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

Where's George?

How Y-DNA Testing is Aiding Research,

with Observations Pertaining to Sole(s) in England


By Louise Walsh Throop, M.A., M.S., M.B.A.

of Sunol, California USA

This article was originally published in the December 2005 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society

It was a windy September day in 1620 when the Mayflower finally set sail to go from Plymouth, England across the Atlantic Ocean to New England. On board was a young Englishman, George Soule. He survived the passage and the famine that winter. After release from his position as servant, he married and raised a family. He left no obvious clue to his birthplace or the names of his parents.


Now, almost 400 years later, Soule researchers seek to find the family of origin of this pioneering George Soule. Much preliminary work has been done in the United States to identify the descendants of George through his three sons and four daughters. A national society, the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and a family organization, the Soule Kindred in America, have been focal points for research on the descendants of George Soule, of the Mayflower.


The modern spelling of the surname in American descendants is variable, and includes Soule(s), Sowle(s), and Sole(s). Census records in the early 1800s can list a 'Soal' or 'Sowl' or 'Souls' who 10 years later is found recorded in the census as 'Soule'. Modern pronounciation varies from 'sole' (as in a shoe part, rhymes with coal) to 'sou-lay'.




Spelling variability of this surname appears on both sides of the Atlantic and appears to span many years. Jumping back over 100 years, the computer-searchable summary of the 1891 census of England and Wales provides a geographical distribution of reported surnames for that year. This summary indicates for the six modern American spellings [Soules, Soule, Sowles, Sowle, Soles, Sole] that "Sole" is the most frequently found of all these six variants in 1891 in England and Wales. For "Sole", 95-188 families were reported in 1891 in both Kent and London, and 32-94 families were reported in each of four shires: Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, and Surrey. There are other "Sole" families, with a frequency of 1-31, in almost all the remaining shires of England in 1891 and in some parts of Wales.


Given the varied spellings of the Soule surname in North America in the past 400 years,, it is likely that a modern descendant in England of George1 Soule's family of origin in 1620 will be using one of six surnames: Sole, Sowles, Soule, Sowle, Soles, or Soules. For convenience, these and other surnames are included in: S(o/a)(u/w)l(e)(s). With the much higher occurrence of the Sole surname in England for 1891, it is possible that modern men with English ancestry from a 16th Century "Soule" family will be currently using the surname "Sole". Thus Y-DNA testing by men of The Sole Society may reveal a recent ancestor in common with the initial group of Soule genetic pioneers.




There is a new tool for genealogical research: Y-DNA testing. This modern tool, which has only been widely available for about 4 years, looks at a man's Y-chromosome for linear repeats of the chemical building blocks in the DNA. These repeats are not from genetically or medically important areas of the Y-chromosome, and are sometimes referred to as "junk" DNA. The multiple repeated patterns are passed  from father to son and thus can be used to identify the existence (but not the name or birth date!) of a very distant man, known as the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MCRA).


A dozen brave men in Canada and the United States have submitted cheek scrapings to the lab for analysis and have received word of their descent from a common male ancestor. To date, at six of the 12 grandsons of George Soule with descendants are represented in the Y-DNA study by both members and non-members of the Mayflower Society.


Fortunately for Soule researchers, the Y-DNA test results are very congruent, with the majority having identical testing results!! Since a genealogical lineage paper is verified for each member of the Mayflower Society, it is certain that the most recent common male ancestor known for all these men is George Soule of the Mayflower in 1620.


All of the men in this initial dozen are genetic pioneers. Many are well over 60 years of age. Many have proof of descent for some 10 or 11 generations from this George1 Soule, the first of the surname to remove to North America and leave descendants.


This modern research tool, the Y-DNA test, can be used to lend credibility to those lineages which up to now have had only circumstantial or indirect proof of descent from George1 Soule. So far, this Y-DNA testing has confirmed descent from George1 Soule for two such branches of descendants.


1. through Joshua6 Soule (see Family #525 in MFIP Soule, Pt. 3), who is a son of Benjamin5 Soule, early of NC

2. through William5 Soule (see Family #566 in MFIP Soule, Pt. 4, in press), who married ca 1761 Anna Sewell


The men who are tested and who do not match the George Soule Y-DNA are very important for future research. There are undoubtedly other men, perhaps in England or Europe, who will match these men. One such potential situation for a recent common ancestor may be:


1. John Wyngaart Soule/Soules/Soles, son of William Soule who married Margarita Wyngaard, of NY


The larger question remains; where did George1 Soule come from in England and who were his parents? The Y-DNA test results indicate a northern European origin, probably of Danish Viking or Norse heritage, with a Haplotype (or genetic genealogy profile) of I1a. The nine markers in the Y-DNA test which indicate the Danish Norse heritage follow. The first seven of these markers are found in the Y-DNA25 test results. The last two are found in the Y-DNA37 test results (two men, so far).


 DYS 391 = 10

 DYS 426 = 11

 DYS 458 = 15

 DYS 459a = 8

 DYS 459b = 9

 DYS 454 = 11

 DYS 448 = 20

 YCA IIa = 19

 YCA IIb = 21


Research back beyond some 12 generations or more is referred to as "deep ancestry" research. Using the Y-DNA testing, and correlating with test results from large populations, we can work on our "deep ancestry" and have a good guess at which wave of early immigrants from Europe to England we might be descended from.


For background on early man in Europe, see the National Geographic website for the Atlas of the Human Journey (




Only a Y-DNA test can determine a man's Haplotype and indicate his genetic closeness or lack of closeness to another man. Sole(s) men by any spelling [remember S(o/a)(u/w)l(e)(s)] in England and elsewhere are invited to join the FamilyTreeDNA Soule Project.


With a little bit of luck, some Sole(s) men will have test results matching the results of the initial dozen genetic pioneers. In that happy event, Y-DNA testing can help to bring together distant cousins with English ancestry. Will these men be currently living in Australia, England, or elsewhere?

Benefits of participation in the Soule/Sole(s) Y-DNA Project are (taken from the website of Charles F. Kerchner, Jr. of Emmaus PA at


1. Identify the genetic genealogy profile of your male family line.

2. May identify your roots when traditional documentary genealogical research methods have failed.

3. Results may offer clues of where to focus and pursue additional traditional documentary genealogical research.

4. May verify once and for all that your traditional documentary genealogical work is accurate and scientifically verified.

5. Get clues or help others get clues as to the village of origin in Europe of your immigrant ancestor.

6. If you live in Europe with a similar surname to one of our current participants, you may find descendants and cousins living in the USA you did not know you had.

7. Preserve your DNA for the future at no additional cost. Thus, you leave something for posterity for use by future members of your family. This is especially important for older members of a family, particularly if that older person is the last surviving male member of the family. NOTE: if that elderly person cannot afford the test, another family member can sponsor and pay for the test.

8. May identify new genetic cousins you did not know you had.

9. Join the ranks of the select few as an early Genetic and Genealogy Pioneer. Have the satisfaction of knowing that you are an early participant in a state-of-the-art project which is contributing to the world knowledge base for this new and exciting field, genealogy by genetics.

10. By donating a DNA sample now for posterity, your descendants won't have to dig you up later!


Test kits are obtained from FamilyTreeDNA but tests from other services can be used. The preferred test is the Y-DNA25. This version tests 25 loci on the Y-chromosome and costs about $174 (US), which is a discounted group rate. Test kits can be ordered from:



 1919 North Loop West Suite 110

 Houston, Texas 77008 USA

 phone: (713) 868-1438 [put Soule or Sole in the query box]


NOTE: A limited number of kits for the Y-DNA25 test are available at no cost for Soule descendants (except return postage to USA) to the recipient. Inquire of the current President of the Soule Kindred, Frank F. Soule

and indicate if born before 1935.


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