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

The Kelshall SOLE Line

Does a WWI Australian memorial plaque provide clues to the origins of the Kelshall line?

By Linda Butler

Attempts to trace the Kelshall SOLE line back have faltered at John SOLE who married Sarah PRATT in 1756 and died in 1800. His identity has not been positively established, though one possibility suggested early on by Don Steele is John SOLE of Layston, born in 1730, the son of William SOALL and Deborah SKEGG. Identity is uncertain because he could also have been the John SOLE who married Ann HARVEY in Kelshall in 1758. I have nothing of substance to aid in resolving this issue, but have some intriguing information that points to Don’s original suggestion being the most likely.

Early last year I met for the first time three of my mother’s cousins – David, Peter and Bill Sole. All had recently become interested in their family history, and we met to share knowledge, show photos, and, in the case of my mother and her cousins, reminisce about family members. The most intriguing item discussed that night was a WWI memorial plaque (issued to the next of kin of all Australian soldiers who died in WWI) in the name of Charles SOLE. Bill had found this item among family papers after the death of his parents. There was not a single Charles SOLE in the Australian branch of our family, and I was sent away with the task of trying to track him down.

It was not hard to track down Charles. I obtained his WWI dossier from the Australian Archives, which identified him as the son of Mrs Jane SOLE and a brother of James SOLE. His details are included in existing Sole Society charts - the son of Thomas SOLE, a descendant of the Layston branch of the family. I examined the B,D & M records for Charles and his immediate family and found:

While Charles’s WWI dossier shows that his brother James was originally listed as his next-of-kin, after his death most correspondence was conducted with his mother, and there is no further mention of James. It appears possible that he may have pre-deceased his brother though I have as yet found no record of his death. The memorial plaque was not issued until March 1923, when it was sent by registered post to his mother. She died two years later in 1925.

The only remaining immediate member of his family (excluding his half-sister Caroline) was his sister Alice. We only know of here existence through the WWI dossier (there appears to be no record of her birth). The dossier contains a letter from her to the army, which says in part (and I reproduce the letter as written):

Wright St Hurstville Sydney N.S.Wales

Nov 3/1919

To the Officer in Charge of Personal Effects

Dear Sir

Could you inform me if my brothers belonging and Estate as been claimed Bye anybody at all. I would be pleased to know so that I could go about getting them as I am is only sister and his and my mother like to know. The name of Town that he Enlisted in and the date ……

I remain yours truly

Mrs H Gover

Alice Sole married Henry Gover in 1915 in Hurstville. By 1925, a mere two years after the issuing of the memorial plaque, she is the sole survivor of Charles’s immediate family. This may in time prove useful information, but it still does not tell us why the plaque ended up with the Kelshall SOLEs.

Glad Willis, a descendant of Charles’s half-sister, Caroline, has always been convinced that her family is related to the SOLEs of Sole Brothers Circus (i.e. the Kelshall line). Her family had regular contact with the circus family over the years. Family folklore can be notoriously inaccurate or embellished, but finding the memorial plaque, one family’s treasured momento, in the possession of the other adds some credence.

I constructed the following diagram from family charts to look for further clues – it assumes the two lines are connected through William SOALL.

image2.gif (6657 bytes)

The answer could lie in the relationship between George and Goodman Sole. Both were close in age (born in 1797 and 1796 respectively), their villages were relatively close, and this scenario would have them as second cousins. George was transported to Australia and his son Thomas subsequently joined him there. Goodman’s sons Edward and Daniel emigrated to Australia. All went to New South Wales, and if the relationship did exist it would not be surprising for the two families to renew contact there.

There is nothing conclusive in all this – just conjecture. But it may provide another piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

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