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

Chairman's Report August 2010

by Ian Sewell




The Sole Society 2010 AGM was held at the Fairmile Arms in Cobham on October 10th and whilst the number attending were disappointing, a good time was had by all.


Our talk, given by Ken Griffin, was on Transportation with a special emphasis on our names of interest. Following a short introduction about the history of Transportation and the types of crimes it was used for Ken went through the individuals he had in his database with our surnames. As expected the largest number was Sewells with Soles in runner up position. I will not detail any of the names found but Tony Storey, as the research coordinator, later came to an agreement with Ken so that the society could gain access to all this information. This data will not be on general release as it is the copyright of Ken but the details will soon be with the surname co-ordinators whom I am sure will be trying to fit these criminals into existing families if possible. We do know for certain that the few Solleys that Ken had will fit in as they mostly came from the Solley heartland of Ash and Ramsgate. I am also sure that some of these stories will find their way into articles for future journals.


Maureen Storey Looks at Ken Griffen's Database

Maureen Storey Looks at Ken Griffen's Database


Following Ken’s talks we broke for lunch and some of us took the opportunity to enjoy the bright sunshine for a quick walk or a trip to the adjacent pub.


This was followed by the AGM so that as much time as possible could then be given to name groups and investigation of Ken’s database. First it was my proud duty to present Tim Soles with a commemorative gift in honour of his 10 years as journal editor. In the years that Tim has been in charge of the journal it has won many awards and has been the centre piece of the society and I would like to thank Tim again for all his hard work.


Tim Soles with his commemorative gift

Tim Soles with his commemorative gift


I then made a brief chairman’s report. The Annual Gathering is a great opportunity to meet other members of the society researching the same name and so exchange information and also listen to an interesting talk. So we were disappointed to only have 23 members attending this year albeit including one member who came by public transport from Manchester! If any of you who don’t come have any suggestions for changes which would make you attend please let us know. We have also seen a reduction in membership since our peak in 2006. I think the reasons for this include the wearing off of the novelty of the television p r o g r a m m e “Who do you think you are?”, our own efficiency at helping members who then decide not to renew membership and the general impression that societies such as ours are redundant as “it’s all on the internet now”. We are not alone in this though, as many of the large county societies are losing vast numbers of members and some smaller societies have folded. I am glad to say that we are nowhere near this position but it does give cause for concern. Again I asked if anyone had any ideas for increasing membership given that we have such a good web site and have advertised in all the usual places such as Family History magazine.


A brief discussion followed. Bob Sheldon then gave us the exact numbers of the society currently 228 compared to last year’s 235 with further break down by names and areas. Bob Solly then presented the accounts for 2009 which were published in April’s edition. We continue to have a healthy balance and Bob did not feel that an increase in membership dues was required , which was endorsed by all.


Following Tim's resignation as editor I have taken up the position pro-tem until a replacement is found. In this I will be assisted by Rosemary Bailey who will be performing the typesetting of the journal and I will cover all the other areas. As such I made a plea for articles, no matter how short, or even just interesting photographs that would be relevant to the society.


It then came time for the re-election of the committee and all positions were filled by their incumbents with out opposition, with the position of Editor currently vacant. I then opened up the meeting to any other business. A few questions were raised including whether the committee though we could save costs by sending the journal electronically to its members. This has been discussed before but the committee is not in favour of this. The journal is something tangible that the members get for their subscription. I also pointed out that in the publishing industry the moving to a “electronic only” version invariably leads the closure of the publication a short while later. We are not in this position and do not want to give out this message to our members.


With no further business to discuss I brought the meeting to a close and everyone broke into their name groups. Bob Sheldon’s Soles immediately claimed the tables outside in the garden which was a smart move given the lovely weather and the rest of us split up into our name groups inside or spent time with Ken looking at his database.


The Sole Group in Discussion

The Sole Group in Discussion


I would at this point like to thank Ken not only for his talk but the interest he showed in the society and for staying all day so that members could have a look at his database.


Close to 4pm the meeting drew to a close. I will now put my Editors hat on and ask for your support in providing articles for the journal. Even if you have never done one before please feel free to have a go. The next deadline for articles is the 28th February so go on give it a go.


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