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

SOLE Co-ordinator's Report - November 1996

By Maureen Storey

Since volunteering to help with the charting of SOLEs, Tony and I have been looking at those counties outside the main SOLE centres of interest. The charts we've compiled were initially based entirely on the IGI but we have now begun to expand them using other sources.

In Cornwall the usual variant of the name is SOWEL(L). It occurs mostly in the south-west of the county, particularly in the Roseland Peninsular and in and around Falmouth. The charts for this area include two large families: one descended from Richard Sowell and Elizabeth Wilburne who married in Falmouth in 1684; the other descended from John Sowell and Sarah Gilbert who married in 1805 in St Keverne. We haven't established if there is a link between these families or if they are related to John and Elizabeth (nee Bryant) Sowell who appear in St Keverne in 1837. The only other Cornish charts of significance are centered on Truro and begin with the marriage of William Sowell and Lucy Resuggan in 1784

Although there are SOLE entries on the IGI scattered throughout Devon, the only concentration of the name appears around Plymouth where John Sole had seven children baptised between 1786 and 1798, five by his first wife (Alexandrina Mitchener) and two by his second (Mary Gent). Some of their descendants were still in the area in 1881.

There are very few IGI SOLE entries for Somerset, while Dorset is the only county in England for which there were no entries at all. It still remains to be seen whether this is because the name really is very rare in these counties or because of its poor coverage on the IGI.

There are no shortages of entries in the IGI for Norfolk and Suffolk where the most common variants are SOWEL(L) in Norfolk and the north of Suffolk and SOLE in the south of Suffolk, but there is at present only one chart of any size. Many events have been recorded in the numerous churches of Norwich but it hasn't proved possible to build extensive family trees from them. The largest chart we have for Norfolk and Suffolk begins with the marriage of Jno Sowell and Susan Fulchar in Lowestoft in 1708. The family disappears from the IGI after the baptism of 20 of their great-grandchildren between 1760 and 1780. However this family used the name Fulchar as a forename so it seems likely that the Thomas Fulcher Sowell, son of James N. Sowell, master mariner, whose birth was registered in Yarmouth in 1880, will prove to be one of their descendants although the exact link has yet to be established.

There are many early entries in the IGI for Lincolnshire but verv few later ones. The only extended families we have, stem from Crowland and Colsterworth in the late eighteenth century and early-nineteenth century respectively. By 1881, the former have spread into Yorkshire and the latter into Leicestershire. The IGI records some scattered events in the other East Midlands counties (that is, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland and Nottinghamshire) but no concentrations of the name.

In the East Riding of Yorkshire there is a nest of SOOLEs in the parishes on and around Spalding Moor, spreading east towards Hull. With the help of information from Donald Goodbrand we now have several charts for this area. It isn't yet clear how (or if) the families in these parishes are inter-related. Again there are scattered events recorded throughout the rest of Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland but no large family groups.

The IGI reveals no large family groups in the North West. The vast majority of events in Lancashire occur in the nineteenth century in the towns and are presumably a result of migration as the area became industrialised. The same pattern is repeated in Cheshire, Warwickshire and Shropshire. There are a couple of early families in Staffordshire, at Stafford and Burton-on-Trent, but they disappear from the IGI by the early-eighteenth century.

There are no SOLE entries in the IGI for Wales and only a handful for Scotland.

Many of the SOLE entries in the 1881 census index have now been charted as well. Unfortunately, because there are very few IGI entries after 1837 there is too large a time span between the two sources for us to be able to place many of the 1881 SOLEs on the charts compiled from the IGI. Our long term aim is to extract the SOLE references from the 1851 indexes that have been compiled by the county family history societies. However, these are not as readily available as the 1881 index, so it will be a gradual process and we would be grateful for help. If any member has bought or has access to any of the 1851 indexes for anywhere in the UK, would you please check to see if any SOLEs (and variants) are listed. It would be appreciated if you could provide the relevant census extract for us, but if that isn't possible just the index entry would be gratefully received. Please also let us know if there are no SOLE entries in any index; as that area can then be deleted from the search list.

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