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

The SHOLL Variant

by Philip LLoyd

This article was originally published in the July 1993 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society

Like Mrs Elizabeth White I am not at all sure that my SHOLL family of Cornwall is in any way connected with SOLE, as she claims her SAWLE ancestors are not, but unlike her I decided that maybe we can find out more easily within the Society than outside it. 

I have been doing family history for about 25 years but until two years ago I was a stationer and sub‑postmaster at a busy Manchester suburban office, so research was confined to annual (short) holidays. However, during that time I was able to compile a good deal of information with the help of my cousin Keith Sholl in Cornwall, Shirley Lancaster in Toronto and various correspondents in other parts of the world.

There are two main trees, each with over 350 names, going back over 300 years, and both with their earliest names in the parish of Kenwyn, near Truro, Cornwall. Then, a few years ago, Sir Reginald SHOLL, a High Court Judge in Australia was knighted and tried with the help of the College of Heralds to find a link between his line and an armigerous SHOLL in the 15th century in order to take the same arms. He failed, but in the process he found the link between his line and mine in Kenwyn. We are descended from two brothers, the sons of Richard SHOLL baptised c.1610, and his wife Amy HANLEY. Richard himself was the son of William, baptised c.1640 and Jane ROBERTS, and the grandson of Richard baptised c.1610.

These two trees account for about 70% of all SHOLLS recorded. Another 15% (over 120 names), belong to a family which stem from Taunton, Somerset, the top of the tree being a Samuel SHOLL born 28th January 1772 of a family who, according to his own account, had been serge‑weavers there "from time immemorial". His son John, moved to London and became a silk‑weaver in Spitalfields.

The earliest SHOLL records we have, are from the parish of St. Miniver, near Padstow, North Cornwall. They are from the time of Elizabeth I, with one as far back as 1500. We have a theory, yet to be proved, that some of the family moved west to Kenwyn, at the time that the tin­mining industry was booming, while others moved "up country" to Taunton.

Apart from the modern spelling SHOLL, the more common spellings up to about 1820 were SHOLE and SHOAL. Other spellings were SHOL, SHOLLE, SHOWLE, SHOALL, SHOALE, SHOULE, SHOOLE, SCHOLLS, SHOELL, SHULL, SHOILE and SCHOYLE. It is possible that some of the Gloucestershire SHOWELL name have been confused with SHOLL from time to time, given their proximity to Somerset, but we can be reasonably certain that there is no connection with the Lancashire SCHOLES or the continental SCHOLL, in spite of being regularly mis‑spelled that way in modern times due to Dr SCHOLL and his "Foot Comfort Services". The only exception being in the USA where some German SCHOLLS have settled and some of them have dropped the 'C'. 

There is one family in England too, in the Liverpool‑St Helens area, who are from the continent. They were originally Lithuanian Jews who came here about the beginning of this century. Their original name was, I think, SHOL(L)INSKI and they dropped the ending.

I also have some small 19th and 20th century trees for families in Blean near Canterbury; Plymouth, Devon and the London area which will probably tie up with the big charts eventually. Worldwide, I know of SHOLLS in Canada, U.S.A., South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and in March this year, my sister and I went to Australia and met some of them. Some had ancestors who went out to the Victoria goldfields in the 1840's when tin‑mining got bad in Cornwall, and some had ancestors who were among the first to colonise Western Australia when the Swan River Colony was founded in 1829.

Where does all this leave me in relation to the Sole Society? When the Guild of One Name Studies was formed, I registered SHOLL with them and have been to many of their annual conferences and have received great help from them and from the Journal, not least through being able to meet and correspond with like‑minded people. I am sure the Sole Society will perform the same service for those within its more limited sphere and I look forward to helping and being helped by many people as a result of membership, whether or not my names connect with any others in the Society.

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