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

A Visit to Plymouth, New England

By Brian Sewell

This article was originally published in the December 2000 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.

I was recently in Plymouth and did several of the usual tourist things, including going around Mayflower II (the reproduction of the original boat) and visiting the interesting Pilgrim Hall Museum. Amongst it's many exhibits were:

[1] A porcelain teapot dated 1775-1780 belonging to the Soule family

[2] An example of a New England chair made by Plymouth carpenter David Saywell in 1672, said to be one of the first pieces of furniture made locally.

I also had a quick look in the local phone directory, finding 4 Soule or Soul entries, 3 Sewalls & 1 Sewell.

Later on in the same trip I visited The Boston Society museum in the Old State House, Boston. As expected, there are several references to judge Samuel Sewell who presided over the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Less well known is that he had a brother, Major Stephen Sewell who apparently played a significant part in capturing pirates who were a great nuisance along the coastal states of America at the time. For those of us who have roots in Essex it was interesting to see a census in Massachusetts in 1775 stating the population of their Chelmsford & Billericay at the time was 49 & 54, respectively. Bizarrely, there is a Middlesex County MA!

Finally, Sewell's Point, Virginia, features in the American Civil War. Firstly, on the 3rd August 1861, a John Lamountain made the first ascent in a balloon from the Union ship "Fanny" at Hampton Roads to observe Confederate batteries on Sewell's Point. On March 27th in the following year, there was a fierce battle between the two navies off Sewell's Point, which is graphically recounted in a report by Flag-Officer Franklin Buchanan that can be seen at:

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