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

Appledore's Oldest Inhabitant

by Diana Jones

This article was originally published in the December 2003 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society

George SoleLast June we had a foray to Barnstaple Public Records Office to research some of my “lost” Ford relatives. Whilst there I asked my stalwart Assistant, husband Bernard, if he would look at the Bideford and North Devon Gazette to see if he could find an obituary for my Great Grandfather George Sole. George was the eighth child of eleven children born in Woodnesborough, Kent to Edward and Rosanna Sole. I knew George had died in Appledore, North Devon and thought, if lucky, we may perhaps find two or three lines.

You can imagine the excitement at finding the following dated January 1934.

“The funeral of Captain George Sole of New Quay, Appledore, whose death we recorded on Thursday, took place on Saturday afternoon, the Vicar Rev. H.C.Muller officiating. The deceased, who had reached the advanced age of 93, and was the oldest sailor in Appledore, was a native of Woodnesborough, Kent. At an early age he was apprenticed to the old sailing brigs of the East Coast. Finding the living hard, he left the brigs and joined the late Captain Walter Henry Lesslie of Appledore, who at that time commanded the famous sailing barque “St George”. Strangely enough on his arrival at Appledore, the barque capsized on the Ferry Rock at Beara’s Slip, and by the aid of horses it was raised again as the tide receded.

The deceased reached Appledore at the early age of 20 and shortly afterwards married Miss Catherine Cousins, and had three children, two of whom survive him; Mr John Cousins Sole, retired Carpenter of H.M. Royal Navy at Devonport and Mrs Fanny Lobbett residing at Portsmouth. For 36 years, a long period, he commanded the sailing ship “Pomona” belonging to the late Mr Edward Lemon, and then the “Falcon”. He was a very quiet man and respected by all. He married his second wife, Mrs Rachael Taylor the widow of Captain Taylor, who was drowned at sea and Mrs Sole survives her husband”.

Miss Barrington presided at the organ at the funeral, and the hymns “Eternal Father” and “Jesu, Lover of my Soul” and “Peace, Perfect Peace” were sung, and the Nunc Dimittis was chanted. The Vicar gave an impressive address and referred to the relatives in Kent. Mr Rowland Russell read the lesson and offered a prayer at the graveside. Dr Valentine, Vicar’s warden was present”

The obituary then goes on to list everyone at the funeral including his stepsons, his eldest daughter Fanny and husband, my Grandfather Ford, several Uncles and numerous other relatives and friends at the time, as well as a comprehensive list of the wreaths sent by mourners. Also mentioned was George’s niece Jenny from Kent whom I have yet to trace.

Through this obituary I have discovered his age on arrival in Appledore, the reason he came to Devon, the ships he sailed on, his quiet nature, his friends and other relatives at the time of his death. Although I was aware of his marriage to Catherine Cousins and the number of children they had, the biggest surprise of all was his second marriage to Rachael Taylor. We had long suspected a second marriage but could find no proof.

I am sure most members of the Sole Society have already researched obituaries, but if not do have a go. I would have saved many hours of research if I had only looked for this long ago. I now intend researching the ships my Great Grandfather sailed on and look for his niece Jenny to see where she may have fitted into the tree. The sheer delight, if that is the right word, of seeing the information on the written page was quite overwhelming. Although sad reading I did feel it brought the past to life and that I know him a little better.

Encouraged by this I went on to find my Grandfather, Walter Henry Ford’s obituary, but that is another story!!

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