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

Learch with Care

From Peter Foreman

This article was originally published in the December 2001 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.

Peter saw this article in The Devon Family Historian and the author, Michael Sandover, has kindly agreed that we may reproduce it.

This is a simple piece of advice (or warning) for those researching family names beginning Sa, Se, Si, So or Su. If you cannot find the entry that you are seeking in indexes to the census returns or other 19th century material, then look under the corresponding name spelt with a capital ‘L”. The problem arises because of the way the Victorians wrote the capital letter ‘S”. It often looks like a capita! “L”.

I discovered the problem by accident when researching my wife’s family. Despite seeing several birth and marriage certificates, as well as census returns, we still couldn’t tell whether he was a Lawyer or a Sawyer. We only discovered the truth (a sawyer) when we visited the cottage in which he lived. The current owner pointed us to a book published of the childhood memories of one of the sons, which gave us the answer as well as much else besides.

That discovery set me thinking. From the index of the 1881 census, I was missing quite a number of Sandovers. A quick look under Landover gave me most of those “missing”. That is not an isolated case. The excellent work being carried out on the 1891 census has approximately a third of the Sandovers transcribed and indexed under Landover. Even the DFHS index of post 1837 of Plymouth has one Landover entry and I suspect that the problem could be quite widespread.

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