The Sole Society, a Family History Society researching Sole, Saul, Sewell, Solley and similar names

Sole Co-ordinator's Report - March 2000

(Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire)

By Bob Sheldon

We have had a few breakthroughs in our research since my previous report. The most interesting one came about through the meeting of two members at the October 1999 conference who did not know they were connected until we all compared notes.

Jennifer and Jo are cousins

Jennifer Ball had traced her ancestors back to Edward and Rose Hannah (DRAYSON) SOLE of Woodnesborough in east Kent. They were married in 1823 and had 11 (or 12) children. The uncertainty about the number arises from whether son George (born 1840) subsequently adopted the name Edward after he married Sarah Harriet MARSHALL or whether Edward (born 1830) 'lost' 10 years of his age in his marriage certificate, subsequent Census records and finally his death certificate. Up to the conference Jennifer had assumed that George had changed his name.

Jo Hobbs and her husband Roger had traced her ancestors back to George and Catherine (COUSINS) SOLE of Bideford, Devon. On his marriage certificate (1867) George described himself as a mariner whose father was Edward, also a mariner. From our records, the only George son of Edward who fitted was the one born 1840 to the Woodnesborough family, but the father Edward was an agricultural labourer not a mariner.

At the meeting, Jo and Jennifer looked through their trees and Jo noted that her George and Catherine had a daughter called Rose Hannah who was almost certain to have been called after her grandmother. That clinched it for us, the probabilities were too high to be ignored.

Unfortunately this left Jennifer having to revise her theory about her Edward changing his name from George. We now believe that this Edward was born in 1830 but chose to state, for reasons which we can only speculate about, that he was born in 1840. Maybe he did not wish to tell Sarah when he married her (1876) that he was 46 when she was 30. Perhaps he was so young looking and handsome that she believed him. Anyway, having had his age officially recorded for the first time in the marriage certificate, he had to continue the deception until his death.

Bill and Judy extend their family further

When Bill Sole and his sister Judy Todd joined the Society they had traced their family back to grandparents William Albert and Ada Susannah (COLGATE) SOLE (married 1894) with all three generations being born in Lewisham, a southeast London suburb. The birth certificate of William Albert gave us his father's name, William, and his mother's maiden name of Emily GOODWIN. Then the 1881 Census showed the family living in lodgings at Lee, Lewisham, but father William was not there; just mother and four children, and Emily gave her birthplace as Pettaugh in Suffolk.

This threw us a little as we started looking for the marriage of William (the most common male name in the database) and Emily, possibly in East Anglia, but we did not find it. Eventually we did find the marriage (but nowhere near Suffolk) by going back in the Family Records Centre indexes to 1873 and Bill purchased the certificate. This gave us Great grandfather's full name of William Henry and the location of Croydon, just a few miles from Lewisham. More significantly it gave us the name of William Henry's father who was Thomas SOLE, a gardener.

This breakthrough enabled us to identify the connection with one of our Kentish families stemming from William and Ann (ARNOLD) SOLE(S) who were married in 1787 at East Langdon, near Dover. So Bill and Judy now have an extended tree back to GGG-grandfather William. Bill, who has joined our Committee, now lives in east Kent and his work takes him around the area. He says he is now going to take much more interest in the parishes around East Langdon when he passes through them.

Marjorie and Aileen find more relatives

When Marjorie Wigginton joined the Society she had traced her ancestors back to Great grandparents Edward and Harriet Ann SOAL (married 1869). Our records indicated that Edward was connected to another of the Kent lines stemming from William and Ann (TANNER) SOAL (married 1733) of Reculver on the north Kent coast.

William and Ann had many grandchildren including an Edward, for whom we had not been able to find descendants. The breakthrough happened recently when examining the 1851 Census for Herne. I came across Edward SOLE, a widower, aged 63, born Reculver who was lodging with Eleanor BETSWORTH and her brother Richard. This was undoubtedly the Edward who married Bennett BETTSWORTH at Herne in 1811 for whom we had found many descendants, including Aileen Fisher, who lives in Australia, but so far, no ancestors.

We can now also be confident that Edward was the grandson of William and Ann. So two smaller trees become one big one and Marjorie and Aileen are cousins.

Sheila and Hilary meet Major Pearce

Last summer Sheila MacInnes and her husband David decided to mix business with pleasure when they went on holiday near Chichester, Sussex and spent much time researching Sheila's line at the County Record Office. Up to then she was back to GGG-grandparents Phillip and Sarah (BLABER) SOAL (married 1776) of Rustington, near Worthing in Sussex. She shared Phillip and Sarah with another member of the Society, Hilary Hale.

In the Record Office Sheila found, almost by accident, a very interesting chart which had been prepared by a Major Pearce in 1986 for Frederick Cecil Sole of Connecticut, USA. Major Pearce, who is believed to have been a professional researcher and was well known to the Records Office, had left instructions that none of his work could be photocopied without permission and unfortunately he is now dead. So Sheila and David set about tracing the chart and copying the extensive notes that were attached.

The major appears to have carried out extensive searches in the original church registers and as a result we are reasonably confident that his work can be accepted. This takes Sheila and Hilary back a further four generations to Richard and Mary (MASTER) SOLE who were married in 1594 at East Preston, near Worthing, Sussex. This makes this line one of the oldest on our records.

The notes to the chart included an interesting Will and Inventory of Goods and Chattels, which may be the subject of a separate future article. However, although Major Pearce's work is in the public domain, Sheila is hoping to trace Frederick Sole in the USA who presumably paid for the research and we await the outcome.

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