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

SOLE Co-ordinator's Report August 2007

by Maureen Storey  


The last few months have been very quiet with generally few new enquiries but in this journal we welcome new member Sarah Murray.


Sarah is researching the family of her grandmother, Clara Minnie Sole, who was born in Eyeworth, Bedfordshire, in 1895. Clara was the daughter of carpenter George Sole and Amelia Gregory. George's family had been in the Wrestlingworth/Eyeworth area since the early 1700s, and prior to that the family appears in the records of Stotfold, Bedfordshire, and its neighbouring parishes. The earliest confirmed record we have for them is the marriage of William Soule and Agnes Clare in Stotfold in 1624. It has been suggested that this William is the son of William Soule and Joan Allen who married in Henlow in 1605, but if so he was only about 19 at his marriage. However, as Joan Sole (nee Allen) died in 1612 it could also be the elder William marrying again.


Tara Sole sent us a copy of a poster and article advertising the performances by the Sole Brothers Circus that were part of the first Festival of Sydney in 1977. As well as detailing some of the acts the poster proudly announces that the event marks the 101st year of continuous performances for the circus. Tara's husband is descended from the circus family and she has been looking for circus memorabilia and information. We have been able to give her some further details on the family.


Member Colin Sole has sent us some tantalising information on Edward Sole, grocer of London. Edward crops up in court records several times in the early sixteenth century, usually in connection with debts and seems to have been quite litigious. He appears in the archives six times between 1505 and 1535, three as a creditor and three times as a debtor, though when a creditor it would seem he could be unscrupulous as he was on one occasion charged with enticing a servant to give him bonds belonging to her employer.


Leigh Paintin emailed to ask if we had any information on his ancestor John W Sowells, whose son Marian was born in 1862 in Williamson County, Illinois. Although our database of American families is growing slowly, at present we have no details on Sowells families and so were unable to help. I suggested to Leigh that she contacted the Soule Kindred of America to see if they have any information on the family.


Charlotte Mitchell wrote to the Society to ask if we had any information on Alice Soole, b 1870. A couple from New Zealand has recently given the English Department of University College London a medal that the college had awarded to Alice in 1892 for her outstanding performance as a student. The couple had said that as far they were aware they had no family connection with Alice.


Charlotte was hoping to learn more about Alice and her family and to find out what had happened to her and how the medal ended up in New Zealand. I was able to tell her a little about Alice's father George Soole and her brothers George and Frederick Watson Soole but I was unable to find any definite trace of Alice herself after the 1891 census. From the information we gave her, the records of University College, and what she could glean from the Internet (the family announcements in the Times proved particularly useful), Charlotte was able to piece together Alice's story. Alice passed her BA English exams in 1892 and went on to train as a teacher. In 1911 at the age of 41 she married the Rev. George Harold and then in 1921 George was appointed vicar of the parish of Amberley and Leithfield in the diocese of Christchurch, New Zealand. The couple both died in New Zealand: Alice in Canterbury in 1942 and George in Christchurch in 1945. has recently added passenger lists for vessels leaving the UK between 1890 and 1919 to their website. The lists give little information that helps in identifying the passengers, generally just surname, initial or forename, sometimes age, the port of embarkation and the destination. However, if an individual has a less common forename or a family travels together identification is possible and I've been able to solve the mystery of what happened to some of the people who disappear from the record in the UK. For example, Robert Wildred Soul was born in Liverpool in 1858. By 1891 he was married to Charlotte and they had three children, Harry, Gilbert and Arthur but they couldn't be found in the 1901 census. The passenger lists showed that the family left Liverpool for New York in 1900.


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