Family Card - Person Sheet
Family Card - Person Sheet

Birth Datesay 1530
Will Date20 May 1591
Will PlaceAller, Somersetshire, England
Misc. Notes
According to Threlfall’s GMC50654: “JOHN SAWTELL of Aller, Somersetshire, is the earliest Sawtell that can be identified as an ancestor. He was probably born about 1525 to 1535, presumably at Aller. His wife was named Agnes. He also used the alias Dolman, as his will indicates. There is no known explanation for the use of this alias, which his children also used. Sometimes the use of an alias is an indication of an illegitimacy in the ancestry. It could hardly have been for purposes of hiding a true identity when used so openly.

“John Sawtell of Drayton, whose will was proved in 1549, was described as alias Dolman. He was certainly related to the above John and might have been his father. Drayton is a mere five miles from Aller.

“John Sawtell made his will 20 May 1591 and died shortly thereafter. An abstract follows.

“The name Sawtell seems to have originated in Somersetshire. The district they commonly inhabited was the triangle between Taunton, Somerton and Bridgewater. Here the name is found in ancient records back to the early 1500s. Richard, John and Robert Sawtell are listed in the Lay Subsidy Roll for 1524 in Curry Rivel, Somerset. Robert Sawtell of Langport Westover was Bailiff in 29 Henry VIII (1537).

“The Exchequer Lay Subsidy return for 1327 under Curry Rivel lists no persons named Sawtell. It does, however, list several Christian names followed by place identifications, such as atte wode, atte broke, and atte well. This was the beginning of such surnames as Atwood, Atbrook, and Atwell, which names, in most cases, evolved into Woods, Brooks, and Wells. Among these listings was a Thoma atte Hele, i.e. Thomas at Hele. Mr. Clement C. Sawtell of Lincoln, Massachusetts, suggested that this might be the origin of the Sawtell family; that sometime between 1327 and 1524, the spelling changed, first to Thomas Sattel and then to Thomas Sawtell, this being the origin of the Somerset surname of Sawtell. Hele was a hamlet or part of Cury Rivel, and is possibly the present Heale, where the first trace of the Somerset Sawtell family is found.

“[p. 352] The fact that the name is not found in England before 1500 seems to preclude a Norman origin unless it is a variation of Sortell. Humphrey de Sartillei, who lived in Boxgrove in 1180, is said to have come from the Canton of Sartilly in Normandy, and on settling in Sussex, became one of the four Elder Knights of the Honor of Arundel under Henry II. Some of his descendants changed the spelling to Sortell. The will of Adam de Sotel of London was proved in 1298. Robert de Sotel of Bedfordshire was Bailiff in 1273. The name Sautel appears amongst the French Huguenots in Ireland in the 1600s, and is found in France at an early date and even now. There are also definite Anglo-Saxon possibilities. Probably the name in its various forms has several origins.”

An abstract of John Sawtell’s will and an account of his children follows.
ChildrenJoan (~1560-)
 William (~1565-1637)
 John (1572-)
Last Modified 16 Oct 1998Created 1 Dec 2017 using Reunion for Macintosh
New England genealogy files of Robert J. O’Hara, automatically output by Reunion for Macintosh. For additional genealogical data in other formats, including specialized lists of immigrant ancestors and notable kin, please visit my main genealogy page: For information about many of the localities mentioned here please visit