Jewell or Jewel Family History and Genealogy

Thomas Jewell of Montgomery County Virginia

The earliest known Jewell ancestor was Thomas Jewel. All we know from documentation of Thomas' early life is that he was bound out 9 Aug 1779 when he was about 14 years old to one John McFarling by Loudoun County, VA, court order. We have no record of his antecedents. Family tradition is that his father was murdered by a would-be robber (more later).

Jewel (or Jewell) is an English name. Georgius Jewell, who died 6 June 1775, is buried in England's Westminster Abbey. In Virginia, a Robert Jewell is mentioned in connection with a land transaction in the county of New Norfolk in 1637, just 30 years after the Jamestown settlement. A John Jewell is mentioned in an inventory in 1668 in Northhampton County. A John Jewell is mentioned in a court case in Westmoreland County in 1703.

The strongest indication of a possible connection with Thomas is the will of a Mary Jewell in Essex County in 1704 in which she names her children, Thomas, William, and Mary. Presumably it is this Thomas Jewell who is named in the quit rolls of Essex County in 1704, and also this Thomas who patented 149 acres in Essex in 1713. In 1715 a Thomas Jewell sold 149 acres in Essex. A William Jewell is included in the tithables in Westmoreland County in 1776. This could conceivably have been Thomas's father if he moved to Loudoun by 1779. Lucinda Jewel, a granddaughter of Thomas, thought his father's name was William.

Other early mentions of the Jewel name in Virginia: A Catherine Jewell married Richard Lewis in 1786 in Botetourt County, the same county in which Thomas married Elizabeth Graham in 1796. A James Jewell married Molly Ringmaiden in 1792 in Westmoreland County. A William Jewel married a Sarah Devore in 1792 in Frederick County. A William Jewell married a Ruth Rea in 1796 in Frederick County. A Mary Jewell married a Samuel Bailey in 1799 in Augusta County. There are a number of early recordings of the Jewell name in Loudoun County, among them a Moses Jewell in 1762, an Elisha Jewell and a Jonathan Jewell in 1784 and 1788, an Elisha, a George, and a Jonathan Jewell in 1789, and an Alexander Jewell in 1795. When some of the family dropped the second letter L is not known.

There were early Jewells in New England, some of them becoming quite prominent, and there were Jewells in New Jersey and North Carolina. But Eastern Virginia would seem the more likely origin area of Thomas' immediate forbears.

There is a court record of Thomas' marriage to Elizabeth Graham in Botetourt County 18 May 1796. Subsequent to his marriage we have quite a bit of documentation on Thomas, including the names and spouses of his children, census records, land transactions, and his probate record. Prior to the record of his marriage we have only the 1779 Loudoun court record," ... ordered that the church warden of Shelbourne Parish bind John Philips, Thomas Jewell, and Winfred Jewell to John McFarling according to law. " On 25 Sept.1780, a Martha Jewell of the same parish agreed to the binding out of her son, Zachariah, who was to be four years old in August 1782. Possibly this Martha was also Thomas' mother. Although this was during the Revolution, the court still depended on the Episcopal Church to handle these matters as it had traditionally done in Colonial times. Loudoun is one of Virginia's most northern counties and is today just commuting distance northwest of Washington DC.

In addition to this sparse documentation, there is considerable family tradition about how Thomas was orphaned. But let an experienced genealogist, Iva Jewel Geary, Thomas' great granddaughter and the author's mother, relate this tradition:

"The family story is that Thomas' father was killed as he returned from Norfolk where he had gone to collect money from property there. He was shot and killed as he was nearly home but the murderer was never known. The mother did not live much longer. Thomas's father 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.

"There were several children; at least three boys and I am sure there was one girl. I went to Leesburg twice to search for information but found only that Thomas and Winfred Jewel had been bound to John McFarlene (sic). Winfred is a masculine name (as spelled) but I am sure this Winfred was Winifred, a sister of Thomas, for the reason that he named one of his daughters Winnie. The notation in Loudoun County records was dated 1779 and this was during the Revolutionary War. Life must have been generally very unsafe. This ancestor was too young to have been a soldier in that war. We do not know for certain what the name of Thomas' father was, but of course Thomas himself knew and others of the older generation. My generation simply did not ask until the older ones were gone. I did ask Aunt Lucy and she said 'I think it was William,' and as that was the name given Thomas's oldest son, I feel sure she was right.

"There was a small hair-covered, brass studded trunk in our attic, my grandfather's trunk, which contained nothing but papers. These were all destroyed in the fire of 1893. How I have mourned that loss."

Iva described her impression of Thomas, based on what she had been told, as follows: " My father was five when his Jewel grandfather died, but he did not remember him very clearly. He [Thomas] was unorthodox in his religious beliefs, was a 'Universalist,' and a light-hearted and well liked man. At one time he had a tavern on what is now the Barger farm near Shawsville, but in a much earlier, simple building. [The farm is now traversed by a rerouted U.S.Route 11.] My father told me when passing that this tavern was the first painted house in the county and was called 'the white house.' My great grandfather's real home was several miles distant and he was not the owner of the Barger farm, which was on the main road then."

Iva at one time remarked to the author that any intellectual brains in the family came from Thomas, whom she described as "an egghead."

Of Thomas' wife, Elizabeth, we know only that her mother was named Sarah and that a vague family tradition was that her father was named James. Records indicate that Sarah, subsequent to James death, married twice, to someone named Cox, and to a John Furrow. A Franklin county record of 1788 has Furrow, perhaps as the result of a sort of pre-nuptial agreement, deeding to Sarah's children the land she had inherited, presumably from Graham. Under Virginia law at that time, a widow's property accrued to her new husband. The deed names Elizabeth and all of her siblings. The 1850 census lists Elizabeth with Thomas in Montgomery County. The 1860 census lists her, at age 75, living at Shawsville in Montgomery County.

Thomas Jewell and Elizabeth Graham had the following children: