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

SOLE Co-ordinator's Report December 2006

(Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire)

By Bob Sheldon

It was nice to see six cousins at our Annual Gathering in October. 


I think this may be the largest group from one family that has ever met together at one of our events.  Jennifer Ball, with her husband Charles, Georgina Mountford with her husband Peter, Linda Brand and Bernard Jones are all regular attendees and members of this Kentish family. 


But for the first time we were very pleased to welcome Lionel Sole (see his “Memoirs of an Octogenarian” in previous copies of the journal) who came despite suffering a virus infection which regrettably prevented his wife Joy also attending.  I am sure that Lionel will not mind me divulging that he became a nonagenarian this year and despite being a little shaky in the legs for which he needs the aid of two sticks, he looks surprisingly well for his age and his memory is still very much intact.  The last, but not least, member of this family who came for the first time, having just recently joined the Society, was Eric Kennett. Lionel and Eric were the closest cousins of those present and they had not met for over 30 years, so they had much to talk over.


Colin Sole was the other member at the Gathering representing one of the Sussex families.  Colin and I felt a “little lonely” surrounded by all the cousins.   


As previously mentioned Eric Kennett has recently joined us and added a previously unrecorded extension to one of the branches of this Kentish family.  His mother was Ada Alice SOLE who married Alec Ernest KENNETT in 1930 at Maidstone but they brought up their family in Sittingbourne.  Ada was the second daughter of Alfred Charles SOLE and Alice O’KEY.  Eric and his family had always understood that his grandparents had been married in Hull where Alice’s family resided, but our records state that they were married in Thanet Kent; although as our records are based on the GRO indexes we cannot say exactly where in Thanet without obtaining the marriage certificate. Grandfather Alfred was the eldest son of Henry SOLE and Sarah GOODBAN and Henry was the youngest son of Edward SOLE and Rose Hannah DRAYSON who head up this family and are the g-g-grandparents of Eric.  


Rose Hannah Sole 1806 - 1890Linda Brand has found more photos of this same family which may soon be viewed in our web gallery.  They are in a well preserved Victorian album which has been in the possession of family member Jean RUTHERFORD for many years.  Jean is now in her late 80s and she has given the album to Linda for safe keeping.  Luckily for all concerned many of the photos are identifiable.  There is a particularly striking pose of Rose Hannah SOLE nee DRAYSON which was taken towards the end of her life in the 1880s when she would have been about 80.


Before we leave this family we sadly record the death of Kathleen Aris, the mother of member Colin Aris, who was in her 80s.  Kathleen was the eldest daughter of Ada Ellen, formerly SOLE, and her husband Walter CURTIS, and the g-g-granddaughter of Edward a Rose Hannah SOLE.  Colin says she lived a full life, from flying Tiger Moths in the 1930s to crossing the channel in high speed catamarans in the 1990s.


Another new member is Christopher Sole who was introduced to the Society by Jennifer Ball.  They are not related, as far as we know, as Christopher is descended from one of our two main Sussex families. We have traced his line back to around 1600 with reasonable probability, but we cannot say with certainty, with the help of former member Geoff Knott and his contact Kevin Reeves.  Christopher says that he has always wanted to trace his family but never knew where to start.  He had made some progress with the internet on his mother’s side but not that of his father, Kenneth SOLE, who was born in Guildford in 1923.  We have Kenneth in our records taken from the GRO indexes and we can connect him through twelve generations back to James and Margary (or Mary), nee LACETER, SOALE who married in 1640 at Ashurst, near Steyning in Sussex.  There are well over a thousand known persons connected with this family so I am sure Christopher will be happy to take it all in small doses. 


Kenneth Soal is also a member of this Sussex group, albeit in a different branch, who has recently become a member.  Kenneth’s father was Leslie Ernest SOAL who was born in 1914 at Petworth, died in 1970 at Chichester and was ten generations down from James and Margary SOALE.  Kenneth has done a lot of research already and traced his line back some six generations to his g-g-g-g-grandparents Richard and Sarah, nee BOXALL, SOAL who were married at Harting in 1768.  This family contains many examples of changes in the spelling of our name through the generations.


I am pleased to be able to welcome back Hilary Hale to membership.  She left us a year or two ago to undertake a study course which is now completed.  She says she has since rediscovered the joys of having a life other than academia and work as time now permits her “hobby” to once again become her obsession.  Hilary is connected with the other of our two main Sussex groups and a cousin of members Colin Sole and Sheila MacInnes.  This family also goes back to around 1600 with 14 generations containing nearly four hundred known descendants of Richard and Mary, nee MASTER, SOLE who were married in 1594 at East Preston, near Worthing.  If we are ever able to go back just a little further in time it is most likely that our two Sussex families would be connected.


We have a word of caution to end with this time.  A member wrote saying he had downloaded a file from the internet which showed all the children of a family in which he was interested “but the mother was wrong”. 


I discovered that we had all these children (plus one other) in our records but in two families both with the father’s name of John but with different mothers.  We have found no evidence to link these two families and until we do we feel it is better to leave them separate.  One of the dangers nowadays with information found on the internet is the acceptance of its authenticity without question.  It is well established in Genealogical Research that confirmation of any transcribed data must be made by reference to the original records before it can be treated as acceptable and even then it may not be possible to link families conclusively. 16th and 17th century parish registers rarely show the full name of the mother in baptism entries; quite often she is not mentioned at all.  The other problem often found is that these very old records are so badly faded as to be unreadable.  So we think it wise to treat transcribed date with caution and to use it as an indicator of where to look for verification.


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