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

SOLE Co-ordinator's Report December 2007

by Maureen Storey  


In this journal we welcome new member Lucy Tang.


Lucy posted a message on the Society's Discussion Forum asking if anyone had any information on the family of her great grandmother Elizabeth Mary Sole, who was born in Hackney in 1882 and who Lucy believed was a descendant of John Sole and Sarah Hale who married in Throcking, HRT, in 1690. This was one family I had no difficulty in recognising as Elizabeth Mary was my grandfather John Sole's older sister! Lucy and I have exchanged data on our Sole family.


We also welcome Frank Flint Soule as an individual member. Frank had been receiving a copy of Soul Search in his capacity of President of The Soule Kindred in America and wanted to keep in touch with the society now that his term of office has ended. Frank continues to search for the birth place of his ancestor George Soule of the Mayflower.


The lull in enquires in the last few months has given me the opportunity to assess where we are with our research into the larger families in the area I look after.


Taking first the UK section of the database, which covers everyone whose Sole family can be traced back to a specific UK location, our largest group is still the Kelshall family.


This starts with the marriage of John Sole and Sarah Pratt in Therfield, HRT, in 1756 and currently we know of 1908 family members. Although we have no evidence to confirm it, this John is thought to be the son of William Sole and Deborah Skegg who was baptised in neighbouring Layston in 1730 if we add in the known descendants of William and Deborah the family group grows to 2121. If, as some of our members believe William of Layston is the William, son of John Sole and Sarah Hale, who was baptised in Therfield in 1695, then our database currently includes 2684 of John Sole and Sarah Hale. The links between the Kelshall, Layston and Therfield groups cannot yet be regarded as certain. They are the obvious links because Layston and Therfield are contiguous but there are other Sole families in the vicinity, just over the Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire borders.


Moving from Hertfordshire to just over the border in Cambridgeshire, the earliest records we have of the Thriplow family are the baptisms in 1584 and 1588 of John and William Sole, sons of Valery and Lucy Sole. We currently have 356 members of this family in the database, a number that increases to 880 if we accept as seems very likely that Richard Sole (the surname later changed to Soole) who heads the Ickleton family is the Richard Sole baptised in Foxton in 1730.


Just to the north of Cambridge we find two more large families. The earlier of these trees has been traced back to William and Alys Sole whose son John lived in Stretham in the Isle of Ely in the sixteenth century. We know of 228 members of this family. Although there are lots of other Sole records in this area in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, they are fragmentary and we have not yet definitely been able to link these to the Stretham family. The first reference we have for the other large family is the marriage of William Sole and Sarah Berry in Willingham in 1763.


The early records in Bedfordshire are similarly fragmentary; they are centred around the south east corner of the county, near the Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire borders. Many of these no doubt refer to the same extended family but it is far from clear how (or if) they fit together. The largest of the Bedfordshire trees begins with marriage of William Sole and Agnes Clare in Stotfold in 1624. We have details of 460 of this couple's descendants in the database. To this we can probably add 438 descendants of Gregory Sole and Ann Woollard. Although we have not been able to find Gregory's baptism, his age and place of birth as given in the censuses place him firmly in this family. Our other large Bedfordshire family with 104 members starts in Biggleswade with the baptism of Mary, daughter of William and Mary in 1698. William's line can probably be traced back to John Sole and Elizabeth Davye, who married in Southill in 1636 though the link has not been proved.


In Buckinghamshire the 475-strong Olney family has been traced with certainty back to Cornelius Soule and Mary Walter, who married in Olney in 1690. There is some evidence from the more fragmentary records prior to this that links Cornelius to William Soul who was living in Olney in the early years of the seventeenth century.


Although we have very few Sole records for Northamptonshire one of our sizable trees has been traced back to the 1780 baptism of Samuel, the illegitimate son of Mary Sole, in Aston le Walls. Whilst we have no clues to Mary's origins, we have traced 139 of her descendants, many in the Banbury area.


In contrast Gloucestershire is awash with Sole records and several large families. The second largest of our UK-based trees with 986 members begins with the marriage of William Soul and Mary Sansom in Cirencester in 1749. To date we have been unable to identify William's origins. Both he and Mary are recorded as 'of Yanworth' at their marriage and their four children were baptised in Yanworth but we have no other Soles in the parish or immediate vicinity.


Our next largest Gloucestershire tree with 544 members starts with the marriage of John Soul and Kezia Clark in Eastington and Alkerton in 1737. The Easting baptism registers at about this time also record the families of Richard, James and William Soul and it is tempting to assume that these are John's brothers. At his marriage John is said to be 'of Cowley' and in his will Richard mentions property in Cowley. We have not found any Soul records in the parish registers of Cowley, GLS, but the Coaley (which neighbours Eastington) registers include baptism for John (1706), William (1707) and James (1713), sons of Richard Soul. Perhaps this is just a red herring but we need to check whether Coaley was also written as Cowley at this period.


Richard Soule and Ann Durbridge who married in Woodchester in 1784 head a family that currently numbers 210 individuals. Although we have not found a baptism for him in Woodbridge Richard could fit into the family of Thomas Souls, whose daughters Ann and Jane were baptised there in 1760 and 1762. Alternatively, there is a possible baptism for him in the Coaley family.


Another family that emerges in this part of Gloucestershire is that of William Souls and Sarah Budding, who married in Stonehouse in 1809. We have no clue as to William's origins, but we have details of 112 of his descendants.


Sole records are very scarce in Berkshire and we have only one tree that starts in the county, though this one does include 243 individuals. Eight children of William Sole and Ann Rose were baptised in Reading between 1790 and 1804, but by 1818 the family seems to have moved to Warwickshire. Although there are a few earlier Sole entries in the Reading records it seems unlikely that William was born there and with such a common forename it is hard see how we can pinpoint his birth, though we continue to look for clues.


In the southwest we have two trees that each comprise more than 100 family members. John Sowell married Sarah Gilbert in St Keverne, CON, in 1805. John's origins are unknown, though it seems likely that he is related to one of the Sowell/Sawell/Sawle families of the Roseland peninsular. Unlike most of the Roseland families John's descendants have kept the Sowell spelling and therefore appear in the Sole records rather than Saul ones. We have details on 105 St Keverne descendants. John Sole married Alexandrina Mitchener in Stoke Damerel in 1784. His occupation is given as 'victualler' at his daughter Mary's baptism but he seems to have prospered and three of his sons became solicitors in the Plymouth area. To date we know of 134 of John's descendants, but nothing of his origins.


William Sole and Hannah Staff head the only large Sole tree (221 members) that we have for Norfolk. They married in Tivetshall in 1775, when William is said to be 'of Dickleburgh', though no Sole records have been found in the parish. The first records we have for our biggest family (177 strong) from Lincolnshire are from Crowland, a village close to the Cambridgeshire border, where Robert Soal married Ann Scotney in 1818.


Many of the Sole families that have appeared in London in the last few centuries we have been able to trace back to villages outside the capital but there are three sizable trees whose roots are still to be discovered.


The largest of these with 462 members begins with the marriage of William Soal and Clementina Benson in Shoreditch in 1775. After their marriage William and Clementina settled in Enfield, where their nine children were baptised. . The next largest of the three (numbering 159) is the family of John and Sarah Soul, whose children were baptised in Whitechapel between 1804 and 1827. Frustratingly John died only a few years before the 1851 census which would have given us a place of birth.


The remaining group, which is 106 strong, are the descendants of John and Elizabeth Sole. The couple first appear in the West Ham registers with the baptism of daughter Elizabeth in 1824. According to the 1851 census John was born in Enfield in about 1790, which means he could have been a son of John and Elizabeth whose children were baptised there from 1794 onwards but we have not found a likely baptism for him.


We have so far been able to trace most of the Sole families that emigrated to the 'colonies' back to their roots in England but there are exceptions. The most significant of these is the family of George Soule of the Mayflower for whom we continue to collect family data. There are currently 4523 confirmed members of this family in the database. In addition we have data on the families of Ebenezer Soule and Sarah Oakley, who married in Colombia Co, NY, in 1804 (246 individuals) and William Soul and Margarita Wyngaard, who married in Linlithgo, NY, in 1761 (1142 individuals), both of whom are believed to belong to George's family though as far as I know the actual links have yet to be found. 


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