Select Jewell Miscellany

Here are some Jewell stories and accounts over the years:

Judhael de Totnes

Judhael de Totnes from Brittany was a prominent supporter of William the Conqueror.  His recording in the Domesday Book suggests that Judhael took the title “de Totnes” when he was granted authority over this region in Devon.  After Baldwin the sheriff, Judhael was the largest landowner in Devon and Totnes was the seat of his power.

Notes in the Devon Domesday Book suggest that Judhael was expelled from Totnes in 1087 and that the barony was granted to another.  However, he secured the barony of Barnstaple sometime between 1095 and 1100.  As such, he witnessed a charter of Henry 1 in 1123.  But he was dead by 1130.  At that time his son Alfred appears as if he was paying relief on his father’s

Joseph Jewell and the Wreck of the General Grant

On May 6, 1866 the American clipper General Grant left Melbourne bound for England via Cape Horn.  On board were 83 passengers and crew, and a cargo of wool, hides, wood, and 2,500 ounces of gold. 

After ten days at sea the ship was wrecked on the west coast of the Auckland islands.  Thinking it unwise to abandon ship in darkness the captain waited until morning before launching the longboats.  By this time the swell was high with hazardous backwashes.  Only two partially loaded boats were able to clear the wreck and all but 13 men and one woman were lost.

There were no living inhabitants on the island and the survivors were there for 18 months before they were rescued by a passing whaler.  Two of these survivors were Joseph Harvey Jewell from Clovelly in Devon and his wife Mary Ann. 

The couple returned to Australia. 
Joseph wrote to his father Captain John Jewell back in Clovelly of his experience:  “Such a night of terror I think was never experienced by human beings.”  His wife Mary Ann was quite successful in her lecture tours, traveling round giving accounts of their shipwreck and survival.  She dressed up in her sealskin outfit to add impact to her

Jewells in the 1881 Census


Early Jewells in America

Pliny Jewell’s 1860 book The Jewell Register traced the descendants of Thomas Jewell who came to New England in 1635 and settled in Braintree.  The book had the following things to say about other early Jewells.

“Our lists contain over eighteen hundred Jewells and there may be as many more that we cannot trace to our progenitor.  George Jewell was at Saco in Maine in 1637 and Samuel at Boston in 1655.  They may have been brethren or kinsmen of Thomas. Nathaniel in Boston in 1694 and George sen. of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, were brothers, and probably related to the above.

We find some Jewells in Maine, some in New Hampshire (which descend from Mark), some along the Hudson river, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and in the South and West which have Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Harmonand Robert to their fathers.  Some are the children of Richard Jewell who came from Devon in 1774."

A Jewell Orphan in Virginia

The family story is that Thomas's father was killed as he returned from Norfolk where he had gone to collect some money from property there.  He was said to have stopped at the home of his brother John, who kept a tavern, and to have said that it was time he was getting home as he was paying for his dinner with the last of his money.  He was then shot and killed as he was nearly home.  The murderer was never discovered.  Thomas’s mother did not live much longer. 

The young Thomas was bound out when he was around 14 years old to John McFarling by a Loudoun county court order in 1779. 

Jewell in Upstate New York

Jewell is a hamlet on the north shore of Oneida Lake in Oneida county, New York.  At present it consists of a church, a cemetery, and year-round and summer residences.  In the past it was a thriving community with a store, hotel, mills, boat-building and lumber industries.

The first settler was said to have been Eliphalet Jewell from Connecticut, a soldier in the Revolutionary War, who owned land there in 1814 and soon installed a gristmill.  Eliphalet died in 1826.  Another Jewell, Silas a distant cousin, also lived there for a while.  The place was known as West Vienna until 1921 when the name was changed to Jewell in honor of the Jewell family.

Elmira Jewell, Pioneer Woman

In 1856 Harrison Jewell from New Hampshire married Elmira Sawyer in Iowa.  They had two children, Viola and Clarence.  Then in 1860 Harrison disappeared.  Family lore has him going West during the Gold Rush.  Or was there another reason?

Elmira became Granny Jewell to her family.  Both her children subsequently married, but both then died.  It was Granny Jewell who came to look after the various grandchildren.  She remained active into her nineties, quilting and crocheting many projects. 

At the Central City home of her granddaughter Julia in 1930, at the age of ninety six, Elmira’s long life came to an end.   Her five grandchildren and countless great and great-great grandchildren survived her.

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