The Sewall Family Genealogy
"To be without a history is like being forgotten. My grandfather did not know the maiden name of either of his grandmothers. I thought that to be forgotten must be the worst fate of all."

Donald Hall from Message through Time - The Photographs of Emma Sewall by Abbie Sewall, Harpswell Press 1989.

There is a part of me that believes that we are the sum total of all those who have come before us. Put aside nature and nurture, put aside our DNA - there is something deep within each of us that whispers from the past. Ancestors calling. The whispers that subtly nudge me not to forget.

My parents came from the Sewall, Butler, Bullock and Webster lines. When I was young my parents showed me family trees and told me stories about ancestors who helped settle New England. Little of this had any impact until my parents died and I realized I had ignored and lost a connection to the past. So I set out to retrace my parents' heritage. As I went through the records I became fascinated by the diversity, from kings to criminals, from those like John Howland who influenced much of American history to the countless souls that disappeared quietly into time. Each one, great and small, had a story to tell and this site is dedicated to helping to ensure they are not completely forgotten.

Sewall Genealogy Tree and Index of Individuals

A copy of the gedcom file is on

A note on the accuracy of the genealogical records on this site.

This site is maintained by Bill Sewall (send me an email)


The following are some of the historically significant and intriguing people recorded on this web site.

Founders - The Founders of the Sewall Line in America:

William Sewall (1520 - ?) of Coventry, England. The earliest recorded member of the Sewall family. Descendents of William Sewall through 12 generations: Report

Henry Sewall (1544 - 1628) was Mayor of Coventry, England in 1589 and 1606. His brother, William, was Mayor of Coventry in 1624.

Henry Sewall (1614 - 1700), the great-grandson of William Sewall, was born in Manchester, England and first immigrated to the America's in 1634. He established himself in Newbury, Massachusetts and became the first ancestor of the Sewalls in America.

Mayflower - The following three individuals were passengers on the Mayflower. Howland and Billington are related through the Bullock line, while Chilton is related through the Sewall line.
Mayflower Howland
John Howland (1599 - 1673) traveled to America aboard the Mayflower as a servant to Governor John Carver. During the Mayflower's voyage, Howland fell overboard during a storm and was almost lost at sea. Luckily he grabbed a hold of a trailing line from the ship and was pulled back on board by the crew. Presidents George Bush and George W. Bush (see below) along with a veritable army of other notable persons are descendents of John Howland. Bullock descendents of John Howland: Report.
John Billington (1580 - 1630) Every family has its black sheep and mine is no exception. While Billington came to America on the Mayflower, he and several members of his family were the antithesis of model Pilgrims. After a series of calamities and conflicts, Billington shot and killed a member of the Colony, John Newcomen. He was tried by jury and hanged in September 1630 for the murder. Bullock descendents of John Billington: Report.
Mary Chilton (1607 - 1679) Mary's parents died on the Mayflower before reaching Plymouth leaving her an orphan at age thirteen. She may have been taken in by the Alden or Standish households. She married John Winslow, who came to America on the Fortune and was the brother of another Mayflower passenger, Edward Winslow. Thank you to Robert Sewell for this information. Sewall descendents of Mary Chilton: Report.
Sewalls - Some interesting people on the Sewall family side:
Samuel Sewall (1652 - 1730). Best known for his diary and his role as a presiding judge in the Salem Witch Trials. He later publicly expressed his remorse for his actions in the trial. Judge Sewall was also an early abolitionist.

William W. Sewall (1845 - ?) Bill Sewall first met Teddy Roosevelt in 1878 and acted as his guide in the woods of Maine. In 1884 Roosevelt induced Bill Sewall and another Maine woodsman, Wilmot Dow, to become foremen of his new ranch in the Dakota Territories. The three men experienced several adventures together including the arrest of a band of cattle thieves. The picture shows Wilmot Dow, Teddy Roosevelt and Bill Sewall. Some resources on Bill Sewall.

Emma D. (Crooker) Sewall (1836 - 1919) Noted 19th Century photographer.
Arthur Sewall (1835 - 1900) Shipbuilder and politician, Vice Presidential candidate with William Jennings Bryan, and husband of Emma Sewall.
Sumner Sewall
Sumner Sewall (1897 - 1965) Grandson of Arthur Sewall and Governor of the State of Maine (1941 - 1945)
Louisa May Alcott (1832 - 1888) American author known for her children's books, especially the classic Little Women. Intriguingly, she was tutored by the American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, another distant Sewall relative (a fifth cousin).
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882) American lecturer, poet, and essayist, the leading exponent of New England Transcendentalism.
Ellen Devereaux Sewall (1822 - 1892) is included on this list for saying "no" to the writer, Henry David Thoreau (pictured on left) and, regretfully, keeping him out of the family. Both Henry and his brother fell in love with Ellen Sewall. Two years later, Henry proposed marriage, but was rejected. Ellen figures prominently in several of Henry Thoreau's writings.
Oliver Wendel Holmes (1809 - 1894) American physician, poet, and humorist notable for his medical research and teaching, and as the author of the “Breakfast-Table” series of essays.
John Hancock (1737 - 1793) American Revolutionary leader and first signer of the US Declaration of Independence.
John Adams (1735 - 1826) US statesman and second president of the United States (1797--1801)
John Quincy Adams (1767 - 1848) Eldest son of President John Adams and sixth president of the United States (1825-29).
Jotham Sewall
Jotham Sewall (1760 - 1850) From my Father's writings - "A fervent Calvinist minister who traveled up and down the east coast and preached 12,867 sermons. He had a daughter who died when she was two and the inscription on her tombstone reads, 'She Hath Sinned Against the Lord.' Poor thing." Jotham was one of a long line of ministers in the Sewall family.
Bullocks - Some interesting people on the Bullock family side:
James A. Garfield (1831- 1881) Twenty-first President of the United States. Related through John Billington
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) Thirty-second President of the United States. Related through John Howland.
George Herbert Walker Bush (born June 12, 1924) the forty-first President of the United States and George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) the forty-third President of the United States. Related through John Howland.

Israel Bullock (1780 - 1814) his motto:

"The flow of riches thou desired
Life's real goods if well acquired
Unjustly let me never gain
Lest vengeance follow in their train."

Royalty: The following members of English royalty can be traced to the Sewall line through Mary Payne (1701 - 1731), the wife of Jonathan Sewall (1693 - 1731). Thank you to Robert Sewell for this information.
William the Conqueror
William I or William the Conqueror (1024 - 1087). William invaded England in 1066, leading an army of Normans to victory over the Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Hastings, and suppressed subsequent English revolts in what has become known as the Norman Conquest. Descendents of William the Conqueror: Report
Henry II
Henry II King of England (1133 - 1189) Henry was the first member of the House of Plantagenet to rule England and was the great-grandson of William the Conqueror.
King John
John Lackland aka "King John" (1166 - 1216) "This is the notorious King John who, under considerable pressure, granted the Magna Charta and then attempted to welsh on the deal. King John is perhaps best remembered as the arch enemy of the legendary outlaw Robin Hood. John was known as "Lackland" because he originally had only a few separate land holdings; but he ended up ruling the huge Angevin Empire when he became king following the death of his brother King Richard. John eventually lost many of his French possessions." Robert Sewell
  Robert Fitz Walter (? - 1235) In 1215, Robert was the leader of the Magna Charta Barons. When King John threatened to refute the Magna Charta in 1216, Robert Fitz Walter was one of the noblemen that invited Louis the Dauphin (son of King Philip II Augustus of France and later King Louis VIII "the Lion" of France 1223 - 1226) to invade England.
William Morgan Butler

William M. Butler (1861 - 1937) -- Republican member of Massachusetts state legislature, Chairman of Republican National Committee - 1925, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts - 1924-26.

Some Interesting Sewall/Sewell Family Links:
Sewall Tombstones The Sewall Family seems to have a penchant for interesting and sometimes disturbing inscriptions on their tombstones. Some examples.
Sewall Family Bibliography:
  • Graves, Eben W., The Descendants of Henry Sewall (1576-1656) of Manchester and Coventry, England, and Newbury and Rowley, Massachusetts, Boston: Newbury Street Press,2007/08
  • Hammatt, Abraham, Early Inhabitants of Ipswich, Mass., 1633-1700, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980, p. 329.
  • Savage, James, Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986, Vol. IV, p. 53.
  • Sherman, Jeanette Johnson, Johnson-Mitchell Ancestry with Allied Families, 1967, pp. 163-164. Book located in the Free Library, Belfast, ME and The Appleton Public Library, Appleton, ME.
  • Sinnett, Rev. Charles N., The Sewall Genealogy, Fertile, MN Webster, Henry Sewall, Thomas Sewall; Some of his Ancestors and All of his Descendants, Gardner, ME, 1904.
©Copyright William D. Sewall, 2008