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

SOLE Co-ordinator's Report August 2003

(Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire)

By Bob Sheldon  

From my postbag during the past few months I am pleased to say that one or two of our members have been making some useful progress in their researches or at least have given themselves more leads to follow as a result of their findings.

Through the research carried out by Geoff Knott we are confident that we have been able to merge two of our larger Sussex families. Geoff described in his article in the April 2003 Journal how he found his way to the parish registers of Steep in Hampshire which had not been previously researched. The results of his efforts identified the baptism of Richard SOAL in 1739 about whom, up to then, we knew only that he had married Sarah BOXALL at Harting in Sussex (about 5 miles from Steep) in 1768. Richard and Sarah headed our largest Sussex family group and much previous research had been carried out on the family by Lizzie Love.

Now we are reasonably sure that Richard’s parents were John and Ann (née RESTALL) SOAL who were married at Steep in 1734. John’s parents were Augustine and Mary (née EAMES) and he was baptised at Midhurst in Sussex in 1717. This information provided the link to another of our Sussex families headed by Edward and Jane (née AUSTEN) SOLE who were married at Heyshott in Sussex in 1681. These were the parents of Augustine (or Austen). So we are grateful to Geoff for his efforts at Steep and his ongoing researches at the Hampshire County Record Office in Winchester.

Diana Jones, Jennifer Ball and new member Christine Thompson have been getting their heads together trying to unravel a mystery concerning one of their common ancestors. James SOLE was born in 1846 at Woodnesborough in Kent. He married Martha Louisa AUSTIN in 1870 at Camberwell (still then in Kent but now in South London) and they had four children, Louisa, James, William and Rosa. In 1881 the census records the family living at St George in the East, London but there the mystery starts.

James is recorded as Thomas aged correctly as 35 and his place of birth is stated as Sandwich, Kent which is very close to Woodnesborough. He is also said to me unmarried but living with his four children as their father.

No trace was found in the census index for his wife Martha Louisa SOLE, neither have we found a death registered for her. In 1882, the four children were baptised at St Peters, London Docks with their father shown as Thomas. Then in the 1891 census the family is living at Wapping, London with James as father, Caroline as mother and the four children. Interestingly, says Jennifer, at the same address in 1881, but different household, there is a Caroline CLARK, but no trace of a marriage to Caroline has been found in the indexes. William is the grandfather of Christine and the family knowledge is that William’s mother Martha died when the children were young and for a while they were cared for in a home. Until further data is found we have to conclude that James and Thomas were one and the same, that Martha died but was registered under another name and that James was living by 1891 with his common law wife Caroline (née CLARK).

Diana Jones has had more luck with her quest for proof of the marriage between William SOLE and Hannah SMITH. William was also born at Woodnesborough, the brother of James, and like James decided to seek his fortune by moving to London. He married Hannah at Islington, London in 1864 and then seemingly moved to Cheshunt in Hertfordshire where their three children were all born. Although it is nice and convenient when our ancestors stay put, it makes our research more interesting and challenging when we have to chase them across country.

We welcome another new member, Derek Sole, who is descended from our largest Kent line and my second cousin. He also moved away from his Kent birthplace and I am hoping he will be able to fill a few gaps in our knowledge of his branch of the family. He will be surprised at how much we already know about the 1,234 (latest count) persons on our tree chart.

Phil Lynch has travelled again to Dublin recently in search of descendants of Bradley SOLE originally of Deal in Kent who went with his parents to Ireland when they emigrated in the 1820’s. Bradley followed his father (who was a boat builder in Deal) in his association with the sea by becoming a lighthouse keeper. His son John Bradley carried on the tradition into the 1880’s and Phil has obtained a copy of his service record. He also tells me he has found more descendants to add to our charts and I now await his information when he has marshalled it all together.

We have to thank Sheila MacInnes for providing us with three photos of members of the USA branch of her Sussex line which covers 14 generations from Richard and Mary (née MASTERS) SOLE of Sullington and Rustington in 1594. We hope to add these to our website gallery when we have received clearance from their immediate descendants. We are always pleased to receive photos (originals are always returned after copying) of earlier generations from members.

We also have to thank Elizabeth Hughes who while researching her father’s (Saul) ancestors in Stodmarsh church, near Canterbury, came across a memorial plaque with the following inscription:

"In Loving Memory of Ernest Albert SOLE of the East Kent Yeomanry who was one of the first to volunteer for service in South Africa. He died of fever at Standerton, age 20 on July 24 1900 whilst serving with the S A Light Force in defence of his Queen and Country."

"This Tablet and Pulpit erected to his memory by his comrades and friends 'in the midst of life we are in death'"

The Pulpit also has a brass plaque on it "In memory of E A SOLE of this Parish"

Ernest was a member of a large farming family living in east Kent. He had a cousin who also served in the army and who was also killed later in WW1. He also had five cousins who served in the navy one of whom did not survive WW1.

Now that the 1901 index of census records has overcome its initial problems on the internet, we have been able to identify some probable family relationships of which we had no previous knowledge. Our records are being updated accordingly but we would be pleased to hear from any members who have obtained actual copies of the census page with confirmation of their ancestors details. n

Return to The Sole Society Home Page