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Thread: Sewell - A Royal Link

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Sewell - A Royal Link

    In 1810 a valet named Joseph Sellis was murdered in St James's Palace by Prince Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, fifth son of George III. At a managed inquest, Ernest swore that Sellis had tried to assassinate him, was foiled, and had cut his own throat. Sellis was buried in a London street as a suicide.

    His widow and four children were thrown out of the palace. They evidently went to the north of England, and here we come to the Sewell connection.

    In 1982 Miss Phyllis Sewell of 6 Hapton Street, Levenshulme, Manchester, gave the British Museum some relics of Sellis: his nameplate and key from his suite of rooms in the palace, and the laissez-passer he had used when travelling from his birthplace, Sardinia. I wrote to her, and she replied, 'I appear to be the only member of my family to be interested. I wanted these items to be preserved for posterity.' She also said, 'My paternal grandmother was a niece of my maternal grandmother, both with the maiden name of Foden.'

    Recently I have made contact with another Sellis descendant, a woman in Devon who has a small portrait of him. It has come down to her through forebears in Bradford, also named Foden.

    The Sellis children were born from 1800 to 1809. It might be possible to trace the family sequence onward to the Foden/Sewell connection.

    My interest arises from my having written a biography of the Duke of Cumberland, 'Wicked Ernest' (2002). I would be pleased to have any new details.

    John Wardroper
    60 St Paul's Road, London N1 2QW

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2017

    Default Re: Sewell - A Royal Link

    I have a connection to Joseph
    My relatives names are John Foden and Charlotte Sellis married in Liverpool and lived in Cheshire

    It would be great if anyone can help any further.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2018

    Default Re: Sewell - A Royal Link

    Hi John,

    I tried searching for you on the social media platforms but couldn't find you or any contact information. I become interested in genealogy in 2014, whether it was to find who my father is where my great grans of great grans come from to who they were. All of which as been a fascinating discovery.

    About 2 years ago now I was working on my grandmothers side of the family, you know going more back in time. And, I came across to discover my 6th Great-grandfather is Joseph Sellis (The only foreign ancestor coming from outside the UK and Ireland that I have throughout my family tree). I did do more research on this person to find out the royalist scandal events that occurred. Joseph is even a Google search away before you start to find information about him which means more than 200 years this scandalise event still lives on to this day.

    I am the youngest generation line so I do have contact information for my last living sibling of great grandmothers generation who is still alive to this day. She was born in 1929. Currently the eldest in all corners of my family upto now that I know of. As soon as I found out that she was alive from one of my grandmothers 1st cousins was able to look into her more in depth. When and who she married, then an address and telephone number. Tried phoning first but no answer! So my only option was to then unexpectedly go and pay her a visit. And, seeming as I am from Liverpool and she lives in Southport it wasn't to far to travel. She just to happens to be born in Manchester like my great grandmother, my nan and mother and generations above them.

    So on July 2015 I am now knocking on this door and hoping it is the right person. Took me 2 hours to get there! She opens the door and I begin with what I found as a awkward meet and greet. Who I am, what I am going and just got straight in there with all the questions. At this time I knew nothing about Sellis and or that part of the branch on till later on that year maybe or the year after on... I wanted to know if she had any information on her parents or grandparents and or ANY PHOTOGRAPHS OF THEM. She was a kind little old lady. (Hair like Peggy Mitchell of Eastenders - Blonde but grey, curly hair, bummed up. Had that Hollywood smile with full on white tooth. Which at her age probably fitted in with polly grim) Told me brief information about her father and brief information about her mother. Wasn't to sure on her grandparents... Most probably because they where all dead where see was very young. Showed her photos on my grandmother and her sister (My great gran) brings back memories she said. Got a photo of her on my iPhone that I had at the time. Towards the end of our meet and greet I wasn't expecting to go in and have a cup of tea (Not that I drink this) or anything she had a little bit of a barrier up which is expected really. Said she'd look for this photograph he is sure is in the house somewhere of her father and his parents or maybe Raymond has it (Raymond is my grandmothers eldest half sibling). By the way my Great-Grandmothers grandparents are John Richard Dixon (1862-1926) and Esther Louisa Foden (1862-1934). Now photos for these people would be GOLDEN for my family tree as this has been a long term objective of mine to get photos of my linage/ancestors where possible on the direct lines of whom we decent from! They is a Disney movie called Coco that in real theatrical terms describes my reason that I can not express enough why it is important that these photos of these ancestors need to live on. Otherwise the person in the photograph aswell as being died in a real sense they are also dead in a photographic sense if no one knows who it is! This means they no longer exist within existences as its just a photo with him/her or them in it without a name, without an identity! I find myself in a race with time to get these photographs of such people before it is to late because you never know when a person's time is up before they depart to the after life. If you believe the after life that is... Anyway, moving on I phoned Raymond (My grandmothers eldest half sibling), was helpful. Said I would send a letter saying stuff in more detail as he doesn't believe he was such a photograph that his aunt once describes. Sent that off. Don't think he got it though... July time of that same year my Great grans sister phoned me (Just so happens to be at the worse time ever as we was either off to do a tech/ last rehearsals before an actual show or the first show of 3) I did not know who it was at first after she said it was such and such a person but then it clicked. Ohhhhhh yes I know I said. Anyway she was curious specifically about that photo I took of her. Her thought to much about what her son (Who is the same age as my granddad by the way) might think. Her son seems over projective which is good I guess as she is of such an old age now. Anyway I did not have her mobile number but I did save it after she rang me. The following week after all the youth theatre shows where over the summer holidays begins. I then start to write her a letter, which is un-generation like for me as we are all about the digital presence and social media platforms so I think she was the first person I sent a letter to as well thats what people where doing for 1000s of years, letters as a form of communication. I begin by stating who I am, how I fit into the family and that I didn't mean to be random or any form of threating where I came to find out information about the family. Told her we where all disconnected and am just trying to discover find out things and get to know who I am related to and all that. Few days later, I was in bed still and I heard my phone ringing. "Who is this calling" I thought and it was my great grans sister. So I sit up right and ready to answer, I answer "She says hello it's *****" So I am like awww hello are you okay blah blah blah... She says Oh that was a lovely letter... Meaning she understood what I was saying thankfully and why I ask such things and want to know such things. So we talk a little about my great gran more to do with her parents and siblings etc. Anyway she ended the call on that he is be old to be wanting to find family and all that stuff (she knows that her, her husband children and all that thats all who matters...) Implying not that much interested in the whole genealogy stuff however didn't come to recognise that I am or other people are and that she holds all the important information. Like she is the go to person. The Holy Grail of our family genealogy and holder of photographs and information. Did phone around to ask stuff other than the her and they all tend to refer me to her but I do been to get a move on in terms of getting getting information and photos. If only the technology we have today existed 200 years ago. I sent her another later like a year later with photos of my great grandmother and information about how we fit into the tree in case she forgot and went into detail about the family and Sellis. She seemed interested to know more about him. Didn't know anything about him I don't think. But, the other later brought back memeories she said.

    Over the past 2 years have looked more into DNA as a teller of Family History. Has helped a lot in terms of confirming biological connections and with building a family tree. As a simple rule that genealogist recommend they as get your parents tested before you get yourself tested or even better grandparents or even great grandparents if you are that lucky. This is totally true considering if you do family research through DNA you get 50% from your mum and 50% from your dad they get 50/50 from their parents and so on that means someone of my luckyness if that such a word if you get get someone who is on the 4th generation line of Great Grandparents tested that 8 times richer in terms of DNA results you are going to get and higher confidence in terms of how you are related. Not only that figures I find within my families DNA of whom I have got tested results of such higher generations are more likely to show more higher in confidence the origin locations and ethnicity where ones ancestors use to live and lets say in terms of myself that can be lost in terms of genetics being past down. So the higher the generation the more statical with centimorgans your gonna get the better. I'm in the process still of getting my mothers generation ticked off the list of whom to get test and then more to go within my grandmothers side of the family. In particular, my great grandmothers sister if she is willing. If not I do have other possible alternatives. Ethnicity background I am looking for in particular is this Italian which brings me onto my next thing.

    Where I begin to build more in depth-fully on my Grandmothers side of the family I did come across to discover that I too am related to Joseph Sellis. I did more research on this man to discover he is in fact my first ancestor that wasn't born in the UK or Ireland. So first oversees ancestor. I did come across all these attached documents that people have been writing about him and the royal scandalise events that happened and his where abouts in the world before he came to the UK and worked as a valet in St James' Palace for the Duke of Cumberland. Joseph Sellis is just a Google search away to finding a load of information about him now a days which is good that his history still lives on to this day. From a Google search am able to find three portraits of him upto now. Writing your post did not know that he was buried in London Street, wouldn't mind going to look next time I am in London. In terms of Joseph's widow I was speaking to a woman on Twitter who recently written a book regarding Sellis' court case. I haven't read the book yet but she does go on to say that his wife (Mary Ann) is their trying to fight in court against the Duke due to the death of her husband which would be interesting to read it is called "Gueens of Georgian Britain by Catherine Curzon." She said the photo I sent her of him that I got of Google of him trying to kill the Duke is a painting/ depiction of him as a Ghost. A lot of conspiracy in terms of what actually happened whether Sellis seen his wife and the Duke in bed together or whether it was the other new favourite valet to himself. I think he did sleep with another valet in the bedroom maybe not so his wife and certainly not himself. A plot was then created I think to get rid of Sellis as the blackmail could of occur so suddenly a great valet to a royal threat he became. Would be good to know more information as to whether he got killed the night the whole thing happened or whether it was days or weeks later to conclude what maybe could of or couldn't be the case. His wive (My 6th Great Grandmother) remarried on 07 December 1812 at St. Mary, Islington, England her James Draper (1771–1843). They had no children which I from what I can find. But the children her and Joseph had goes as followed

    Mary Ann Sellis

    Sarah Sellis

    Charlotte Sellis (5th Great Grandmother)

    Joseph Sellis

    Ernest Augustus Sellis
    (Now for EAS there are only death records to be found would be good to be able to find a birth. Dead where he was in Liverpool in 1810. As I am from Liverpool will be sure to go and look at his grave see if their are any information about him.)

    Do you know what year they where thrown out of the palace and why?
    I was able to locate how Phyllis is related and her grandmother Lucy Ellen Foden is my great grandmothers nans sister Her name is Esther Louisa Foden. James Draper, grandfather in law to both of these people is in the 1841 census with my 4th Great Grandfather Joseph Foden (1830-1903). However, can not seem to find where Many Ann (Sellis' wife) lived or died.

    Who is this other woman you recently got in contact with Devon? And, or Bradford?

    Speaking about DNA before if she is willing to my great grand aunt will be the best source to get DNA tested with Ancestry. She is the best chance of tracing Italian and English Ancestors a like.

    Do get in contact if you see this and anyone else who see's my comment and think your related to Foden, Sellis or Dixon's drop me an email on:

    I am also on Ancestry. com and all the others my username is joshwhitmore

    Josh Whitmore

    15 Jacob Street,
    Liverpool L8 4TG,
    Last edited by JoshWhitmore; 7th November 2018 at 09:07 PM. Reason: Added a little bit to it

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2018

    Default Re: Sewell - A Royal Link

    Hi CasyB,

    I am also am a descendent of John Foden and Charlotte Sellis more specifically from Joseph Foden (1839-1903). My tree is searchable on Ancestry. com if you want a look username is joshwhitmore. Alternatively you can email me or find me on Facebook or any other social media platform by searching for

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2018

    Default Re: Sewell - A Royal Link

    Did you get in contact with distant relatives that way, Josh?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2018

    Default Re: Sewell - A Royal Link

    In what way?

    On Ancestry. Com have spoken to a lot of distant cousins that have the same interests as I do like. Online family trees is the easiest way to find relatives that have the same interests as us. Theirs the tree building way to find people that are tracing the same family which is good for one another to expand there family tree and then there’s the new DNA testing way to find relatives. Have found some on the Foden side of the family like which is good considering I still have older generations to get tested yet.

    Sam, are you also a distant cousin or? With the person above ^^^CasyB glad to say am I contact with her now found her on Ancestry .com too...

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