles northeast of St. Austell and six miles south of Bodmin. Both of these locations have 16th Century connections to the Newall surname. There is one early (1509-1514) reference to a Robert Newall, Nowell or Neweall (see below) that had connections to St. Austell, Cornwall and areas further north in England.

Robert Nowell, Newall or Neweall, of Sent [Saint] Austell, Cornw. [Cornwall] , Ware, Herts [Hertfordshire], London, and Assheby de la Zouche [Ashby-de-la-Zouch] , Ntht. [Northampton]. (Henry VIII: Pardon Roll, Part 4 1509-1514).

Since this Pardon was issued early in Henry’s reign it may represent a Pardon for some trangression in his fathers reign.

There are a number of early Newall/ Newell reference in or near Bodmin:

  • a Ralph Newall is recorded in the 1535 Muster Roll for Cardinham (4 mi NE of Bodmin);
  • in 1559 a Raffe (Cornish for Ralph) Newall  was reported in the Bodmin parish registers;
  • in the Bodmin town charter granted in 1563 (5 Elizabeth) a Ralph Newall was made one of 24 Burgess of the town;
  • at Saint Winnow (6 mi SE from Bodmin and NE from Luxulyan) a Nicholas Newell was involved in a property dispute c 1558-1579.

St. Columb Minor, on the north coast towards the middle of Cornwall, was the home of Martine Newell in 1641. There was also a John Newall recorded here in the 1569 Muster Roll. In 1583 there was a John Newall cited in connection with documents related to the Manor of the Arundells of Lanheron [Lanherne] 3 mi NE of St. Columb Minor. The Arundells of Lanherne and Trerice were an important family in Cornwall during the 16th Century. Interestingly the Arundells were connected by marriage to the la Zouche family of Northamptonshire  (see earlier reference to a Robert Newall, Nowell or Neweall that had connections to St. Austell, Cornwall and Northampton). In the late 16th Century parish records for St. Columb Major (5 mi east) there are references to a John Nowell / Newell.

Paul, the location of three Newalls in the 1641 Protestation records, is in the extreme west of Cornwall just 8 miles from Lands End. Paul is on the outskirts of Mousehole and is in the civil parish of Penzance (two miles south of Penzance and one mile south of Newlyn). The civil parish of Paul, which lies west of the village and, since 1934, does not include the village of Paul. The ancient parish of Paul included Newlyn and Mousehole as well as the village of Paul and some of the historical references may relate to the Parish.

As I indicated earlier there were no Newalls or Newells recorded at Paul in the 16th Century Muster Rolls. The only N___ surnames recorded were Thomas Newlyn and Raffe Nyclis (? Nicholas) recorded in 1569. There were 8 other references to the Nyclis surname in the 1569 Cornish Muster Rolls and it might reflect the use of  patronymic surnames in Cornwall. In the 16th century second names in Cornwall could still be fluid, liable to change from father to son.

However, the fact that Newell and Newall surnames are not found in the 16th Century Muster Rolls for Paul does not mean that the names were not in use there during this period. In the early 1500s a Richard Newall along with Thomas Bosworthogga, John Nicoll, John Jaines, and Thomas
Benettowe were charged with forcible entry, damage, and seizure
of cattle at Carnlonga [now Carn a Longa near Paul] STAR CHAMBER PROCEEDINGS— HENRY VIII. The settlement of Carn a Langa is first recorded in 1540 when it was spelt “Carn longa”. This is almost certainly the Richard Newall of Mousehole involved in a court case in 1538-1544 (see below).

Richard Newall of Mousehole Yeoman vs Thomas Bosworthogga of Paul and Thomas Badcoke and others his kinsmen and servants. Messuage of land in Carn Longa, part of the inheritance of two sisters, from whome the said Newall and Bosworthogga are decended.

The parish records for Paul record an Agnes Cockes wife of Richard Newall who was buried in 1522. In 1530 a Richard Newell of Mousehole, fisherman was involved in a court case involving defamation. There is also a possible link between these Newells and and the branch of the Godolphin family settled at Trewarveneth (near Paul).

A younger branch of the Godolphins settled at Trewarveneth (fn. n15), in St. Paul’s, about the reign of Henry VIII., and became extinct in 1689. The heiress of this branch married the ancestor of John Godolphin Nicholls, Esq., now of Trewarveneth. Another younger branch of the Godolphins, the first of which married one of the coheiresses of Gaverigan, settled at Treveneage, in St. Hilary, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and became extinct after two descents. n15. Some pedigrees make the ancestor of this family marry the heiress of Newell or Nevill of Trewarveneth; others, the heiress of Cowling, of that place.

The following map shows the location for early (pre 1750) references to the Newell / Newall names in Cornwall. The Map suggest two clusters with one centered on Bodmin (the old County Town for Cornwall) and the second between Penzance and Paul in the southwest of Cornwall.

Earl Reeferences to Newell & Newall in Cornwall

The earliest reference I found was for the Newell surname in Cornwall was from 1338.

Source: C. S. Gilbert, An historical survey of the County of Cornwall : … v.2 pt.2. , published 1817-1820.

This reference list a R. Newell as representing Cornwall in the Parliament of 1338 (Year 12, Edward III). Bodmin, Cornwall is reference since at that time it was the County Town of Cornwall . A county town is the most important town or city in a county and is usually the location of administrative or judicial functions within a county and the place where the county’s members of Parliament are elected.

Other sources The Parochial and Family History of the Deanery of Trigg Minor (note: Bodmin is in this Deanery) by Sir John Maclean, 1873 and Return of the name of every member of the lower house of parliament list this individual as Roger Niel. This individual was appointed at a Parliament held at Northampton.

Later in the reign of Edward III a Johannes Newehalle was summoned to Parliament for Liskard Borough, Cornwall in 1350. Johannes Newehalle and R. Newell / Neil may or may not have been from Cornwall since it was not unusual for members from other areas to be appointed (parachuted) into Cornwall.

In 1553 Dr. Alexander Nowell (from Lancashire), Prebend of Westminster, was elected Member of Parliament for Loo [Looe], in Cornwall. The election was questioned in Parliament, since he was a cleric , and set aside.

In 1555 a ? Nowell was member for Saltash (see below).

source: Return of the name of every member of the lower house of parliament

S.T. Bindofft (1982) suggest that this ? Nowell was Robert Nowell the London Attorney who was originally from Lancashire and was the brother of Dr. Alexander Nowell (see above). In 1806, Alexander Nowell  born 1761 in Lancashire unsuccessfully stood for Parliament in the constituency of Liskeard, Cornwall.

Nowell, Noal, Noall, Noel Surnames

There were a much larger number of records from the 1535 and 1569 Muster Rolls and 1641 Protestation Oath for Cornwall that had the Nowell, Noal, Noall, etc. surnames versus Newell and Newall.

Noel Noell
Data from

Tracking the Parish baptismal records from 1600 to 1850 we see the spelling coalesced towards Noall and disappearence of most other spellings apart from a few Nowells. By the 19th century over half of the Noall baptisms in Cornwall were recorded in St. Ives.

The following Map shows the locations with pre 1750 references to the Nowell, Noell and related names. Unlike the Map for Newell and Newall names (see above) the Nowell and Noall references are clustered in the southwest of Cornwall.

Nowell, Noall etc historical records

The earliest Nowell, Noall, etc. reference is for a John Noell who was Reeve at Kenell manor in 1447/8 (File AR/2/894, Archives and Cornish Studies Service, National Archives, UK). This reference is filed under the Arundell family accounts. Reeve is an office held by a man of lower rank, appointed as manager of a manor and overseer of the peasants. The Arundells of Lanherne  appear to have settled in Cornwall, about the middle of the thirteenth century or possibly before that time (Wiki). Kenell [Kennall] Manor was near Stithians and was situated on a hill overlooking the river Kenel which reaches the sea a few miles further on at the firth of the Carrick Roads. On my Map I have situated Kenell approximately 2 mi SE of Gwennap, 2 mi E of Stithians and 4 mi NW of Falmouth.

My DNA Connections to Cornwall

When I started investigating distant DNA connections to the UK, I did not find any matches to Newell or Newall from Cornwall but I did find a number of Nowell, Noal, Noall and Noell matches. I had one Nowell match and several Noal / Noall matches. My sister also had Noal /Noall matches (same matches as me) while two 3rd cousins who share a common Newell ancestor had different matches to these names plus Noell. In total there were matches to nine different individuals.

Nowell 111
Noel / Noell11
Noal /Noall321
Distant DNA matches

The locations associated with these matches are plotted on the following Map (some locations have multible matches).

Map of Nowell, Noall DNA matches Cornwall

These few matches do not make a strong case for a connection and I get many more matches to other Newell / Nowell name variants in the North of England and Southern Scotland; however, this is one of the strongest signals for the Nowell and Noall variants. The analysis of DNA matches is made more difficult since several of my ancestors (Beauchamp aka Beecham and Dawe) have connections to Cornwall.


The analysis of DNA matches also demonstrated that I (and my sister and two Newell cousins) had numerous matches to surnames such as Jewell, Juel, and Juell from Cornwall and neighbouring parts of Devon. These names are only very loosely connected to Newell/Noel (Jewell is similar to Newell see Ancestry). The following is some background on the possible origins of these names:

Jewell is an English surname of French Breton or Celtic Cornish origin.  The root is the Old Breton Iudicael or the Celtic Judand hael, composed of elements meaning “lord” and “generous” or “bountiful.”  The name was borne by a 7th century saint, a king of Brittany who abdicated and then spent the last part of his life in a monastery.  As Jule, Jewel, Jewell, or even Jekyll, it was a name found mainly in Devon and Cornwall.   Judhael de Totnes from Brittany, a prominent supporter of William the Conqueror, was granted a large landholding in Devon after the invasion.  He may have been the origin of many of the Jewell names in that county.

“Helias and Robert Juels are mentioned in the Norman Exchequer Rolls of 1180-95. Galfrid, William, and Richard Juel or Joel occur in Huntingdonshire, about 1272. (Rot Hundred.) ‘This family derived probably from Juel or Judael de Mayennc, Baron of Totness and Barnstaple, temp. William I.: a Breton noble (see Maine}. He held lands from the Earl of Mortaine, besides his own barony; and a portion of the former, as well as a fief created in the Barony of Totness, seems to have passed to the younger branch names Fitz Juel. Warin Fitz Juel, in 1242, held a knight’s fee, which had been granted by the Earl of Mortaine at the Conquest (

The Cornwall Muster Roll of 1569 did not record any individuals with the Jewell surname (does occur in Devon and Dorset); however, the Cornwall muster Roll does record 30 Juells and five Jules.

Juel is similar to Juhl is a surname originating in Denmark.  Other spellings and connected names are thought to include Juul, Jul, Juhls, Juel, Juell, Iuel, and Yule. In American-English, “Juhl” is pronounced the same as the English word ‘jewel‘ or Jool. In Danish, “Juhl” is pronounced ‘yool’ or ‘yooh’ which is similar to the Scottish name Yule in sound and meaning since both names have links to Pagan and later Christian celebrations near the winter solstice. This origin of the name Yule is relevant since names like Noel and Nowell are derived from the Old French Nouel, from Noël, noel, nouel (natal, Christmas), which is from the Latin natalīs diēs (birthday of the Lord e.g. Christmas). 

I divided distant Ancestry DNA matches for myself, my sister and two cousins with common Newell ancestors into three groups linked to the names Noel, Yule and Juhl as follows:

  • Noel including Nowell, Canol, Knol, Knowles, Newell, Newall, etc.;
  • Yule including Yuill, Youell, Yell, Elwell, etc.;
  • Juhl including Jule, Jewell, etc..

I then mapped these three groups of matches (see below) with Noel names in red, Yule names in green and Juhl names in blue.

Map of DNA matches to Noel (red), Yule (green) and Juhl (blue) linked names

This map demonstrates that the Cornwall is dominated by the matches to the Juel and Jewell names (Juhl matches are found in Holstein region of Germany bordering Denmark). Zooming in on Cornwall and Northwest Devon (see below) we see that there are some Noel, Nowell matches interspersed among the Juel and Jewell matches.

Matches Cornwall and West Devon

I had investigated the Jewell name in the past since there was a Philip Jewell and a James Jewell (My earliest Newfoundland ancestor was Philip and his father was James) living in Lanivet, Cornwall in the late 1700s (see ).