Looking for Mary Polly Sole
from Mike Reeve
This article was published in the March 2000 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.
I read of your society and wondered if you would be able to help with a problem and also that I might be able to contribute some information on a Sole. Would you help to trace some records of a family called Sole who family tradition says came from Deptford, Kent.
The member of the 'Sole' family is Mary 'Polly' Sole, probably born in Deptford, Kent about 1855. I know little about her early life, except that her father was supposed to have been a Tanner, or had a 'Tannery' business in Dartford, Kent. Polly was my maternal Grandmother's mother who was brought up a Bowen. Not much to go on and this is only a family tale.
For me the story starts in Margate Kent where a Mary Ann 'Polly' Sole was the partner of a William Bowen a 'Monumental Mason' of Margate, Kent at the end of the 1880s. The Sole's were reputed to have money, and certainly they were better off than Polly, who at one point had to go to the 'means test' to support herself and her two children after the death of William. Certainly the income of an artisan did not compare with the family she had come from and the need to support some of William's children of his earlier marriage.
Most of William's first family's children had by all accounts already left home or were in their teens by the time Polly came on the scene in Margate. Later when 'Polly' had moved to Minster on Sheppey after William took a job as a 'Dockyard Stone Mason' in Sheerness dockyard, Polly was left some money, possibly on the death of a Sarah Sole. Perhaps this Sarah was an Aunt or even her mother, certainly she was an older woman, from the 'Sole' family.
The amount was not specified, but it was enough to buy a settee and chairs. My grandmother said that an old lady visited her mother at Minister, Sheppey and said " Polly I won't forget you". Her mother was crying at this. It was later that the bequest came through. The inference was that the old lady was from off the Island.
There were a number of 'Sole' families on Sheppey and they seemed to be members of a 'Congregational Church' this may explain some 'prim, fastidious and proper' aunts who came to visit my grandmother, but as far as I know the 'Soles' of Sheerness were not related to Polly. Sole I believe to be a Kent name and therefore may be common to the area.
Mary 'Polly' died 8th September 1925, on Sheppey Kent, aged 70. She was buried in the cemetery at Minster, Sheppey along side William Bowen as Mary Bowen. It is a long shot but do you have any records of Soles in Deptford at that period. I have yet to get any details from trade directories or census records. These will be my next area of search.
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