To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain perpetually a child. For what is the worth of a human life unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history? - Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106-43 B.C.
Perry Sewell, ca. 1917, France
Why This Effort?
The female carries the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) inherited from her mother. However, the male carries both his mother's mtDNA and his father's Y-DNA. Furthermore, there is a very high correlation between the Y-DNA and the surname in Western societies. For these reasons, Y-DNA testing can thus indicate 'relatedness'. Those engaged are delving into genetic genealogy or, as some have termed it, "anthrogenealogy", and are effectively on the forefront of genealogical research.
Genetics, as a discipline employed in such research, has its pluses and minuses. On the positive side, it can detect and confirm genetic relationships between individuals; on the negative side, it is not an exact science in that it deals primarily with probabilities and statistics and it is a realm not fully understood and trusted by the public--and not always unjustifiably so. At any rate, the assumption made by this website is that its benefits significantly outweigh its liabilities.
The Sewell name is one that comes from a hazy, far-back time in the history of surnames. It is very likely that this name derived at various places, at various times, and from various 'sources'. Its history is as rich as it is complex and convoluted--a genealogist's nightmare. For example, some of the possible sources are: place names (e. g., towns, villages, regions), former given names (that preceded the use of surnames), and even Old Norse names. The Sole Society in the UK has been researching the Sole, Saul, Sewell, and Solley names for years. Interestingly, the Sewell hame has derivatives that include Sewel, Seawell, Seywel, Seywell, Sewal, Sewale, Sewall, Sewelle, Sewill, Sawill, Sawell, Sowel, Sowell, Seuel, Seuell, Suel, Suels, Sewells, and Sewilles.
One advantage that genetics, especially Y-DNA testing, has is the ability to 'bridge' family trees. For example, if a conventional family tree exists in, say, England while another exists in Massachusetts and both are of the same line but this fact is unknown to the families, Y-DNA genetic testing can help bridge them. Obviously, gaps may and do occur, as in our example; however, if a male family member from the family in the UK is tested and a male member in the US branch is tested, then the possibility exists that, through database searches and comparisons, they will be able eventually to link or 'bridge' these two conventional paper family trees. It will not and cannot fill in all the blanks, so to speak, but it will greatly unify that family tree.
It must be pointed out that genetic genealogy is not a substitute or replacement for conventional genealogy. They compliment one another--or should. Genetics cannot give the personal, meaningful information that, say, an ancestor's diary entry reveals; it cannot provide the hard details of a birth or death certificate; and it cannot present the image of an ancestor like that of an old daguerreotype. But, it can tell us the basics of our ancient origins and, as previously noted, confirm our membership in a particular family line, albeit in a basically mathematical fashion.
It appears, at this point in time, that numerous Sewell, Sewall, Sowell, and Seawell families migrated from Europe over the past four hundred or more years. Their paths have taken them all over North America and far beyond. A fascinating puzzle sets before us and, hopefully, our work with Y-DNA testing--and with much assistance from conventional genealogy--will help us solve at least a few small portions of it.