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

Sole Family Reunion in New Zealand

This article was originally published in the June 1992 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.

In 1841 Susannah Foreman her second husband, Richard White Foreman, six of the eight sons of Susannah by her first marriage to Edward Sole of St Nicholas at Wade, in the Isle of Thanet, Kent (died 1833) and six of the seven children of Richard Foreman by his first marriage, were among the earliest emigrants to New Zealand. They sailed on a Plymouth Company Ship the Oriental, to New Plymouth in Taranaki province in North Island. Over the weekend of 8-10 November 1991, 150 years later, many of the descendants of the six Sole sons of Susannah met up in a grand Sole family reunion at New Plymouth. A book was written by Faye Clark to to coincide with the event and this splendid history of this New Zealand Sole family - will he reviewed in full in the next issue of Soul Search. For those who cannot wait and who would like to obtain a copy, the title of the book is From the Marshes to the Mountain: an account of the Sole family 1791-1991. It has 350 pages, is comprehensively indexed, copiously illustrated, and costs $65NZ plus $15NZ postage from Mrs Dianne Thorstensen, 159A Govett Ave., New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Below DIANNE THORSTENSEN, who was the Secretary and one of the major organisers of the reunion tells us how it all went:

We held our reunion at the Taranaki Country Lodge, a hotel and convention centre near New Plymouth so that we could have accommodation in the same place as the functions. It was a jolly, cheerful occasion and we really felt like one large happy family. At the beginning of the weekend each of the 420 registrants received a colour coded rosette according to their line - the Sole son from whom they were descended. This made it easy to identify one another as a near or distant relative.

Our first function was dinner on the Friday night in two dining rooms which were set up especially for us. It was over by 8 p.m. when we moved to the Charolais Room for the main formal opening. We had huge fruit cakes made, one for each line, and the icing was colour coded like the rosettes. The oldest person of each line started the proceedings by cutting their cake. It was especially great to see the older members there, some had made a lot of effort and they had great pleasure in performing the cake cutting ceremony. Over the rest of the weekend we munched our way through the cakes - they were delicious and had disappeared by the end of the reunion.

Next Tom Watson, Deputy Mayor of North Taranaki District Council, opened the reunion. My father, Pat Sole, proposed a toast to Faye Clark and she replied outlining her involvement in producing the book. The reunion committee presented Faye with the original pencil drawing which appeared on the cover of the book and which they had had specially framed. We also gave her a lovely bunch of spring flowers. After the book had been launched everyone made a beeline for the Friesian Room to get their copies and of course it was the topic of conversation for the rest of the evening.

Wet weather meant the group photos had to be taken inside and the whole of Saturday morning was taken up with getting these. James's line had over 200 descendants present and our photographer was pushed to get us all in.

The sun shone briefly on Saturday afternoon so 200 people crammed into four buses to take in the sights of New Plymouth. This allowed everyone to see where the family landed, and the churches, houses, parks and cemeteries of significance to the Sole family. On Saturday night everyone was on time at 7 p.m. for a delicious buffet dinner and then we let our hair down with some excellent dance music from a local band, the Freeway.

Sunday morning dawned very wet but at 9.15 a.m. the sun peeped through and we were able to enjoy the ceremony to unveil the coat of arms and plaque we had placed on the grave of Susannah and Richard Foreman, although like our ancestors we were eaten by sandflies! The inscription read 'Richard White Foreman 1797-1870 and his loved wife Susannah Foreman formerly Sole, nee Gore 1794 -1871, Immigrants on the Oriental 1841.'

Sunday lunch had to be an indoor barbecue because of the rain. The Foreman family representatives briefly attended the lunch and gave Faye a copy of their book because she had given them a lot of information to start their research.

There was plenty of time for people to talk and gather around the coffee and cake stations. The Friesian Room was on the go constantly; this is where we sold our book and where we had a locked cabinet containing many precious heirlooms such as a pair of kid gloves worn by Ethel Sole, William Sole's bible brooches, christening gowns, lockets, a set of wooden bowls donated to J.D. Sole, a blancmange mould, books and much more. My niece had made a huge chart of the three first generations all colour coded and everyone was able to see where they fitted into the family very easily. We photocopied birth certificates, interesting correspondence and many relevant old documents, land transfers, maps etc. and these were displayed around the walls.

Various souvenirs were available for purchase, as well as the book. These included teaspoons, placemats pens, and limited edition prints of the drawing for the cover of the book. One of our group made an amateur video of the weekend and copies can be made for sale to anyone who is interested. In addition we have many photographs to remind us of the occasion.

It was a wonderful occasion, but as chief administrator I did not have the time to enjoy it as much as I should, being busy smoothing out various problems that cropped up with regards to the accommodation and food. However no-one else was aware of these and the hard work put in by the organising committee was all worth while. We are still busy marketing our book as the sales of this are needed to cover the expenses of the reunion. Everyone in New Zealand wishes the Sole Society every success.

Sole Family Reunion Committee 1988-1991


Back Row: (L-R): Marie Sole, Joanne Sole, Barbara Bedford, Faye Clarke, Janice Soffe, Raewyne Rea; Middle Row:  David Sole, Pearl Sole, Jan Bedford, Jim Sole, Elizabeth Day, Tom Sole, Front Row: Jpyce watson, Jocelyn Vickery, Ruby Sole, Janice Sole, Pat Sole, Dianne Thorstensen

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