Spurrell is a surname found in a number of parts of England and Wales, as well as other parts of the world.

The Spurrells of Norfolk, England

It has been suggested that the Norfolk family name is derived from the village of Sporle, near Swaffham, in Norfolk.[1] In 1349 a William de Sporle was admitted freeman of the city of Norwich and was later one of the men responsible for electing the first Mayor of Norwich. Spurrells were resident in Norwich in later years too, one of them, John Spurrell, being elected Mayor of Norwich in 1737.[2]

A William Sporrell who lived at Thurgarton, near Cromer in Norfolk, in the early 16th century could well be a descendant of William de Sporle and possibly originally belonged to a Norwich Spurrell family. He is recorded on the Subsidy Roll in 1522,[3] and Thurgarton parish records show several generations of the family from 1539 onwards. The Spurrell family (the change in spelling from Sporrell to Spurrell seems to have occurred in the mid-16th century) has had close links with the Norfolk villages of Thurgarton, Bessingham and Erpingham for 500 years, and also with other Norfolk families, especially the Flaxmans of Sidestrand and Roughton.[4]

A dress probably worn by Mary Flaxman, whose daughter, Elizabeth (1749–1826), married John Spurrell (1732–1803) of Bessingham, now belongs to the dress collection at Kensington Palace. Auctioned at Christie's in 1994, it is a Court mantua dating from 1750–1760, comprising two parts – an open robe with attached train and a petticoat. The silk was made at Spitalfields and has a flush pattern to the ground, brocaded with sprigs of coloured flowers.[5]

The Spurrells of Thurgarton were also related by marriage in the early 19th century to various brewing families – the Watney family, the Gray family (of the Gray and Dacre Brewery, West Ham, Essex), and also via both of these to the family of James Shears and Sons, coppersmiths of Southwark – and two brothers, James Spurrell (1776–1840) and Charles Spurrell (1783–1866), were senior employees at the Anchor Brewery, Southwark as well, the latter residing for some time at Anchor Terrace.[6] In addition to being brewers and, more importantly, Norfolk farmers, the Spurrells embraced several other professions during and after the Victorian period: Flaxman Charles John Spurrell (1842–1915), archaeologist and photographer; Herbert Spurrell (1847–1918), architect in the Eastbourne area;[7][8] Herbert George Flaxman Spurrell (1877–1918), son of the aforementioned Herbert, biologist, author and physician; Rev. Frederick Spurrell (1824–1902), the first Chaplain to the British Residents at Stockholm (1849) and Rector of Faulkbourne, Essex (1853–1898); Lt.-Col. Robert John Spurrell (1855–1929), army officer who rowed for Cambridge in the 1878 Boat Race; Rev. James Spurrell (1815–1896), clergyman who published a pamphlet criticising Miss Priscilla Lydia Sellon's "Sisters of Mercy" and the mid-19th century Catholic Revival, and not forgetting his wife, Helen Spurrell (1819–1891), who translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into English in 1885.

Several memorials and gravestones dedicated to the Spurrells can be seen at Thurgarton and Bessingham churches, and papers, wills and letters relating to the family are held by the Norfolk Records Office, Norwich.

Owners of Thurgarton House and Bessingham Manor House

Thurgarton House (formerly Thurgarton Old Hall) dates from the 1730s and has a Georgian wing, built in the 1820s. An earlier house probably stood on the site from the 16th century. The line of succession to Thurgarton House is as follows:

In the late 18th century, John (1732–1803), son of William Spurrell (1700–1761) of Thurgarton House, purchased land at Bessingham previously belonging to the Anson family. Several of his descendants lived at Bessingham Manor:

Bessingham Manor was sold on the death of Ronald Hitchcock.

Other Spurrell families in England and Wales

It is not known whether there is any relation between the Spurrells of Norfolk and those who originate from Wales and the West Country. There have been Spurrells in Devon for as long as there have been Spurrells in Norfolk, so any migration from the Sporle area to Devon would have happened over 500 years ago, which, although not impossible, is difficult to prove.

Spurrell's Cross on Dartmoor marks the spot where the path used by monks to travel from Buckfast Abbey to Plympton Priory met the path from Wrangaton to Erme Pound.[9]

In the 1790s, at the latest, a member of a Spurrell family then resident in Bath moved to Wales and settled in Carmarthen (St. Peter's). He was an auctioneer called John Spurrell, and was the grandson of Robert Spurrell, a Bath schoolmaster, who printed the first book, The Elements of Chronology, in the city in 1730. In 1840, a printing press was set up in Carmarthen by William Spurrell (1813–1889), who wrote a history of Carmarthen called Carmarthen and its Neighbourhood and compiled and published a Welsh-English dictionary (first published 1848) and an English-Welsh dictionary (first published 1850).[10] Today's Collins Welsh dictionary is known as the "Collins Spurrell".

There is a local authority housing in Carmarthen called Heol Spurrell in honour of the family.


Spurrell Avenue in Bexley, Kent, is named after Flaxman C. J. Spurrell.[11]

The Spurrell Charitable Trust makes donations each year to a number of good causes.


  1. Rye W., Norfolk Families, pp 836–839 (1913), Norwich: Goose & Son Ltd
  2. Cozens-Hardy B. and Kent E. A., The Mayors of Norwich 1403 to 1835 : being biographical notes on the Mayors of the old corporation (1938)
  3. Rye W., Some Rough Materials for a History of the Hundred of North Erpingham in the County of Norfolk (1883)
  4. Palgrave-Moore P. and Sayer M. J., A Selection of Revised and Unpublished Norfolk Pedigrees, Vol. 6, Norfolk & Norwich Genealogical Society (1974): Spurrell of Thurgarton pp. 175–177
  5. Spurrell, J. C. Spurrell Court Mantua, The Norfolk Ancestor, June 2010
  6. Spurrell, J. C., The life of Charles Spurrell and his family's links to the Watney and Gray brewing families, Brewery History No. 138 (December 2010)
  7. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/records.aspx?cat=179-gilbert&cid=3-11-6-1#3-11-6-1 – retrieved online on 7 March 2013
  8. http://www.sussex-opc.org/index.php?p=543&k=960&t=Church – retrieved online on 7 March 2013
  9. http://www.dartmoor-crosses.org.uk/spurrell%27s.htm – retrieved online on 13 October 2010
  10. Article in Welsh Biography Online, SPURRELL family, of Carmarthen , printers: http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s-SPUR-CAE-1775.html?query=spurrell&field=name
  11. Caiger, N. D. F. C. J. Spurrell, Kentish Antiquary and Archaeologist
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 1/15/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.