The Huguenot Connection

The Huguenot Connection

Ebenezer Rowell’s first wife Marie Michell (1877-1942) passed on the information that her family had descended from the French Huguenots who had fled France in the protestant persecutions.

The surname Michel is on the list of qualified Huguenot names.

Interestingly Marie herself was actually born in Boulogne in France. Her father William Michell was a shipbroker’s clerk and he was probably working there.

The Michell family ancestors have been traced as part of the ‘Devon Mitchells’ project available at

If this is correct then Marie’s ancestry is as follows:

Marie was one 4 children of William Michell(1839-?) and Rebecca Edwards (1840-?).

William was one of the eight children of the clergyman Henry Chichely Michell (1804-1851) who was married to Eliza Cumberbatch (1809-1873). He was the vicar at church in Lymington

Following description taken from “Hatchments in Briton” vol 7
by Peter Summers and John Titterton
Dexter background black
Qly, 1st and 4th quarters are:-
Sable, a chevron or between three escallops argent (Michell)

2nd and 3rd , or a talbot’s head erased proper ( )
Crest: An arm in armour embowed proper holding a sword argent hilted or
Mantling: Gules and argent
Motto: Resurgam

Henry was one of the seven children of Eardley Wilmot Michell (1764-1834) Eardley was born in Brighton, Sussex.

Eardley was one of the fifteen children of the Rev Henry Michell

Rev. Henry Michell 1715 – 1789

Found in ‘Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century – Vol 4’

From 1789 Gentleman’s Magazine.
At the parsonage-house in Brighthelmstone, Sussex, in his 75th year, Rev. Henry Michell, M.A. vicar of Brighthelmstone with the rectory of Bletchington united and rector of Maresfield, in the same county.
He was instituted to the later in 1739 and to the former in 1744.
He was formerly fellow of Clare hall, Cambridge; and had resided at Brighthelmstone 38 years.
As a father, husband, friend, divine, and scholar, he had few equals.
Through the course of a long life he supported these characters in the uniform practice of every public and private virtue.
From the uncommon strength of his understanding, the excellence of his social qualities and his unrivaled superiarity in litery attainments, he seemed to be formed for a higher sphere than the parocial duties of a country town.
He was the intimate friend of Mr. Markland.
The only publications of which he acknowledged himself to have been the author were
1.“De Jure Colonias inter et Metropolin” 1777
2. “De Arte Medendi apnd Prisens Musicers ape atque Carminum; Epistola ad Antonium Reihan, M.D.;”
of which there appeared a second edition in 1783 printed by Mr. Nichols.
In these, the elegance of the language, and spirit of Attic urbanity, are very conspicuous.
The latter, especially, has been often admired by every true judge of clasical writing and exquisite irony.
He has left behind some MSS in Latin, but which he declined to publish from the apprehension that they were not sufficiently polished.
As he was the last descendant of a numerous family, which has long been settled in the county of Sussex, the greatest part of their estates centered in him.
He married the only daughter and heiress of the Rev. Francis Reade, of Bedford, by whom he had sixteen children, seven of whom have survived him.
At Barrowby, co. Lincoln, the rev. Wm. Clifton, M.A. vicar of Embleton, co North……….. rest missing

Following is on a plaque in the church.

Aulae Clarensis apud Cantabrigiam olim Socio,
Ecclesiae apud Maresfield plus 50 annos Rectori,
Apud Blatchington Rectori,
Et hujus Ecclesiae Vicario plus 45 annos,
Qui obit pridie Cal. Nov 1789,
Annum ageris 75;
Ingenio, literis, pretate praestantissimo;
Filiis etiam et Filiabus suis novem,
Immature abreptis
Hoc marmor armoris et desiderii ergo,
Conjux (cum qua vixit 42 annos)
Et liberi septem superstites

Google translation:

Clare Hall at Cambridge fellow;
Maresfield Church for more than 50 years, the rector
with Blatchington the rector
The Vicar of the Church more than 45 years
When he comes, the day before Cal. Nov 1789;
Each year drifting 75;
Talented and letters, dreams excellent;
Sons and daughters and their nine
immature abreptis
This milestone armoris desire, therefore,
Partner (in which he lived 42 years ago)
The seven surviving children

Henry was one of seven children of John Michell (1682-1735)

John Michell in 1713 owned c. 40 a. in Shipley described as a moiety of Withyham, (fn. 174) and in 1769 William Michell of Lewes conveyed Dummers otherwise Withyham, comprising 60 a., to Elizabeth Clear, (fn. 175) who was described in 1793 as lady of the manors of Scolliers and Dommiers. (fn. 176) Sir John Peachey, Bt., had an estate of 43 a. in the parish called Withyham in 1764, and his descendant John Peachey, Lord Selsey, owned Dummers farm (45 a.) in Shipley in 1815. (fn. 177) Thomas Killick owned Dummers farm c. 1847, (fn. 178) and Sir Merrik Burrell in 1910, when it had 48 a. (fn. 179)

The reputed manor of DURRANTS belonged in 1713 to John Michell the owner of Dummers, (fn. 180) whose son Thomas died in 1748. (fn. 181) The Revd. Henry Michell was dealing with Durrants in 1781. At his death in 1789 it passed to his son John Henry who sold it in 1796 to J. A. Clear. The latter sold it in 1818 to Philip Chasemore of Horsham. (fn. 182) He had died by 1835, when his widow Susan was owner; (fn. 183) she was dealing with the estate in 1850, (fn. 184) but another Philip Chasemore was described as owner c. 1847 when the estate comprised 124 a. (fn. 185) Durrants farm comprised 49 a. in 1895, (fn. 186) and 51 a. in 1910, when it belonged to Cdr. A. Lingham, R.N. (fn. 187) The later descent has not been traced

John was son of Thomas Michell (1644-1717) born in Shipley, Sussex

Thomas was son of John Michell (?1615-?) of Houghton, Sussex

John was son of John Michell (?1580-?)  of Harting, Sussex (near Petersfield)

Sable, a chevron between three escallop-shells argent, on the chevron a mullet for difference.
The mullet (or star) indicates a 3rd son

John’s mother is recorded as Joanne Delves born in Uckfield, Sussex

This would mean that the family were in Sussex at least from 1560. This would make them quite early Huguenot migrants.

The charter of Edward VI (1547-53) enabled the first FrenchThe Tympanum, French Church, Soho Square, London. Edward VI hands his Charter to the Refugees in 1550
Protestant church to be set up in England.


Escallop, or escallop shell, (fr. coquille). This is the badge of a pilgrim, also a symbol of the Apostle S.James the Great, who is generally drawn in the garb of a pilgrim. As it is found in ancient heraldry as early as Henry III.’s time, it was probably suggested by the eastern pilgrimages. It is borne in various ways, often surmounting an ordinary or other charge, especially a cross, chief, or bordure, &c. It is clear that the old French term coquille(from which we derive out modern cockle shell), is the same, though heralds pretend that when this is used the shell should have the edge upwards.

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