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

SOLE Co-ordinator's Report July 1993

By Don Steel

At last I am in sight of clearing the material in hand on the Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, and Cambridgeshire SOLEs. Everything sent by Kelshall descendants has now been processed and it is interesting to see how the pieces of the jigsaw fit together.

Among the Xeroxes of photos sent by Susan Rolls was one of Sid Robinson's grandfather! His death in Enfield, a North London suburb in 1898 was recorded in a family notebook Susan had located and transcribed. There, he was called not John Robinson, to which he had changed his name for reasons unknown, but John Sole. Maybe his relatives never even knew his name had been changed.

Another good example is a newspaper cutting sent by Evan and Annette Sole of Guyra, New South Wales concerning the tragic death of five year old Myrtle Moore, granddaughter of Daniel Sole who emigrated to Guyra from Kelshall in 1856.

"It appears that the little girl who was five years of age was in the kitchen where there was a little fire, engaged in clearing a fountain, Mrs Moore being outside. By some means the child's dress caught alight, and she ran through the house, setting two of the rooms on fire.

The mother, hearing screams, ran in, and succeeded in extinguishing the fire on the child; just then Mr Stephen Giffen, who was ploughing close at hand, came on the scene, and after some difficulty got the fire out of the house, but not before the bedding in one of the rooms was destroyed. Only for this gentleman's timely arrival, nothing would have saved the house."

Now Annette thought Stephen was some sort of relative but was not sure how. However, he appears on one of a whole clutch of pedigrees sent by Jeff Stevenson of Ridgehaven, South Australia. He was the brother of Jeffs great‑great‑grandmother Annie Giffen who, Jeff's grandmother told him, followed her uncles, Daniel Sole and Edward Sole (Sole Brothers Circus ancestor) to Australia. Stephen Giffen was, then, a first cousin of the little girl's mother, Maude Moore nee Sole, but there was nothing in Jeffs records to show that Stephen, like his sister, went to Australia, still less that he was a neighbour of the SOLEs in Guyra.

None of the characters in this sad little story were SOLEs, yet they are very much part of the Sole family history, and show what those family historians and One­Name Studies people who take no interest in the female lines, are missing out on. Stephen Giffen was also, incidentally, a first cousin of our editor's great­grandfather, another Daniel Sole.

The problem with trying to complete the processing of the Beds, Herts., and Cambs. stockpiled material and move on is that new material is arriving all the time, above all from Kelshall descendants. Kelshall was a kind of Sole factory. Richard Sole (1772‑1843) had eight children and 42 known grandchildren with a lot more still to be discovered. In generation after generation, eight, nine, or ten children was the norm. Three out of the four most recent "Sole" new members are of Kelshall origin, all descended from John Sole, a brother of the two brothers who went to Australia. One, David Sole of Holbeach, Lincs., a descendant of the author of the family notebook referred to above, has a Kelshall Sole descent through both parents.

Fred Sole gave me a lot of material initially and since then has kept me well supplied with Census Returns and other records. A useful recent discovery among his collection was parish register extracts for Stretham, Cambs., a parish not in the IGI and something of a Sole factory itself in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. There must be many descendants around who are candidates to join founder members Brigadier Denis Sole and his wife Susan in representing this branch in the Society, but as yet they haven't surfaced. These extracts knocked on the head my theory in the last journal that Ussley Sould who had a child baptised at Soham in 1583 might be the same person as Valery Sole of Thriplow, Cambs., ancestor of the Cambs./Herts. border SOLEs who had children baptised in 1584 and 1588, someone having mis‑read one or both of the entries. In fact the baptism probably represents an unreadable father in the original entry and baby William nestles in nicely amidst three baptisms at Stretham of children of William and Ursley (i.e. Ursula) Soule or Sole in 1578, 1579 and 1585. Well, it was worth a try. You can't win 'em all!

Speaking of this stem, Denis's ancestor Francis Sole (1748‑1815) was a younger brother of William Sole (1741‑1802), an eminent botanist for whom biographical details have been added to the chart from the Dictionary of National Biography (where the family tradition about the origin of the family is also cited). More recently I have been able to add to Denis's chart biographical details of his father, another Brigadier Denis Sole, from Who's Who, 1949. This is a good example of how the charts are gradually improved. Chart CCE Sole of Wichford, Cambs. is now on its third edition, CCJ Sole of Crudwell, Wilts on its second. Some of the Kelshall charts are up to their fifth or sixth.

Once I am clear (for the time being) of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, and Cambridgeshire, I plan to move on to Buckinghamshire, where John Soul's useful material on the Olney Souls has yet to be studied, and then to Yorkshire, where masses of useful beautifully presented material contributed by member D.S. Goodbrand has been languishing since we were formed, as well as various items contributed by others, including Linda Butler, author of the Sole Brothers Circus article. Not content with a Kelshall Sole descent herself, she married someone with a Yorkshire Sole one! Gloucestershire also needs to be approached systematically. Kent and Sussex will be an enormous undertaking, requiring (at the present rate of progress), several years just to process members' contributions and easily accessible material such as the IGI and marriage indexes. However, whenever I am in London I am continuing with my sorting and cataloguing of the Innes collection mentioned in my first report the Sole part of which is mostly Kent and Sussex material, and sensational discoveries will eventually be reported including the transcript of a taped interview with Queen Victoria's nurse, Mary Soal, in whose arms the Queen allegedly died.

My apologies to all those members whose Sole material has still to be processed. Once I have caught up the backlog I hope to be able to keep up with new material coming in, but I am afraid that happy state of affairs is still several years away.

Return to The Sole Society Home Page