The estate dates back to a Saxon King and Queen who settled there abt. 600 A.D. At the Norman Conquest of 1066, the manor was given to Sir Adam de Coveston by William the Conqueror "for his support at the time of the Norman Conquest". Adam's descendants remained there until 1792. Today the Stowell house is called "Cotherlstone Manor". Today it is a bed and breakfast and is available for weddings and other events. It is one of Somerset's most historic houses. Visit their website for more details.
The manor is located in Taunton, County Somerset, England, "six miles from the Bristol Channel". The Google map below shows the location.
The following is an excerpt from “Stowell Genealogy”, by W.H. Harrison, regarding Samuel Stowell:
It is reasonably certain he belongs to the Stowell or Stawell family that settled in County Somerset, England, over eight hundred years ago.” The founder of the family was the Norman knight Adam, who came over with William the Conqueror in 1066 and his services were rewarded by giving him the manor called "de Coveston or de Cothelstone" and the manor of "de Stawelle" in Moorlinch, County Somerset.
Gerard in 1633 wrote: "The Manor of Cothelstone dates back to long before the Conquest of 1066, when a Saxon King and Queen are said to have been its founders. They secluded themselves within its walls in fulfilment of a vow taken at the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. It has more the appearance of a cloister than a knightly castle such as the warrior, Sir Adam, might have desired."
"Cothelstone is a very remarkable place on account of its great antiquity, being one of the oldest homes in England, situated six miles from the Bristol Channel, in Quantock, County Somerset. It came into the possession of the Stawell family in 1066. At that time the manor consisted of a beautiful and extensive mansion with many buildings belonging to it and immediately clustered around it, including the Church, eleven farm houses and fifty-four cottages. This manor has been retained in the Stawell family in an unbroken line, from oldest son to oldest son, from 1066 down to the present time.
On the summit is a round tower, nothing whatever being known of its builder or the date of its erection. From it a magnificent view is obtained, said to be the most extensive in England.
The manor of "de Stawelle" also dates back to old Saxon times when it was known as "Estawella" or Eastern Spring.
Originally these Norman knights were known only by their Christian names, but gradually they adopted for purposes of identification, as their surname, the name of the manor or estate where they lived. Thus Sir Adam became Sir Adam de Coveston.
This was very soon changed to Sir Adam de Cothelstone and later on to Sir Adam de Stawelle. The titled branch inherited by the eldest son was very influential in the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th centuries and in the time of the Civil Wars was the most prominent family in South Western England, as they had acquired by marriage or purchase some twenty-six additional manors or estates with the church livings and advowsons that accompanied them. They built one of the largest mansion houses in England. They were royalists and staunch supporters of the Stuarts. When the Parliamentary Party and Cromwell came into power their estates were confiscated and their mansion house and the church badly damaged and Sir John Stawell was imprisoned for several years in the Tower of London, living in poverty with his health completely broken down.
Under Charles II a restoration was made of such property as remained and his son Ralph as recompense was created on the fifteenth of January, 1683, a Baron under the title of "Lord Stawell of Somerton," named after one of the other manors. Later, when the title of Baron lapsed owing to the failure of male issue it was continued by special Act of Parliament upon the daughter Mary as Baroness Stawell, 21 May 1760, with the right of inheritance by her male descendants, but after a few generations the title of Baron again became extinct owing to the lack of male issue.
Some of the younger sons were created Knights in their own right through their ability and prominence and thus acquired the title of Sir and served as members of Parliament and in other high offices.
The church at Hingham, Mass., which was organized in 1635 and attended by Samuel Stowell, the immigrant, has had Stowell worshippers continuously from 1649 to the present day. While not the oldest church society or organization, the church building itself, erected in 1680, is the oldest meeting house in America that has been continuously used for public worship, hence the church at Cothelstone and the church at Hingham have between them had Stowell worshippers from 1066 to the present time.
Samuel was not a common name in the family in the early days. In Col. George D. Stawell's History of the Stawell family, the name of Samuel does not appear in a single instance until recorded in the Registers of Bath and Chudleigh in 1562. Forty Stowells are mentioned therein; thirty-five of these are spelled Stowell and five are spelled Stawell. The name of Samuel appears in the Bath Abbey Register which gives the birth of a Samuel Stowell on the 5th of January 1581 and the Chudleigh Parish Register gives the death of a Samuel Stowell, 7th of December 1628, probably the same Samuel. He may have married and had children though I find no record either of his marriage or of any children.
Possibly our immigrant Samuel may have been a son of his. We know the date of death of our Samuel to be in 1683, but as we do not know his age at time of death, we cannot definitely fix upon the date of his birth, but indications point to about 1625. As far as dates are concerned this would fit in with his being the son of the above Samuel who died in 1628.
Although there were a few scattered families there prior to that date, the real settlement of Hingham, Mass., occurred in 1635 when a large colony from Hingham, England, came over with the Rev. Peter Hobart among them as their pastor and organized the town naming it Hingham after their old English home.
This would make Samuel about ten years old at that time. He may have been brought over by some relative on his mother's side, or by some friend of the family or as an orphan apprenticed to one of the immigrants. This was probably the case for his name does not appear on any of the ship's registers or in any of the Hingham records until his marriage in 1649 to Mary Farrow is recorded in Hobart's Diary.