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




Whitstable Gathering April 2007


By Ian Sewell


This article was originally published in the August 2007 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society


I am pleased to say that we had a large turn out for our meeting in Whitstable in April with nearly 40 members attending. Please see the photographs at the end of this report


Being prime Solley country it was expected that the Solleys would be well represented, but Sole and Sewells also attended in good numbers. Sauls were a bit thin on the ground which resulted in them having their meeting on the beach, which was a good idea as the weather was excellent and the ice creams cold!


The location of the Marine Hotel also worked well. We are grateful for the suggestions received for the future format and content of these meetings, and if anyone else has any opinions or ideas for these events then please feel free to contact me.


The speaker was Gillian Rickard who gave an interesting talk on Poor Law and Settlement Certificates. It became clear that if your ancestors were lucky (or unlucky really) to have a Settlement Order made, then there is certainly the possibility of gaining a large amount of information that would be of interest. Gillian has indexed many of these certificates in Kent and I understand that Bob Solley was very interested in acquiring all the certificates for the Solley name.


The next meeting, which will include the Annual General Meeting will be held on October 7th at The Poachers, Bamber Bridge, Preston. Please book using the enclosed leaflet or through our web site. We had hoped to return to the Red Cow in Leeds but unfortunately the pub is being turned into a Thai Restaurant! We searched for a replacement in the Leeds area but were unsuccessful – it is surprising just how few places can be suitable in certain areas. So we had to fall back on our idea of moving across the Pennines into Saul country. I hope that its location and excellent speaker, Peter Park, will encourage many members who have not been to a meeting before to come along. The pub has a Travel Inn on the premises so accommodation is available for those who would like it.


Many of you who have come to recent meetings have seen the family tree that I have had printed that is nearly three metres long (see below). I personally can not take too much credit for this - rather it lies with my ancestors who refused to move away from a small area of Essex for nearly three hundred years.


Anyhow I am pleased to say that this tree that was back to 1712 and ten generations has another three generations added and now goes back to 1634. The problem with the tree as it stood was that Henry and Ann Sewall appeared in Little Dunmow, Essex with the birth of their child Hannah in 1712. Prior to that we had no idea where they originated from as the records in Little Dunmow are quite good and go back to 1570’s. There was a large family of Sewells in the neighbouring parish of Great Dunmow and a Henry who fitted the bill, but without the marriage of Henry and Ann a link could not be proved. It has stayed this way for many years and after many attempts to find any records to link the families I did not think we would ever link them.


Then one day my cousin Ray in Australia passed an email to me from someone who had contacted him via Genes Reunited. He was descended from the Chalk line but in looking through his tree details I noticed that he had Henry and Ann (nee Judd) married in 1706 in Great Canfield, Essex. Now Great Canfield is a parish next to Great Dunmow but there is no sign of any Sewell activity in this parish, so I enquired how he obtained it. He thought that Ray provided it, but this was not the case. Intrigued, and very excited, I made a special trip to the Essex Records office to search the Great Canfield Records and sure enough, there was a record of Henry Sewill of Great Dunmow marrying an Ann Judd from Great Canfield. This linked the family in Great Dunmow to my family in Little Dunmow.


Further anecdotal evidence was that Henry’s parents both died in 1711 from the pox, so it was likely that this caused the family to break up and move away, with Henry and Ann arriving in Little Dunmow.


Brian Sewell, the Essex Sewell co-ordinator, was also able to then show that this marriage was present in the IGI which came as a bit of a shock to me. For those of you with families in Essex, you will know that the IGI has very poor coverage of this country, some 13% of parishes, so it is only of minor use. So the moral of this story is, firstly, never give up - as you do not know where the next crucial bit of evidence will come from, and secondly, use all available sources even if you think, like me, that they will not be of any use! You never know what you will find.


I hope to have the new tree printed soon and I assume that it will be even longer than its current 3 metres, but I will spend a while yet trying to chase down those members of the tree who do not seem to go anywhere.


Bob Sheldon talks to the Sole Members


Diana Kennedy & Ian Sewell lead the Sewell Discussion Group


Solly members discuss their research with Bob Solly (right)


Tony Storey talks to Gillian Rickard


Part of the SAUL contingent (John Slaughter, with Robert Hina & Family) discuss family history on the beach


Ian Sewell showing off his Family Tree - which just keeps growing


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