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

SOLE Co-ordinator's Report April 2008

(Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire)

By Bob Sheldon

Beverly Carr, who is one of our Canadian members, tells me she is planning to tour southern England in the summer of 2008 with nine of her cousins who are descended from Annie SOLE and her husband Alexander FOSSEY; they were married in Margate, Kent in 1903 prior to their emigration to Florida, America. Sadly Annie died in 1919 at the early age of 46 but Alexander lived on to become mayor of Miami in 1935. Beverly is anxious to show her cousins, for many of whom this will be their first visit to England, many of the places which would have been known to their ancestors. I hope to be able to meet up with the party during their visit.

We received an enquiry from America through the Society’s Internet Discussion Forum about William James SOLE who was born in 1877 and registered in Horsham, Sussex. The message said “This gentleman was my gr-grandfather and was sent to Canada in 1888 at the age of 10 after being at the Carter Home in Clapham for about two years.” Further information given was that he married Rose Ellen LA ROSE in 1901 in Waterford, Ontario, at the age of 24 and gave his father’s name as James SOLE on the marriage certificate and we were asked if we had any information about James. We do not have William’s birth certificate but one was later obtained by our enquirer. This was not much help as it did not contain his father’s name. His mother was named as Annie SOLE, a domestic servant cook. There were very few SOLEs in Horsham in the late 1800s and Annie was not one of them. The only person who might have been William’s mother that we could find in our records, was Ann SOLE who was living in Lurgashall, some 20 miles from Horsham, in 1871 at the age of 15, employed as a servant. She subsequently disappears from our records. So we can only speculate for now that poor William was born to an unmarried servant girl away from home, whose father might have been James, but who did not support his family; as a consequence of which William was put into a care home and eventually shipped off to Canada along with many such children around that time.

Following up a letter in a recent edition of the Kent Family History Society Journal we received some interesting information from a lady in Kent. In researching men whose names appear on War Memorials in the Canterbury area she had found two such memorial plaques inside Stodmarsh Church, one of which contains the name of Ernest Albert SOLE who died aged 24 on 24th July 1900 while on active service during the Boer War.

The other contains the name of Alfred Edgar SOLE who died also at the
age of 24 on 24th September 1918 so near to the ending of hostilities in World War 1.
She also sent us an extract from the Kentish Gazette dated 5th September 1914:

“Stodmarsh, the little village a few miles from Canterbury, with a population of only just over 100, has 14 representatives on active service. . . . . . Mr Frederick Sole of Poplar Farm, is a sergeant-major in the East Kent, and Mr Alfred Sole, of Sawkinge Farm, is a trooper in the same regiment. . . . . . . ”

Our records show that Ernest Albert and Frederick were brothers. Frederick lived on to 1960 aged 85 and was survived by his wife Caroline who died in 1976 at the age of 96. Alfred Edgar was a cousin of both Ernest and Frederick.

We have received a message from Faye Clark, who is the Director of Libraries at Hamilton, New Zealand. Faye was the author of the book “From the Marshes to the Mountains” which was published in 1991 to mark the 150th anniversary of the emigration to New Zealand from their home in Kent of six SOLE boys with their mother and step father.

It was published as one of the objectives of the Sole Family Reunion Committee established in 1988 in New Plymouth, which gathered much family information for inclusion in the book. Unfortunately the Reunion Committee has lapsed mostly due to the aging of its active members and awaits a renewal of activity. Faye has volunteered to be the contact representative of the Reunion Committee pending the appearance of an enthusiastic descendant of the New Plymouth pioneers who would be willing to recommence its activities. Copies of the book are still available. It contains information about the social conditions in Kent in the early 1800s that may have influenced the decision to emigrate and it examines some of the difficulties and challenges which had to be faced by the early settlers when they arrived. But the main part of the book contains the detailed family tree of the 2,700 descendants of this Kentish family. Faye Clark’s contact details may be obtained from me.


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