By Don Steel and Daphne Wright.
This article was originally published in the April 1995 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.
In the first of the All Souls Collage articles in the last jourrial, I showed how SELL was a characteristically Hertfordshire name, possibly derived from SELE on the outskirts of Hertford where my brother lives. In fact in Hertfordshire, SELL, SALE and SOLE appear in many of the same parishes and our collection includes some SELL charts. Henry Sell of Bassingbourne married Bridget Tempest, descended through a co‑heiress from the Norman Barons De Umfraville. Henry and Bridget's great granddaughter Mary Leete Smyth married William Sale of Hinxworth, Herts. Clutterbuck's History and Antiquities of the County of Hertford mentions John Sell of Ashwell, Herts, Mercer who died in 1618 leaving bequests to the poor of the parish.
Just over the border at Elmdon, Essex. Fred's ancestor Matthew Sole was baptised in 1707 and his elder brother in 1703. In 1700 and 1702 there were children of Benjamin Soll or Sell baptised. So the SALEs, SOLEs and SELLs are really quite a tangle.
I have now heard from Daphne Wright who has done a great deal of work on the North Hertfordshire SELLs. She says:
I have been trying to find a link between the Ashwell and Hirixworth SELL family and the families in Sandon and Ardeley (then Yardley). There is also an interesting link between the FITZJOHN family and Sussex Sell of Ashwell. Sussex Sell left his property to a Fitzjohn of Baldock, but I have not been able to establish a connection. I have found the deaths of his children with the exception of a daughter, Mary. Did she marry Fitzjohn? I cannot find an entry in any register round and about.
And on variants:
I wondered about the SOLE and SELL connection if any. I also have a pet theory that the SELL and SALE families were connected. In some of the villages, for instance Hinxworth and Wallington, the SALEs appeared when the SELLs disappeared or so it seems at a cursory glance. Having regard to North Herts speech, I think it is entirely likely that SELL got written down as SALE. The handwriting Cs and Ss of earlier times do get confused (e.g. SOLE and COLE) and I have wondered about this too.
Clearly, Daphne is wrestling with the same kind of variant problem as we are, and although SELL is a marginal interest for us there is obviously an overlap of interest. Like Philip Lloyd on SHOLL, we hope Daphne will feel this is enough to make it worthwhile joining The Sole Society and tap into and feed our database. For our part, Geoff has not as yet fed the SELLs into the database, but as can be seen from our variants chart it has always been his intention to do so, and having recently completed feeding in the SALEs from the IGI, he is giving the SELLs a high priority.
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