A family tree of the Randell family originating in Cromer, Norfolk
Thomas Randell ~ The Randell Warm Seawater Baths ~ Clockmakers ~ Ironmongers ~ Postmasters ~ Sailors ~ Victorians

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The Earlier Randells

Thomas Randell 1788 of Cromer, currently sits at the head of this family tree. He is the earliest Randell that I can definitively claim. Naturally I would like to know who his father was but...
Thomas was reasonably well documented, he was in several commercial directories, as a Clockmaker, Ironmonger, a seller of curio’s, owner of a guest house and the proprietor of Randell's Warm Sea Water Baths. By 1826 he was living in Jetty Street, Cromer. However, he was not born in Cromer but a few miles south in the hamlet of Bessingham, Norfolk.
Bessingham, in a 1845 narrative was described as "a parish of 139 souls". None of which, at that time were named Randell. Of course, by 1845, Thomas Randell was almost sixty so the possibility of his parents still being alive and in Bessingham are remote. However a sibling could linger on. Extensive searching of the census produced only one candidate, John Randell in North Walsham, born 1781.
As a possible aspirant for a brother, he does rather well. He was born within five years of Thomas, in apparently the same place and as luck would have it, he was also an ironmonger. Fortunately John Randell re-married in 1846 leaving a record of his father on the marriage certificate. This shows James Randell, a farmer in Barningham, to be the father of John Randell but there is no reference to any son called Thomas, in James Randell's family. So we can rule him out.
Parish record suggest Clement or Clemence Randall was the father of a Thomas Randall around this time. Unfortunately, Clemence seems to be a humble farm worker, worthy indeed, but the implication is that Thomas, his son, did a watchmakers apprenticeship and acquired sufficient assets to be on the voting register by 1825. Clemence Randall had several children, the youngest and only one I can find in the census record, is Phoebe, but she was a pauper in West Beckham workhouse in 1841. I also submit that no children or grandchildren are called Clemence. Whilst none of this rules Clemence out, I have reservations about declaring him the previous generation.
Yet another scenario is laid out in the 1812 Survey of Land Taxes, archived in Cromer Museum. This option includes a taxpayer called Benjamin Randell living in Cromer. Unfortunately other than he was a landlord who paid an annual tax of five shillings on his rental income, nothing else is chronicled.
Clifford and Yvonne Bird's Directory of Norfolk Clockmakers lists a Nathaniel Randell in Diss. He clearly has the right name and occupation but is too early to be a candidate as a father of Thomas Randell. The village of Bressingham, just outside Diss, could be mis-heard or mis-spelt, but it seems completely devoid of any Randells of any generation at any point.
Another odd scenario, involves Nathaniel Randell born 1830, who migrated to Ixworth, in Suffolk. He arrived immediately after the death of the last member of a previous Randell family, giving the impression that the Randells had a continuos occupation of Ixworth for over a hundred years but as far as I'm able to confirm it's simply a coincidence.
In conclusion it seems we may never be able to correctly attribute a father to Thomas Randell.

The Origin of the Name

In the 1851 census, 209 Randell families lived in England, of these, 15 were found in Norfolk. Only the counties of Hampshire and Dorset had more. The remaining Randell families were mainly scattered in a loose chain along the south coast of England.
All modern variants of the surname Randell, are assumed to come from the Middle English given name 'Randel'. Rande meaning 'shield', combined with the Norman French suffix 'el' creating Randel or son of Rande.
“Randle” in an assortment of spellings, occurs increasingly frequently in writings from the time of the Plantagenet and Tudor Kings but the name Raedwuff or "shield wolf", was used in England long before the Norman Conquest.
This earlier Nordic and Germanic variant Randwulf or Randolph, is similarly sourced as a combination of wolf and shield.
An Anglo Saxon derivation with a possible Norfolk bias, is that place names from Middle High German used 'rande' in the context of the rim of the shield giving rise to names specifically along the rim or edge of waterways. Less formal spoken language extended this to general locations simply at the rim or edge of a locality. In this way Thomas who lived at the edge of a lake or village could become 'Thomas Randell'. Before the land was systematically drained in the 17th century, much of Norfolk consisted of marshland providing plenty of opportunity to be named a 'Randel'.

Cromer, Holt and North Walsham

Mainly because of their occupations, I initially assumed the Cromer, Holt and North Walsham, Randell families were related by a common ancestor. Consequently I relentlessly tried to connect the three families. In doing so I amassed a data base of census information which was outside the domain of the descendants of Thomas Randell.
The North Walsham section is part of that material. Joan Randell, of the North Walsham family, provided parish record transcriptions and as a consequence elements of this section are a collaboration of her knowledge and my typing.
The Holt Randall family were connected to the Cromer Randell family over a long period. Nathaniel Randell 1829 of Cromer served his apprenticeship as a watchmaker with John Randall in Holt. He lived with John's family during this period. Ephraim Randell was an assistant ironmonger in Holt for many years at the premises of John Randall and Robert Lawrence Randall, grandson of the original Holt' John Randall lived in Chesterfield Villas, Cromer, an established home to several Randells from the Cromer bloodline.
To further blur the picture, Nathaniel Randell 1850 Cromer, travelled to New Zealand on the Dorette in 1874 with John Randell Caston, the grandson of Onesiphorus Randell of Cley. Coincidence, possibly, but they lived next door to each other in Khyber Pass Road, Auckland for many years and were both councillors on the Newmarket Borough Council at the same time.
The villages of Bessingham, Matlask and Barningham and the surrounding area produced several Randell families but to date, as far as I'm aware, nobody has connected any of them to a single ancestor. Unfortunately, the consensus opinion is that there is no obvious ancestral link between the known members of each family.

Click to see complete list of North Walsham Randells.

Hi, I would love to hear from you. I would be thrilled to receive any contributions or even corrections.
If you are connected to this family tree please say hello, Martin -