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

SOLE Co-ordinator's Report April 2007

(Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire)

By Bob Sheldon


We welcome new member Roger Sutton who has a connection with both SOLE and SOLLY in east Kent. 


His first letter mentioned Woodnesborough, so I thought he was another cousin for our many members who are descended from Edward SOLE who raised a large family there in the early nineteenth century.  The detailed chart attached to his second letter took me by surprise as it showed a Margerie SOLE who was born there around 1585, which is some 14 generations back.  She married an Edward KNIGHT in 1607 at Canterbury.  We had this event in our records but I had to tell Roger that we know nothing more about her or her family.  She was born at a time when parish registers were in their infancy, many of them from those times have not survived and many of those that have are very difficult to read.  However we shall endeavour to research these early registers of Woodnesborough as soon as possible.


I received a letter from long standing member Anne Holland who wondered if we had found any more clues to the origin of her late husband’s great grandfather John SOLE.  We know from his marriage certificate dated 23rd December 1859 when he had married Ann STACEY at Streatham in south London that his father’s name was James SOLE, but we had not identified which James this was. 


I did have a theory that he may have been the James who was born in 1796 at Monkton in Thanet because this James did have a son John who was born in 1834, but who had drowned in the River Thames in 1866.  However, having been prompted by Anne, I made use of one of the many census indexes which are now available and found John and Ann SOLE in the 1861 census living in Battersea with their five months old son John.  He was the same age as the other John but he was described as a Coppersmith and more significantly, he said he was born in Westminster.  So, unless he was trying to deceive us, he was not born in Thanet and was a different John from my earlier theory.  Regrettably this find has not helped us much as John was born before the 1837 start of civil registration and my colleague, Maureen Storey, has no record of a baptism nor any other clue as to which family he is connected.


Our nonagenarian member Lionel Sole has been jogging his memory again.  He recalls that in 1935/6, towards the end of his seven-year apprenticeship as a print compositor in Canterbury, he was engaged on updating the Electoral Roll for his local constituency.  His particular memory concerns the small village of Stodmarsh, situated a short distance from the city.  He noticed that the largest number of persons in the village who were eligible to vote had the surname SOLE.  He was wondering how many members of the SOLE family might still be living in Stodmarsh.  Our records show that there was a very large farming family living at Sawkinge Farm, Stodmarsh from earlier than 1871 to later than 1945. 


A local map shows the farm to be still in existence.  About two years ago I received some information about this family from a descendant who was born there but who now lives in Arizona USA.  Thanks to member Elizabeth Hughes I have two photos of the church and its pulpit which contains a memorial plaque to Ernest Albert SOLE of the East Kent Yeomanry who was one of the first to volunteer for service in South Africa during the Boer War.  So the name was well known in Stodmarsh for many years.  If there are any descendants who read this and would like to make themselves known to the Society, then please get in touch.


Recently joined member Christopher Sole, who I introduced in the December journal, has been very active and has provided us with much additional information about his family with Sussex origins which we did not have.  Much of this was obtained by contact with his cousins and other relatives.  He also obtained a copy of his grandfather’s birth certificate in 1891 which confirmed a connection that we had assumed in our chart.


Derek Sole, who has been member for many years, sent a new year’s gift subscription for his brother Geoffrey and his granddaughter Eve Collis, both of whom we welcome to the Society.  These relatives are descended from one of our main Kentish families that we have traced back to 1792 with over 1400 connected people on the chart which I have now sent to Geoffrey and Eve.  Derek tells me that Eve has been very much involved in tracing her grandmother’s roots over several generations with an early connection in St Helena.


Catherine Hounsom sent a message saying she is descended from Edward Soal and Jane Austin who married at Heyshott in 1660 via Phoebe Soal who married John Hounsom in 1796.  We know this large Sussex family very well but until Catherine wrote in we did not know about her branch from Phoebe, as we usually loose track of female descendants once they are married and take their husband’s name.  Since Phoebe is seven generations removed from Catherine it is understandable that she has not become a member, but the information she gave has enlarged this chart of 1200 connected people.


To end this time we have a slightly sad tale sent in by Neil Cary.  He says “I have in my possession a photograph of George Sole who was born in August 1926.  My aunt was once engaged to George.  She is now 80 years old and would like to contact him.  I believe he came from the Portsmouth area.  If any of your members know of him or could give me any information about him, it would be most appreciated.”  On receipt of this request I contacted one of our members who is connected with George to see if he could help, but regrettably not.  All we know about George is that he was born in Portsmouth in 1926 but we have nothing more on record.  So if there is any reader who knows anything about George, I would be very pleased to pass the information on to Neil.    


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