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

Messages from Readers - April 2004

This article was originally published in the April 2004 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society


From Trevor Saul

A sad, cautionary tale. My Uncle, Norman Saul of Preston, aged 54, a local government officer, together with two friends, went in one of the friendís car to the Arsenal v. Liverpool Cup final on 29th April 1950 (Arsenal 2, Liverpool 0).


They left Preston at 4am to go the 200 miles to Wembley. An inquest report says that they set off back from London at 11 pm. They stopped at several cafes and the driver had two hours sleep in the car. He kept stopping to bathe his face, but then hit a lamp standard in Warrington after my uncle in the passenger seat had shouted a warning. Norman died a few days later. The other two survived.


This sad tale was perhaps less irresponsible than it sounds to be today. Working people were just beginning to own cars. The car was probably capable of 50 mph maximum speed. Roads had not been improved since the war and many were not well lit or signposted. Car lights were poor and there were no white lines. Motoring was a novel adventure, a macho test. Route finding was difficult; you drove from town hall to town hall. There was little advice about how to drive. It is just surprising what family research reveals.


In 1953 I drove with another couple from Preston to Romford in a 1931 Standard Big Nine. We had travelling rugs and flasks. The 240 mile journey took 10 hours. We kept the car at 40 mph so as not to strain anything, but the 'third brush' dynamo packed up during the visit and we got a garage to charge the battery every night, hand cranked the car, and managed to get back to Preston in daylight and there we repaired the dynamo. I promised that I would never buy the new cars without a starting handle ! We have to live with change



From Frank Flint Soule

It has been a while since we have crossed e-mail messages. I hope all is well in England.


I am currently serving as President of the Soule Kindred in America, Inc. and I would like to reopen the dialogue between our societies for our mutual benefit in reprinting articles of interest and sharing research techniques.  I know that the surname of "Soule" has nearly died out in England but seek your thoughts regarding a research project that the Soule Kindred is undertaking.


Some time ago the "new" possible birthplace of our pilgrim George Soule was revealed as Tingrith, Bedfordshire., England. For a long time Eckington, Worcester, England was thought to be the place. The Mayflower Society has indicated that it thinks the George from there married in England thus eliminating him from our consideration. Our George did marry a Mary Bucket [Becket?] who came to America in the ship Anne in 1623.  If I remember correctly the 1594 George born at Tingrith had a father named William. My line has quite a few "Williams" as do several other American lineages. It's weak I admit but may be worthwhile.


The point of this is that we have been given a research grant to find the parents of pilgrim George and try to determine if he is connected in any way to the William Soules ["Butler of Scotland" - whatever that was] who was a signer of the Declaration of Scottish Independence, the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320.  The Scottish family was scattered as this William betrayed Robert the Bruce in the struggle for the crown and they lost their holdings at Liddesdale.


It may be that they died out, changed names or emigrated. This is a very difficult assignment and may be near impossible. We must "give it a go" nevertheless. Does anyone know if there are yet any families still living in the Tingrith area that have a surname close to Soule, Sole,etc.?


I finally gained election to Mayflower as the 12th generation from George and was asked to participate in a Y-DNA test . The object of this project is to get a least two matching DNA subjects from America and two DNA subjects from England. I am hoping that this testing might lead to Tingrith as a birth place. If so, I could concentrate on parish records there. Other than Royal lines, which are well documented, has anyone had success in tracing lineages in England as far back as the 12th century?


Our former President, Dr. Norman Standish, made a research trip to England concerning this project and was not able to gain any new information. If I go on a second trip I will have to obtain permissions, reader's cards, etc. well in advance. I would like any comment on UK research techniques that the Sole Society could provide.


I still am involved in British military history as a grenadier. Summer activities are a caution as I got heat stroke last summer wearing wool in August.


My best to you and all members of the Sole Society.


Ed: The Soule Kindred is an active American society all of whom are descendants of George Soule who crossed on the Mayflower in 1620. The origins of George Soule remain unknown. Maureen Storey is continuing the dialogue with Frank




From Sandy - "de Sully"

There's some misleading information in your website. I'm an American researcher into the 13th and 14th century. One of my interests is in the Sully family of Iddesleigh, Petrockstow and Ashreigny in Devon, specifically in Sir John Sully, K.G. (1281-1387), a member of the Black Prince's household who served as Knight of the Shire for Dorset in late middle age, fought in every war from the early 14th century wars with Scotland to Najera in 1367, in which he won numerous commendations, and deposed in the Scrope-Grosvenor controversy at the age of 105.


Someone writing your website has confused the de Sullys of the West Country and Glamorgan with the de Sudeleys, from Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. It's easy to do, since the Sudeleys, and royal documents referring to them, often spelled their name "Sully" and the two families shared (1) a very distant mutual relationship (only by marriage) to the de Traci or Tracey family, infamous for the murder of Archbishop Thomas a Becket, and (2) the use of the common names "William" and"John". However, their coats of arms are entirely unlike. The Sudeleys derived their name from their chief English manor, "South Leigh," while the West Country Sullys brought theirs from France, probably Normandy. Also, a fairly complete family tree of the Sudeleys exists (see Cokayne), showing no connection to the Sullys.


The Garter knight's family derived its arms from those of their overlords, the Earls of Gloucester and Hertford. Sir John Sully's family were a cadet branch of the de Sullys of Sully Castle, Glamorgan, and held their Devon lands feudally from the head of that family. In Sir John Sully's youth the family chief was a cousin, Raymond, the last male heir of his line, who may never have taken knighthood and thus wouldn't have qualified as a baron under Edward I's stricter definition, although he certainly held an adequate value of land and had married a rich heiress of the ancient Earldom of Chester. Most researchers -- at least the skeptical ones! -- believe that these West Country and Glamorgan Sullys came originally from Sully in Normandy, now a suburb of Bayeux, not from the famous Sully-sur-Loire east of Orleans, although the families in France may have been related. I doubt that they were, since "Sully" or a close variant is (or was in Medieval times) the name of several villages in the northerly part of France and is likely to have been of Gaulish origin, perhaps from a personal name deriving from Sul, the sun god (or goddess). Suli and Sulien were Welsh male Christian names and St Sulien was a favored saint in South Wales. The West Country Sullys were definitely part-Welsh and frequently married into noble Welsh houses.


As for other possible connections, the illustrious Bishop of Paris in the 12th century, Henri de Sully, who began the gothic rebuilding of Notre Dame cathedral, was a peasant boy educated by the lord of Sully-sur-Loire and no relation to the Sully family. The relationship of the West Country Sullys to another Henry de Sully, Abbot of Glastonbury at the time of the "discovery" of King Arthur's bones by King Henry II, later Bishop of Worcester, is not known. It is, however, claimed by some older genealogists since this Abbot and Bishop, although infamous and detested in his lifetime, was related to the royal line of England. Glaston is in the West Country, but a family connection seems unlikely to me. The original Devon Sully was a knight named Reynold who arrived in England during the first generation after the Conquest, and who may possibly have been one of the "Twelve Conquerors of South Wales." Modern historians consider it unlikely, but later Sullys evidently believed that their claim to Sully in Glamorgan dated from the first Norman conquest of Wales. There is slight evidence that a village or parish name of "Sully" or "Suli" may have existed in that part of Wales (the shallow lowland peninsula east of Barry) before the Normans arrived, but since the name is probably of Celtic origin that isn't too surprising. The Scilly Isles were called the "Sully Isles" during the Middle Ages. They're all the same name.


I have considerable information about Sir John Sully, an important figure of the 14th century, if you are interested, and a good bibliography.


Now I'd like to make a request. I'm trying to get more information on Sir John de Soulis (or Soules), a baron of Scotland who was a prominent Scots champion in the early 14th century. The genealogies indicate an entirely separate Norman origin for the Soulises and Sullys, and there's no known intermarriage after the families came to Britain. So I'm really curious as to why, in the early 14th century, these two very distant families shared the same coat of arms --if the Soulis arms portrayed in my copy of Gray's Scalacronicon are indeed correct. Perhaps the armorial artist who illustrated Scalacronicon made a mistake and confused the two names. I haven't been able to find a Soulis coat of arms in any of the armorial sources. Hope you can help.


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