A clan is a group of people united by the sharing of common kinship and descent. Although genealogy investigations indicate that the global distribution of Sambell/Sambells families have common roots, most of the international branches have been separated for well over 100 years. One of the objectives of this website is to provide a venue and means for these different branches to reconnect in a meaningful way.

Another purpose of the “Clans” pages is to provide an opportunity for the different branches of the family clan to display highlights of their own heritage by sharing vintage photos and artifacts which are unique to their particular branch. As information is received an index of the different branches will be identified by location and name of a contact person who is a member of that particular group.

You are invited to submit an article which identifies the location of your branch today along with an explanation of your descendants from which your branch developed. Vintage family photos and photos of unique artifacts which are a part of your heritage could be posted here as well.

Branch Index

Sambell Clan of London Ontario – Contact: Mary Lois Cooper and/or Larry Jeffery

The immigrant family of Francis “Frank” Poole Sambell from Mermondsey England.
The picture was a taken in 1922 at Chatham Ontario shortly after Frank signed on to the infantry.

Francis Poole Sambell’s father, Charles Benjamin Sambell, was born in Stepney, a rough and tumble slum of London, England in 1840. The family appears in the 1851 census in Launceston, Cornwall, but were probably back in London within 10 years. Francis Poole Sambell was born in Lambeth on Nov. 10, 1873. He was the middle child in a family of seven.

His father was a builder, cabinet maker and joiner, and Frank became a skilled carpenter in the building trade. On July 8, 1894, he married Emily Louisa Rathbone, who claimed to be 21, but was in fact 19, at All Saints Church, Newington, London. Their life south of the river in Bermondsey must have been one of poverty and hardship. Emily’s mother and half-sister died early of TB and she succumbed herself at age 48 after the birth of 13 children.

The family of Frank and Emily Sambell with 10 children emigrated to Canada in 1914. They departed Liverpool on June 13, aboard the Teutonic, and arrived in Quebec City on June 21, 1914 at 3 a.m. Frank and their eldest son, also Frank, both claimed to intend becoming farmers. I can hardly contain my laughter, thinking of my grandfather, and knowing how totally unsuited he was for farming, but Canada must have been advertising for farmers at the time. They travelled by Grand Trunk railway to Chatham, Ontario, where they knew a George Cole associated with the Salvation Army. I suspect they had long connections with the S.A.

In Chatham, both Frank and Emily first worked at the laundry in the local hospital. Emily had previous experience taking in laundry in England. Emily was taken directly to the delivery room when, Grace Phoebe Sambell was born Nov. 30, 1915. [Grace celebrated her 96th birthday in 2011]. Frank later applied his carpentry skills working for the Grey-Dort auto company in Chatham, presumably building the wooden carriages. In Chatham, the family informally adopted another daughter, Dorothy Richie, who was quite alone, and wanted to accompany them to London, Ontario.

Frank Sambell joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force, as a member of the 186th Kent Overseas Battalion, on Valentine’s Day, 1916. He must have been lured by the $1/ day wage to be a soldier. At the time he was married with eleven children. When Frank signed on his wife Emily was given a small one inch pin. It is inscribed “186 Kent Overseas Batallion” with the motto “usque ad aras” which translates as “Loyal even until death”. Today this pin is a much cherished artifact of our first immigrant family.

At 42 years of age he stood 5’4” tall and weighed 135 pounds. His relatively light frame appears to have presented considerable challenge during long route marches. One of his medical case sheets reports that although he completed full training in Canada on one occasion he “fell out” on the third day of a four day route march. The following picture of his company was likely taken during one of these long marching exercises in Canada. Francis is seen marching on the right holding his rifle upside down while others are casually making adjustments to their uniforms as the long march drags on.

Frank arrived in England on the Halifax on April 7, 1916. In June of that year, he was promoted to Corporal, probably based on his previous four years experience in the Reserves in England. Ten months later, he reverted to the ranks at his own request. He was able to visit his aged parents while he was in England. In June, 1917, he caught the flu, was quite debilitated, and was invalided back home to Canada in Sept. 1917. After more convalescence, he returned to Chatham in February 1918, after 2 years in the Canadian Army. With the $800 Emily saved from his pay, they purchased their family home at 398 Salisbury St. in London Ontario. By that time, their first son, Francis John Charles Sambell, was also in the Canadian Army, and stationed in London, Ontario, so Emily was anxious to make the move.

The family was based at 398 Salisbury Street, where they ran a general store in the front of the house. Frank also built several houses in the neighbourhood, and added porches to others. The older children had to quit school to work, and things were quite chaotic in such a large household, especially after Emily’s death in 1924. However, we have a picture of the family, swimming and picnicking on the banks of the Thames River in London, Ontario, 1922, squinting into the sun, and so happy to be free of the slums of the other London.

Children of Francis Poole Sambell and Emily Louisa Rathbone: (My apologies to family members whose information may be incorrect or incomplete.)

  1. Florence Louisa Sambell (1894-1975) m. William John McRoberts (1883-1955)

a) Florence Dorothy (Dorothy) McRoberts Murray (1923-1979)

  1. Francis John Charles Sambell (1899-1983) m. Rosina Rebecca Wilder (1899-1984) a) William Leonard Sambell (1921-2007) b) Edward (Ted) George Sambell (1923 – ) c) Francis Benjamin (Ben) Sambell (1924-1987) d) Rosina (Rose) Emma Grace Sambell King (1926-1996) e) John Charles Sambell (1927-2000) f) Patricia (Pat) Blanche Sambell Broadbent (1929 – ) g) Keith Stuart Sambell (1930 – ) h) Henry Albert (Albert, or Hal, Henry 8th) Louis Sambell (1933 – 2001) i) Bernard (Bernie) Frederick Joseph Sambell (1934 – ) j) Reginald (Reg) Eric David Sambell (1938 – )

  2. Benjamin (Ben) Cyrus Sambell (1901-1968) m. Emily R. Bissell ( – 1984) a) Reginald Sambell b) Birdell Sambell Childs (1930 – )

  3. William (Bill) Alfred Sambell (1903-1985 m. Isabelle E. Rooks ( – 1970) m. Aria Verweel

  4. Sydney Syd) Frederick [used Leonard as his second name] Sambell (1905-1981) m Alice Marie Moxen (1909 – ) a) Ida May Sambell Chapman b) Robert S. Sambell c) Eileen Alice Sambell (1944 – )

  5. Mabel Cecelia Sambell (1907-2001) m. Stanley Oultram a) Donna Jean Oultram Schneider Liske (1933-2001) b) Carol Elizabeth (Beth) Oultram Panther c) Sharon Ann Oultram McLaughlin

  6. Henry (Harry) Leonard Sambell (1909-2001) m. Grace Mildred Miller ( – 1990) a) Lorraine Mildred Sambell Favalaro

  7. Albert (Ab, Skip) Edward Sambell (1910-1983) m. Evelyn Beatrice Tolchard ( -1980) a) William (Bill) Paul Sambell b) Geraldine Sambell

  8. Violet Emily Sambell (1912-2006) m. William Earl Jeffery (1902-1984) a) Mary Lois Jeffery Cooper (1943 – ) b) Larry Michael Jeffery (1944 – ) c) David Brian Jeffery (1946 – )

  9. Herbert (Bert) Harold Sambell (1913-1999) m Agnes ? (1911-1994) a) Robert Clark

  10. Grace Phoebe Sambell (1915 – ) m. Alfred Astles (1910-1988) a) Peter Astles (1936 – ) b) Diane Florence Astles Haney (1939 – ) c) Francis Paul (Paul) Astles d) Bonnie Lynn Astles (1949-1995)

Sambells Clan of Hamilton Ontario Contact: Frank Sambells

The immigrant family of James Bartlett Sambells from Torpoint Cornwall.

The deep bellowing wails of fog horns; the thumping pulse of ship engines; the splashing of serpentine swells and the groaning thuds of floating ice against the ship’s hull were all sights and sounds that confronted new immigrants on their trans Atlantic journey from England to Canada in the early spring of 1928. For the family of James and Florence Sambells, their odyssey was not yet over. The clickity-clack of railway tracks; the steamy sulfur scent of coal-fired engines; and the screeching of metal wheels on the shiny ribbons of steel that carried them from Quebec City to Hamilton Ontario, presented further unfamiliar sounds to their young children. And as with the thousands before them, the Sambells family from Torpoint Cornwall had embarked upon a journey to a new land that would provide hope, heartache, and a new promising future for generations to come.

Their destination was partly determined by their eldest son Leonard. He had finished his apprenticeship in drafting at the Devonport Dockyard in 1921 but after being laid off jumped at the job opportunities in northern Ontario Canada during the Porcupine Gold Rush. His great uncle Sydney Bartlett of St Columb Cornwall was a trusted family friend and also a recruiting agent for Hollinger Gold Mines. Sydney was able to arrange employment for Leonard at the Hollinger gold mine in Timmins Ontario. On July 6, 1923 twenty year old Leonard Sambells and his brother-in-law George Jesse Jones boarded the S S Ausconia bound for the frontier communities of northern Ontario.

Frederick Leonard Sambells

The experience was disappointing for Leonard. The kind of job opportunities which had been presented to him by Sidney Bartlett did not materialize. Leonard found the heavy labour at Hollinger Mines taxing on his rather slender frame. In addition, the long and bitterly cold winters with deep snow and the muddy boomtown conditions of Timmins were unlike that to which he had been accustomed to in the much milder environment of Cornwall England.

Although employed at Hollinger in a variety of labouring jobs that were beneath his skill level, Leonard remained optimistic. Sister Lorrie remembers Leonard as a “very sensitive and caring person, never saying an unkind word about anyone”. He was much admired by his younger brothers and sisters. He had a sensitive and kind- hearted disposition. His siblings saw past his relatively light frame and very much appreciated his patience and helpfulness. As a young girl, Lorrie recalls him frequently helping her with her schoolwork. What he lacked in physical stature and strength was made up by his patience and academic abilities. He was always thought of as the smartest of the family. Two years later Leonard boarded the S S Ausonia once again, this time returning to Plymouth on Nov. 3rd 1925.

The apparent affluence of the “Roaring Twenties” did not appear to extend to the Sambells family. Father James had retired from the navy and was a pensioner tending to his productive vegetable garden and providing fresh wild rabbit when his hunting skills permitted. Leonard acquired a job as a machine fitter and turner in Devonport. Restless for adventure and advancement Leonard decided to return to Canada once again this time as a machine operator for International Harvester company in Hamilton Ontario.

With Leonard’s second immigration to Canada the seeds of family relocation were being laid. The following year Leonard’s brother Charlie finished his own apprenticeship as a painter and decorator with his uncle, John Pengelly of St. Germans. In Canada, Leonard was enjoying his new surroundings and opportunities so much that he encouraged Charlie to emigrate as well since he too had just finished his apprenticeship. Harry still had another two years to go in his terms of service as a carpenter with John Pengelly, but in all likelihood Harry could not have been persuaded to remain in England while his older brothers were in Canada.

To James and Florence the idea of seeing their sons take flight to a new country was not without angst. Leonard’s rosy accounts of life and work in Canada were an attraction to his younger brothers. James had recently retired from a long career in the Royal Navy, and settling down to a sedentary life in Torpoint while sons went off to seek new adventures was not appealing to him. Although James’ naval career saw him spend long periods of time away from home, the family meant a great deal to him.

In 1927, after Leonard’s appeal for Charlie to join him in Canada, James pondered the family’s future. No doubt dinner conversations frequently focused on the encouraging news in letters from Leonard as well as the excitement amongst Charlie and Harry about the possibility of someday heading to Canada themselves. According to Charlie, one day after the family had finished dinner James declared, “The first ship I was on was called the Wanderer, so why not do some more wandering?” Within six months the family house and all of its contents were sold and they all were on a ship bound for Canada.

Although apprehensive about the relocation at first, Florence too, was eager to keep the family together and sought a variety of ways to convert household goods into cash. Daughter Lorrie tells a story of her mother selling a number of large planting pots, and with amusement remembers one buyer returning and complaining that they had bought the pot for more than her mother had paid for it years earlier. The original price was still on the bottom of the pot!

A few possessions that were too fragile to take with them were given away to other relatives. Charlie recalled his dad giving away some valuable items he had bought on overseas journeys when he was in the Royal Navy. However, Charlie took considerable pride in the fact that his father kept the mantle top clock given to him by Captain Craigie on the occasion of his wedding to Florence White on Dec. 26, 1899. At the time James was serving on the HMS Cambridge, a name given to the Gunnery School at Devonport. Charlie inherited that clock after his dads passing in 1946, and now I display it with pride in my own home over 100 years later.

The family left their house at 1 Moor View, Torpoint and on Friday, April 13, 1928 they left from Southampton with the intention of sailing to Montreal on the SS Aurania, Cunard Lines. They arrived at the port of Quebec on 22nd of April. Other family and friends viewed this departure date with a sense of foreboding and thought that they were tempting fate by departing on such a superstitious date. Nevertheless, with the considerable sum of $1500.00 in his pocket, and knowing that Leonard had rented and furnished a house in Canada, James and Florence eagerly packed up their remaining possessions and along with Charlie (21), Harry (18), Lucy (23), and Lorraine (12).

Nine days later as the ship entered the Gulf of the St. Lawrence bad weather and great mounds of floating ice forced the vessel to be rerouted to Quebec City. Immigration records show that on April 22, 1928 the family landed at the Port of Quebec. From there they boarded an overnight train to Hamilton, Ontario.

It was the family’s first experience seeing a countryside covered in snow. At the time, Lorraine was the youngest child, and fondly recalls a few of the wonders of that trip. She tells of her mother’s surprise at the sound of church bells that rang as the train approached each depot along the route. She thought that the church bells were heralding their arrival. Florence was not accustomed to the fact that instead of train whistles announcing each stop along the way, the Canadian trains used bells! She also marveled at the thick slices of bread used to make sandwiches that were sold on the train. She much preferred the thinner sliced ones served back home.

Once James had made the decision to emigrate, Leonard took it upon himself to find the family a home in Hamilton. He was able to rent a one and a half story brick house at 76 Huxley Ave. North for the family to live in. With his savings, and no doubt with some of the money from his father, Leonard was able to welcome his family into a fully furnished house that even included a piano!

Leonard met the new arrivals at the railway station in the morning and with pride drove them to their new home in his Studabaker car. Excited about their arrival, cousins Amy and John Dyer hosted a luncheon that day in their house on Kenelworth Ave. Indeed the circumstances and initial experiences left the family feeling very joyful now that once again they were all together. The prospects for the future looked good. The following day Charlie was able to get a job painting for Mr. Sidney Kenyon, and a few days later Harry got a carpentry job. Lucy too was able to find employment at the neighbourhood grocery store called Carrol’s. Thirteen year old Lorraine seemed to quickly settle in with the help of an eleven year old girl next door by the name of Ivy Davis. Lorraine’s brother Charlie married this girl next door in 1944.

The family of James and Florence Sambells from Torpoint Cornwall established a new Sambells clan in Canada. Their descendents have since spread out to destinations that include Milton and Guelph Ontario, Calgary Alberta, Vancouver British Colombia, Texas U.S.A. and Chicago U.S.A.

The author of this article is Frank Sambells, son of Charlie Sambells and grandson of James Sambells.

(For other stories related to this family see Biographies: Sapper Henry Sambells and Feature Article on the discovery of Sambells Lake)


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