1500s & 1600s
The Reffell family is believed by many to have originated as Huguenots, although no definitive evidence as yet been found. These were Protestants who became the centre of a political and religious upheaval in Catholic France and the Low Countries during the 1500s and 1600s. Most of the newcomers quickly adapted to their new country and within a few generations a large number had converted to the Church of England. Others kept their faith and remained Calvinists or other nonconformist religions, but all remained violently anti-Catholic.
By the 1700s the Reffell family is well established in the lovely Surrey village of Shere. Other locations nearby known to have Reffell connections in this century are; Dorking (from 1735), Stoke D’Abernon (from 1755), Abinger (from 1771) and Albury (from 1782).
Settlement Certificates exist in the Surrey History Centre for the following families:-
Elstead – 17 November 1787 for Henry, wife Ann and six children (Mary 1777, William 1779, Henry 1781, Elizabeth 1783, Thomas 1785 and George 1787) from Peperharow.
Albury – 21 April 1781 for William, wife Hannah and one daughter Ann from St. Martha’s.
Stoke D’ Abernon – 27 March 1749 for Marmaduke, wife Mary and six children (Mary 1738, William 1740, John 1742, Marmaduke 1743 & Sarah 1745) from Cobham.
In the early part of the century, the family was still largely confined to the South East. Much the family at this time seems to be in the county of Surrey, particularly around the Shere area, this branch eventually becoming the founders of the Gomshall Brewery. By 1826 Joseph Reffell had become the Colonial Secretary and Superintendent in Sierra Leone.
Henry Reffell was born to William Reffell and Hannah Smith in June 1792 at Albury. His parents were originally from Shere, but they had settlement in Albury on 21 April 1781. Henry married Amelia Fipps in 1815 at her parish of Ashtead, but two years later he obtained another settlement certificate that enabled them to move back to Shere. At this time they had one daughter Ceilia who was born in 1817. By 1830 the family had grown to three more daughters (Mary Ann 1820, Emma 1825, & Ann 1830) and two sons (William 1822 & John 1828), and there may be one other born around 1832. However, they are shown in the Shere list of paupers from 1830 to 1835. Ceilia had lately been ‘working in service’ at Epsom, but it appears that in some way she became chargeable to that parish. Therefore on 7 June 1834, a Removal Order was granted and she was removed back to Shere. There was salvation for her however on 10 November 1835 when she was married in the church of St James Shere to James Gilham. Henry Reffell died and was buried at the same church in 1863.
By the latter half of the 1800s branches of the family had spread to London (Joseph Reffell), had become farmers in Buckinghamshire, brewers in Kent and gun makers in the Midlands.
Henry Joshua Reffell was born, married and had his first two children in London. However another branch of the family was started when around 1883 he took his family to South Glamorgan and established the branch of the Reffell family that is still going strong in that area today.