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

SOLE Co-ordinator's Report March 2012

by Maureen Storey  




In this journal we welcome three new members: Nancy McCarthy, Janet Boxell and  Theodore Theofrastous.


Nancy is researching the family of William Kidman and Mary Sole, who married at St Dunstan in the West, London, on 11 April 1814. Mary, the daughter of John and Mary Sole, was born in Caldecote, CAM, in 1797 and her family has been traced back to John and Elizabeth Sole who lived in Stretham, CAM, in the sixteenth century. After their marriage William and Mary Kidman lived in St Neots, HUN, where William earned a living as a confectioner, a trade that Mary continued after his death in 1847.


Janet is the granddaughter of Walter Tofts and Emily Sole. Emily was born in Kelshall on 30 December 1888 and was one of the twelve children of Goodman Sole and Clara Anderson. Walter and Emily married in 1914 and went on to have three children: Norah, Wilfred and Eric. Janet says that her father never really spoke about his family so she grew up knowing very little about them something she hopes we will be able to help her put right.

Theodore is researching the Soule variant but as yet has not told us about his family connections.


The family of Charles Richard Sowell, vicar of Gorran in the late nineteenth century, was the subject of an enquiry by Sue Tonkin. She is hoping to find living descendants who might be able to throw light on the whereabouts of the deeds to the Old School House in Gorran, which Charles's daughter Mary gave to the village. Sue had seen the article entitled 'Above all a Cornishman' (Soul Search, August 2008) on the Society's website and was curious about an apparent discrepancy between the family as described in the article and the one she'd worked out from Charles's will of 1897. Charles left a legacy to 'my daughter in law Millie Sowell' in Sydney, Australia, and there was also a reference to Millie's 'dear children'. Sue assumed initially that the Millie referred to was Emily Blackett who had married Charles's son Walter, but according to the 1911 census Walter and Emily's marriage was childless. The only explanation I could think of for the discrepancy was that Charles had had another son, so I looked again at the Sowell birth records. The one that caught my eye was a Thomas Aubrey Sowell who was born 1854. I couldn't find this Thomas in the UK censuses or in the English marriage or death records but there was a marriage and a death for a Thomas A Sowell in Australia. Was this him? I found the confirmation that it was via Australia's excellent newspaper index:

Sydney Morning Herald, death notices

4 Dec 1895, Thomas Aubrey Sowell, eldest son of Rev Charles Sowell, vicar of Gorran, Cornwall, England.

It seems that some time during the 1880s Thomas migrated to Australia and he married Amelia Simmonds in Sydney in 1890. The couple had two sons Charles George and Herbert Keith. I haven't yet been able to find a marriage for Charles but it seems that he did have at least one child.  Herbert Keith was killed in France in 1917, so of Charles Richard Sowell's three grandsons, only one survived the First World War.


One of the recent additions to the findmypast website has been the records of merchant seamen.  These appear to cover the period 1836-1941, though I think they are not yet complete. The amount of information they contain varies but usually includes a place and year of birth and often a description (similar to that given on army records). The real bonus with some of the later records is that they also include a photograph. So if any of the following are members of your family and you don't have a photograph of him, that's where you'll find one:


Ernest Sole, b 1876 Rotherhithe

Herbert Frank Soole, b 1893 Twickenham

Herbert Wilfred Sole, b 1904 Portsmouth

James Soule, b 1903 Kimberley South Africa

James George Sole, b 1901 London

James John Charles Sole, b 1886 Southwick, SSX

Joseph Soul, b 1889, Liverpool

Ronald Gordon Sole b 1904, New Plymouth, New Zealand

Sydney Meredith Sole, b 1890 Newcastle Co Durham

Servicemen who left the forces during the First World War due to ill-health or wounds were issued with a Silver Badge that they could wear to show that they had been honourably discharged (and were not deserters or draft dodgers). An index to the recipients of the Silver Badges has recently been published on Ancestry and this has enabled me to identify some of the Sole and variants soldiers whose records did not survive the bombing damage during the second World War. The index gives the name, rank, regiment, service number, dates of enlistment and discharge, whether the soldier served overseas and sometimes his age at discharge. Not a lot of detail perhaps, but with the regiment, battalion and dates of service it should be possible to get some idea of what his service entailed. 


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