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samuel rowsell

Samuel Rowsell (1777-1858) was a solicitor of Tulse Hill in London. He married Sarah Smith (1775-1847) on 18 Jul 1794 in London and they had 15 children. Among them are some famous and prominent people with whom this post is concerned.

  1. Elizabeth Rowsell (1797-1874)
  2. Sarah Rowsell (1798-1882) married Sir Charles Barry (1795–1860)
  3. Samuel William Rowsell (1800-1860) married Anna Alicia Penning (1810-1888)
  4. Charles John Rowsell (1802-1882) married Sarah Lewis (1809-1897)
  5. Rev.Evan Edward Rowsell (1804-1875) married Anna Maria Baker (1808-1893)
  6. Jane Rowsell (1804-1864)
  7. John Thomas Rowsell 1805-1894 married Eliza Thompson (b. 1813)
  8. Henry Rowsell (1807-1890)
  9. Jane Rowsell 1808-1890
  10. Eleanora Rowsell 1811-1888
  11. Thomas Rowsell (1811) [died as infant]
  12. William Rowsell (1812-1850) married Maria Lewis (1812-1889)
  13. Catherine Mary Rowsell (1815-1902)
  14. Rev. Thomas James Rowsell (1816 1894) married Marianne Norman
  15. Emily Rowsell (1819 1898) married Thomas Grueber

Sir Charles Barry

Samuel’s second child was Sarah Rowsell (1798-1882) who was listed in the Visitations of England and Wales, which were tours of inspection undertaken by Kings of Arms to regulate and register the coats of arms of nobility and gentry and boroughs. She married the famous architect Sir Charles Barry (1795–1860) on 7th December 1822 at St Matthew Friday Street, London, England and had seven children four of whom were also famous architects. In 1840 Barry began his great work with Augustus Pugin, the Houses of Parliament, including the clock tower that houses Big Ben.

Houses of Parliament

Sir John Wolfe Barry

One of Charles and Sarah’s sons, Sir John Wolfe Barry (1837-1918) married his own cousin Rosalind Grace Rowsell (1846-1937) who was daughter of Samuel Rowsell‘s sixth child, the Reverend Evan Edward Rowsell (1804-1875) of Hambledon. The cousins married in the village of Hambledon near Godalming in Surrey in 1874 and had four sons and three daughters. John Barry was most famous for his construction of the iconic Tower Bridge in London which he completed in 1894.


The Tower Bridge photographed in 1900

Sir John Wolfe Barry

Samuel’s first son was named Samuel William Rowsell (1800-1860). He was married to Anna Alicia Penning (1810-1888) at Marleybone church in November 1828 and they had 6 sons and 5 daughters two of which are buried with their spouses, parents and grandparents in the Rowsell family grave in West Norwood Cemetery. In 1838 Samuel William Rowsell was an auditor of the Mutual Life Assurance Society at 37 Old Jewry, and by 1840 he was on the board of directors. One of Samuel and Anna’s 11 children was Sir Francis William Rowsell CB CMG (1838-1885) who was British commissioner of ceded Daira lands, Egypt and a commissioner for inquiry relating to the Government of Malta 1877–8 (see the The Rowsell-Julyan-Keenan Commission)


Francis William Rowsell

Samuel and Sarah’s second son was Charles John Rowsell (1802-1882) who had 4 children with Sarah Lewis (1809-1897).


Rowsell type Graphoscope

Charles John Rowsell patented the graphoscope in 1864: “Apparatus for viewing photographic and other pictures, coins and medals, which is also applicable in the production of drawings and paintings“, British Patent: 270

Rowsell, Samuel William//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

edit evan edward rowsell

The Reverend Evan Edward Rowsell (1804-1875) is Samuel’s third son. He married Anna Maria Baker (1808-1893) on 29th December 1831 at St Ann’s Limehouse, East London. They had 8 children, the first 7 of whom were born in London. Their last child, Clarence William Rowsell, was born in the district of Guildford, Surrey in 1849 at which point they were living near Godalming. Prior to living in rural Surrey, Evan was Curate-in-charge of the parish of Brinkley in Cambridgeshire and appears to have brought increased worship and growth to the little church there.

Hambledon Church

Hambledon Church

From 1859 he lived for a long time in the Surrey village of Hambledon . By 1859 he and his wife were living on Godalming high street. There is a touching entry in Godalming town centre parish church baptism records where we find him baptising his own son, Clarence. It appears that during this time, rather than leading a church, he is a private tutor.

rectors of hambledon

Rev Rowsell's memorial at Hambledon Church

Rev Rowsell’s memorial at Hambledon Church

Two of his sons went on to be clergy. Rev Evan Edward Rowsell is recorded as being involved in a £500 mortgage for the Cold Harbour Estate. The figure involved suggests not inconsequential private means, due to the affluence of the Rowsell family of Lambeth. Like many of the clergy of Hambledon before him, Rev Rowsell died in post and was buried at Hambledon in December 1875 and two of his grand-daughters were later buried with him.

William Haig Brown of Charterhouse

As previously mentioned, Evan’s seventh child was married to the famous Sir John Wolfe Barry, but his eldest daughter Annie Marion Rowsell was also well matched with William Haig Brown Master of Charterhouse school near Godalming. See the following excerpt from his biography WILLIAM HAIG BROWN OF CHARTERHOUSE A SHORT BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIR.

But it was towards scholastic work with its greater
opportunities of usefulness and its many problems of absorbing interest that his inclinations at this time were evidently leading him, and perhaps, too, the bent of his mind may have been quickened by reason of the fact that chance had lately thrown in his way the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the family of the Rev. Evan Edward Rowsell, who was then Curate-in-charge of the parish of Brinkley, in the neighbourhood of Newmarket. Haig Brown, as has been said, was fond of riding: Brinkley was at a convenient distance, and the rectory, with its congenial company of young people and its warm welcome, became a very pleasant and a very frequent terminus for a ride. Mr. Rowsell’s family consisted of four daughters, all of whom married well and happily in later life, viz., Annie Marion, who became Mrs. Haig Brown ; Adeline Mary, who married the Rev. Dr. Porter, afterwards Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge ; Flora Catherine, who married Colonel, afterwards General, Stewart, of the Royal Marine Light Infantry ; and Rosalind Grace, who became the wife of John Wolfe Barry, the engineer, now Sir John Wolfe Barry, K.C.B.; and four sons.

As the acquaintance ripened into friendship and in-
timacy, Haig Brown began to foresee that there was just a possibility that his affections might become seriously engaged to one of the ladies of that family, and so it might in consequence become ultimately necessary to resign his fellowship, and obtain work which would enable him to marry.

Samuel’s 12th child William Rowsell (1812-1850) has an interesting but very sad story. A poetic letter to Maria Lewis (1812-1889) reveals a romantic relationship with a mystery man when she was 23 years old.

Dear me how very odd it is
To have a letter from a Miss
Full of such tender loving matter
And see too how the girl can flatter
She talks of charms and…………… beauties
That never were in Polly Lewis
Surely to turn my shallow brain
And spite of reason make me vain
Can only be Miss Luffs design
In sending me this Valentine

And yet perhaps in this I err
And far more wisely should infer
That this is but a copy meant
For my inspection of one sent
To her by some admiring ..(gent?)…
Beseaching her to change her name
And she would ask a friend’s advice
Whether ’tis good with him to splice
If so I’ll lose no farther time
But criticize her Valentine

After deliberate attention
And more ….. study than I’ll mention
Ms my opinion dear Mifs Luff
That he who wrote such fulsome stuff
Is some old empty headed fool
Or else a boy just come from school
And I advise you to beware
Of his fine speeches and take care
He tempts you not to be his wife
Such hot love could not last thro’ life
And trust me you would aft reprise
You listened to his Valentine

mary lewis letter

The love letter to Mary Lewis dated 1836

I assume the letter was from William Rowsell because they were married 6 years later on 13th April 1842 in Toronto, Canada and had one son and two daughters there. At some point around 1848 they moved back to England and things went terribly wrong for them. The dashing William was committed to a lunatic asylum in Hackney after his Mother and then his one year old daughter Julia Maria Rowsell died. He perished in the asylum on 24th July 1850 after just 8 years of marriage. Maria moved to the village of Lewes in Sussex where she lived a long life and died aged 77.

maria lewis

Maria Lewis (Rowsell)

william rowsell

William Rowsell (1812-1850)

IMG_3311 IMG_3312

Samuel Rowsell’s youngest son was The Reverend Thomas James Rowsell M.A. (1816-1894). He became a very popular preacher starting his career in Stepney in the East End and finally becoming Canon of Westminster Cathedral and Honorary chaplain to Queen Victoria. He received a BA at St John’s College, Cambridge, 1838; and a Masters degree in 1843.

rev thomas rowsell

st peters cephas st stepney

St Peter’s Church, Cephas Street, Stepney, now converted to flats. Where Thomas James Rowsell began his work as a preacher in 1844

Thomas James Rowsell was married to Marianne Norman about 1841 and they had 2 sons and 2 daughters. The following is a timeline of his impressive career.

  • Domestic chaplain to Duke of Sutherland.
  • Vicar, St Peter’s, Stepney, 1844-60.
  • Rector, St Margaret’s, Lothbury, 1860-72.
  • Select preacher at Cambridge, 1859-62.
  • Honorary chaplain to the Queen, 1866;
  • Chaplain in ordinary, 1869 to death;
  • Vicar, St Stephen’s, Westbourne Park, 1872-83.
  • deputy clerk of the Closet, 1879 to death.
  • Canon of Westminster, 1880 to death.
Thomas James Rowsell

Reverend Thomas James Rowsell 1890

He was present at the funeral of Charles Darwin at Westminster Abbey in 1882. Thomas died 23January 1894; his funeral service was held at Westminster Abbey, 27 January of that year and he was buried near to the Rowsell family grave at West Norwood Cemetery. The engraving below depicts Canon Rowsell preaching to “the mob” outside Westminster Abbey.

TJR addressing the mob

Thomas J Rowsell addressing the mob on a Sunday

Grave of Rev. Thomas J Rowsell

Westminster Abbey