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

SOLE Co-ordinator's Report November 1995

By Don Steel

Considerable progress has been made on the SOLE surname over the last year. Fred Sole and Bill Soles have completed abstracting all "SO..." entries (SOLE, SOLES, SOUL etc.) from the St Catherine's House indexes and Fred has produced very useful printouts of SOLE births, marriages and deaths: chronologically, alphabetically by Christian name, by registration districts, by mother's maiden name (births from 1912), and by spouse's surname (marriages from 1912). These checklists are already proving an invaluable aid in making and checking charts and it will be interesting to see what percentage of entries we can now account for.

The making of rough pedigrees from the Mormon International Genealogical Index, (IGI) is nearing completion for all counties for SOLE and variants, largely thanks to Tony and Maureen Storey who have taken on charting the bulk of counties with fewer (though cumulatively quite numerous) SOLE entries, while I have been continuing with the strip of SOLE “mainstream” counties from Gloucestershire to Cambridgeshire. Bob Sheldon has completed charting the Kent SOLEs in the IGI. Sussex and Hampshire are the only major counties remaining. So an­other six months or so should see all the SOLEs in the IGI in pedigree form. Checking the original entries, adding burials (and often marriages) and, of course, all the work on parishes not in the IGI (many more in some counties than in others) is quite another mat­ter. But a solid foundation will have been laid.

Fred Sole has also abstracted many SOLE entries from the 1881 Census index made by the Mormons in collaboration with the Fed­eration of Family History Societies, published county by county, on microfiche, and now nearing completion. He has also sent me many entries from the 1891 and other censuses. I have been trying to conduct a systematic search in the 1851 Census for my own earliest known SOLE ancestor, the elusive Gregory SOLE (with whom the ancestry of other members like Barbara Swinburne also grinds to a halt). Born about 1772, he sur­faced at Clifton and Henlow in Bedfordshire in the early 1800s but was “not born in the same county” in 1841 when he was at Westoning, Beds. and has not been found in the county in the comprehensive published 1851 Census index. He died in 1858 at Bozeat, Northamptonshire. In this search, I am two‑thirds of the way through the 1851 indexes to all the Northamptonshire parishes, individually indexed (and by different systems) by members of the Northants FHS. No luck so far, though a few other SOLE (or rather mainly SOUL) entries have surfaced, as have some SAULs and quite a few SEWELLs. I am also about half‑way through the 1851 Census parishes indexes for Hertfordshire produced by the University of Hert­fordshire (formerly Hatfield Polytechnic). Quite a lot of SOLE entries there, as one would expect in the county with Kelshall in it. If Gregory does not surface in the Northants and Herts indexes, Bucks, Cambs, and Hunts are next on the list.

I have at last worked on the pedigrees and source material of the Olney SOULs contributed several Years ago by John Soul of Billingshurst in Sussex and Helene Weaver.

They have come up to no less than 24 charts. The family surfaced in Olney in the early 17th century. The early Olney registers are missing, but the family probably descends from the mid‑16th century SOLE family of nearby Bromham which we know about from early Bedfordshire wills and other sources. To avoid a large and partly unnavigable loop in the Ouse, goods to be transported by river went by road from Olney to be loaded onto boats or barges at Bromham just to the west of Bedford. So there would be much communication between the two places and a con­nection between the two SOLE‑SOUL families seems highly probable. Whether we will succeed in proving it is quite a different matter.

Bill Soles has done further work on the SOLES family of Birmingham and its branches as well as some SOLES families elsewhere. Meanwhile, Tony and Maureen Storey have chipped away at some of my backlog, particularly the work on the York­shire SOLEs done by Donald Goodbrand. Tony and Maureen ‑ they have recently joined the committee ‑ have been a tower of strength to me and to the Society. I hope to phase myself out of the SOLE co‑ordinator post this year as they gradually take over more and more aspects of the work.

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