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




By Dianna Kennedy


This article was originally published in the April2 010 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society



SIR JOHN MAJORThe Society of Genealogists recently published an article detailing the ancestry of Sir John Major, prime minister from 1990 to 1997. The article concentrated mainly on his paternal line and only briefly mentions his Sewell ancestors. I was pleased to see that the Sewells mentioned generally accorded with the Sole Society records, whilst supplying the occasional missing date.


John Major was born the 29th March 1943 at St Helier, Surrey. His parents were Abraham Thomas Ball and Gwendolen Minnie neť Coates. Abraham was an actor and garden ornament maker who took the name of Tom Major. It is through his motherís line that we can trace the Sewell name. Gwendolen Minnie Coates was the daughter of Harry Sewell Coates and Ada Florence neť Moore.


Maternal Grandparents Harry Sewell and Ada Coates


Harry Sewell Coates, was born 9th March 1881, at Sutterton, in Lincolnshire, his parents were David Coates and Emma neť Sewell. Harry married Ada Florence Moore on 29th April 1902 Woodhouse, Yorkshire. In the 1901 and 1911 census Harry was a grocery shop assistant probably in the family business. The 1911 census shows the family living in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire (Lin). Harry is 29, Ada 34 and daughter Gwendolen age 5 together with the mother of Ada, Lucy Ann Moore. Harry Sewell Coates died 20th May 1934 in Gainsborough. Ada had died two years earlier on 28th January 1932.


Great Grandparents David and Emma Coates


Emma Sewell, was baptised 16th January 1842 in Stickford Lin, the daughter of Jonas and Eliza, she married David Coates on 11th July 1872 Leake, Lin. In 1881 David and Emma were living in Sutterton; Lin. David was a tailor and draper from Frieston, Lin. They already had a son Harry Sewell who had been born 9th March of that year. Also living with the family was Davidís sister Jane Maria who like Emma was a dressmaker. They were also able to employ a domestic servant and had two apprentices.


By 1891 the family had moved to Kirton in Lincolnshire and David was the managing publican of the Wheatsheaf Inn. There was also a sister for Harry, Minnie aged five. By 1901 David Coates had once more changed occupations and was a grocer shopkeeper with Harry as his assistant. (I had some difficulty finding the family in the 1901 census on as Coates had been transcribed as ESAKE)


David died 11th May 1909 in Leeds, Yks; Emma lived on and died 9th March 1931 in Gainsborough, Yks


Great-Great Grandparents Jonas and Eliza Sewell


Jonas Sewell son of James and Mary was baptised 26th December 1818 in Stickford, Lin., Jonas married Eliza Mills on 29th October 1838 in Old Leake, Lin. In 1841 Jonas is living in Stickford with Mary aged 20 and Naomi aged just one. His occupation is given as Grocer and Draper.


By 1851 still in Stickford Jonas now includes in his occupation as druggist, as well as grocer and shopkeeper, and states he was born in West Keal, which borders Stickford. By then Jonas and Eliza had two more daughters, Emma aged 9 and Maria aged one. The family had also acquired a house servant as well as a lodger, his brother Francis age 31, and whose occupation is pig dealer.


Their eldest daughter Naomi aged 11 was staying with her grandparents John and Frances Mills, who farmed in nearby Leake.

The 1861 census shows Jonas and Eliza both 43years and Jonas now gives his occupation as cattle dealer as was his brother Henry who was then lodging with the family. Naomi now aged 21 and Emma aged 19 are both dressmakers plus a sister Ellen age 6. There is no sign of daughter Maria.


Naomi in 1868 married George Ward a grocer and draper born in West Keal. The 1871 census shows Naomi is helping out in the business as a milliner and dressmaker.


By 1871 and still in Stickford, Jonas aged 52, Emma aged 29 and sister Ellen aged 16 are also both at home with their mother Eliza aged 53. Jonas and his brother Henry, who is still living with the family, are both pig and skin dealers.


Jonas died in 1879 and was buried on the 10th March at Stickford. Eliza lived on in Old Leake   and in 1891 was visiting her daughter, son in law and their ten children. Ellen had married Thomas Hipkin a farmer in 1876. Eliza died 27th January 1897.


Great-Great-Great Grandparents James and Mary Sewells


The 1841 census for Stickford, Lin. shows James Sewells a farmer aged 50 with Mary also aged 50 and John aged 8. The IGI shows that a James Cewell was baptised 15th May 1796 at West Keal, parents James and Sarah. West Keal borders on Stickford and this could possible be Jamesí parents.


James and Mary had several children in Stickford according to the IGI. The eldest, Jonas was baptised 26th December 1818, Francis baptised 2nd April 1820, George 3rd September 1821, Maurice 18th May 1823, Urias 23rd January 1825, buried 1st December 1826, and Maria 21st April 1827 who died in 1847 age 20, buried 25th May. There was also another Urias baptised 22nd July 1837 who died aged 13years in 1850, buried 5th July and Hannah Eliza baptised in 24th October 1841.


Later census records show that Jonas also had a brother Henry born about 1820 who died aged 58 in 1878, buried 20th August.


Burial records show that James Sewells died in 1846, buried 7th May aged 47 and Mary was buried 9th August 1848 aged 49. Both were buried in Stickford. 


James Sewells

abt 1800 -1846



abt 1800 -1848




Jonas Sewell



Eliza Mills





David Coates



Emma Sewell





Harry Sewell Coates



Ada Florence Moore





Abraham Thomas Ball

(Tom Major)



Gwendolen Minnie Coates





John Major


Norma C E Johnson





Return to The Sole Society Home Page