MEETING THE FAMILY IN NEW ZEALAND
by Geoff Sole
This article was originally published in the April 2008 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
I arrived at Auckland Airport on 16th October 2007 with my wife Carol. Our extended holiday had already taken us to Hong Kong, Brisbane and Sidney, but as a last port of call before we returned home we felt that we could not come so close to New Zealand and not pay our respects to the country where our ancestor cousins arrived to build their new home all those years ago.
We hired a car and drove the 170 miles (it took longer than we expected) down to New Plymouth which was the destination of the Sole family following four months spent at sea after they had sailed from Kent in 1841.
Although Pat Sole is now well into his eighties, he made us very welcome. Carol and I had met Pat, his daughter and his granddaughter some ten years ago during their last trip to England, when they visited my sisterís pub in South Wales. Pat and I are direct descendants from Edward and Mercy Chittenden via their sons Edward and James. Edward sadly died quite young but his wife Susannah and her new husband Richard Foreman with seven of her sons from Edward, all decided to emigrate to start their new life in New Zealand. James decided to remain in Kent to be the head of a long line of descendants of which I am one.
Next morning found us feeling very much refreshened and Pat and his friend Robyn invited us to a local restaurant called The Bach where we were greeted by about thirty of the Sole family who had been invited in our honour. It was wonderful to think they had put themselves out to do this for us. By the end of our stay we had met about fifty of the family.
We spent a lovely nine days touring round with Pat and Robyn. We were shown where our ancestors had landed and the church they had all helped to build. We also visited David Street where David Sole, Susannahís third son, gave some land for the first hospital to be built in New Plymouth.
We left New Zealand having met many family members and made lots more friends. It made us both very proud to think the Sole family had done so much in helping to build their wonderful country.
1- Gravestone of Richard White Foreman and his wife Susannah, formerly Sole
2 - The beach where the Sole family came ashore in 1841
3 - Some of the Sole family who made us so welcome.
4 - Pat and Robyn Sole
5 - Carol and I beneath Mount Taranaki which dominates the New Plymouth area.
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