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

SOLE Co-ordinator's Report April 1995

By Don Steel

It is interesting how in a place like Swindon, where one would have expected a number of SOLE families to arrive at different times, all the SOLEs go back to one stem.

The same turned out to be true of Basingstoke in Hampshire. All the Bas­ingstoke SOLEs are descended from William James Sole, a railwayman of Guild­ford, Surrey, who died about 1942 aged about 75, whose son George William James Sole, a railway blacksmith, had moved to Basingstoke about 1923. One visit to retired postman Kenneth Sole of Basingstoke chronicled the lot, as well as sundry cousins from Guildford. Although I find the Halbert list a great help in these visits, it does contain some odd inaccuracies. Kenneth's unmarried granddaughter Kaia is down as "Mr and Mrs Kaia Sole". It was her doorstep I first landed on, and my request to speak to Mr Sole got a bemused response. Fortunately I didn't get the door shut in my face; Kaia helpfully pointed me right away in the direction of her grandfather. She couldn't have done better. Kenneth had bought his own copy of the Halbert book and had completed a Family Record Book which saved us both a lot of talking. His Norwegian wife had a pedigree stretching back centuries. Maybe one day we shall be able to match it with his SOLE ancestry.

Connections are now springing on us thick and fast. Another place where I received a warm welcome was from Derek and Pat Sole of Risca, Monmouthshire. Pat was originally “Patricia Rose" but after her marriage to Derek she dropped the "Rose" by Deed Poll because it gave her an un­fortunate combination of initials and sur­name, a stronger motive, maybe than not wanting to be called 'Boot'! Derek was born in Rickmansworth, Herts. where his father Will was a gifted amateur and later professional boxer. His grandfather Ste­phen Sole was a greengrocer whose family was said to come from Kent and, prior to that, Scotland. Stephen shows up on the 1871 Census entry for Aldenham, Herts sent by member Sarah Knight. He was 6 years old and born at Margate. He was living with his parents. His father was Alfred Sole, aged 32, a farm bailiff born at Chislet, East Kent. Stephen's brother John, was Sarah Knight's great‑grandfather. This is a good example of how material from different sources is linking up. Chislet is the very next parish to St. Nicholas‑At-­Wade where the ancestors of the New Zealand Soles were married so we are pretty safe in assuming a connection. There are also a lot of earlier entries for Chislet in the IGI so it looks as if the SOLEs flowed from Chislet into Thanet. Derek's Scottish reference is puzzling. As a farm bailiff, it is just pos­sible Alfred had a spell in Scotland. Or it could be his wife Margaret, born in Mar­gate, who had a Scottish ancestry. There is usually something in such stories, but not always what one might expect.

East Kent also figures prominently in the ancestry of new member Robert (Bob) Sheldon, from whom we have received a most interesting letter. He was born in Ramsgate as Robert Sole, but just as Pat Sole of Risca removed her second Christian name similarly Bob changed his surname. Though it doesn't seem to have worried garage proprietor Richard Soul of Olney, I wonder how many more cases there are like this, for it is a surname which certainly leads to vulgar ambiguities. Maybe there is no more to Sid Robinson's grandfather's much‑discussed change of name from John Sole to John Robinson than that he was always called Jack and his life was made a misery at school by the simi­larity of sound between Jack Sole and the “Jakes‑'ole" ‑ maybe a slang term in the days of earth closets at the bottom of the garden ‑ and before the ‘jakes' had become the 'loo'.

Bob's great‑grandparents were Henry Sole and Susannah Doughty. His researches ground to a halt as he failed to find Henry at St Catherine's. So he listed all the marriages at St Catherine's of Susanna Doughty 1852‑1880 and found one in Thanet in 1862. He ordered the certificate and found her husband was Henry Seal. The birth certificate of their first child George in 1864 gave the name as SOLE.

Bob's theory was that Henry changed his name from SEAL to SOLE between 1862 and 1864.

So having just joined the Society, it looks like I shall now have to resign as my branch of the Sole tree seemingly was artificially grafted on to the main trunk as recently as 1862.

When I read Bob's letter I thought he was probably mistaken. It must be remembered that the registers indexed at St Catherine's House are all copies, not the originals. The originals are still with the local registrars. I thought that if I were Bob, on my next trip to East Kent I would try and fit in a trip to the Thanet Superintendent Registrar. SOAL is a common spelling in Thanet. The New Zealand family described in this issue descend from an Edward Sole, son of Edward Seal baptised at Monkton, Thanet in 1792. I felt sure the original certificate said SOAL but when copied this was mis­read as SEAL.

All this is now a bit academic because not long after his letter Bob found Henry's birth certificate under SOLE. Henry's marriage certificate showed that he was the son of a James Seal. On 17 February 1839, Henry Sole son of James Sole and Elizabeth (late Wiles) was born at St. Nicholas‑At‑Wade, the very parish where Edward Sole and Susanna Gore, ancestors of the New Zea­land SOLEs were married in 1817. So not only is Bob not leaving us but he has agreed to act as the SOLE sub‑co‑ordinator for Kent and joined the committee at the last AGM. It's very much the Society's gain that Bob's SEALs were not prematurely culled.

A couple of possible relatives Bob might not want to own have cropped up in the batch of references sent to Fred by J. A. Hilton who is indexing the Kent newspa­pers. The Kentish Express of 28 January 1882 reports the trial of Edward Sole of Herne, Kent for ill‑treating a pony, and the Isle Of Thanet Gazette for 20 November 1915 reports that of Alfred Charles Sole of Margate for cruelty to a horse. As I was saying, many family histories seem to re­port nothing but worthy deeds; what a fine upstanding body of people our ancestors must have been! Unfortunately real Family History, like Life, is not always like that. If you can't stand the heat, don't live in the kitchen: quit Family History and take up gardening instead!

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