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2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

My interest in Horswill Family History started in the mid 1980's. Horswill was my maiden name and, initially, I was only interested in my immediate family and had always assumed that we originated from Chester, although family rumour said that great grandfather had once worked in London.

After some investigation I was amazed to find that my great grandfather Charles Horswill, a tailor, was born in Devon and came to Chester after a short stay in London. I was intrigued as to why he came to Chester but even after all this time that still remains a mystery.

Trying to find further relatives, I started gathering all references to Horswill and related surnames in the Devon area and this quickly evolved into a One Name Study which I registered with the guild in 1988.

If you have found your way to this page then I assume you are interested in the Horswell or Horswill group of surnames. If you have any connection, however remote, with these surnames by birth or marriage then I would be very pleased to hear from you. Similarly, any information you might have about Horswell or Horswill family history will be gratefully received and should you need help with your Horswill Family Tree I will be more than happy to help. Please contact me via my email address below but do please try to be as specific as possible with questions. As I have a huge amount of data about these families it will help me with identifying individuals.

Variant names

Taking misspellings and illiteracy into account, I now have several variants of the main four surnames which still exist today. Horswell and Horswill have the most occurances with Horsewell and Horsewill being somewhat rarer. The name Horwell is a surname in its own right but occasionally the two surnames are interchangable.

Name origin

This is really unknown but I suspect that it it is locational as all early references are in Devon where there is a place named Horsewell.

Historical occurrences of the name

The first mention of the Horswell surname that I can find is in 1314 when William Horswill and John Horswyll were witnesses to land deeds at Brixton in Devon.

Many years later one JOHN HORSWELL became mayor of Plymouth in 1502/03 followed by his son James who served as mayor in 1528, 1535 and 1542. He was a respected merchant and town clerk.

Other than that there have been no 'celebrities' most having taken up trades such as cordwainers.

More recently, one Albert Edward Horswill was one of the few crew members who survived the ill fated Titanic.

Name frequency

The majority of early references to the surname are in Devon with a few families in the Padstow area of Cornwall but by l901 there appears to be only 2 members of the originally Cornish families still living in Cornwall.

Distribution of the name

We were obviously an adventurous family as the name has spread widely throught the world with large references in USA, America, Canada and Australia (including some who did not pay for their passage!) There are still families in the USA, Australia, Hawaii and New Zealand.


For the Horswell/Horswill family and variants I now have the following:-

  • All GRO births, marriages and deaths 1837 - 2001
  • Parish Register entries from the majority of Corwall and Devon to 1837
  • Details from all census records from 1841 to 1901
  • Various Overseas records including immigration details.
  • All IGI entries for the various Horswell/Horswill variants