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

The Society's Records

WILLS

by Tony Storey

This article was originally published in the April 2003 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society

Since 1858, wills and administrations for England and Wales have been handled by the Principal Probate Registry (PPR).

An index to these modern wills is available on film for viewing by the public at District Probate Registries, County Record Offices and many local reference libraries. The cost of obtaining a copy of each and every will would clearly be prohibitive so we are fortunate that the index itself provides much of the information we need to identify and learn a little about our ancestors. A selection of entries appears in this journal to show you how valuable this source can be.

This project began in 2001 and to date we have achieved

Saul and Variants

1858-1930

Sewell

1858-1930

Sole

1858-1950

Any help to extend the Saul and Sewell data would be very welcome but our priority has to be to acquire the index entries for Solley and variants.

N.B. I am happy to type up the Solley wills on a spreadsheet if someone out there will volunteer to send them to me. You can transcribe them manually from the film, photocopy the entries if your local archive has a viewer/copier or even e-mail me photographs of the screen if you have a digital camera and the archivist has no objection.

Many wills prior to 1858 were proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) and records exist for wills from 1383 and administrations from 1559. Most years are indexed after a fashion. The entries themselves are very brief but would nevertheless be of use to us in tracing ancestors. On occasion we may use the index to obtain a copy of the will in order to prove a relationship.

Unfortunately, the PCC index is not as widely available as that for the PPR but if you visit the Family Records Centre in London occasionally and wish to help extract some names, please let me know.

Canterbury was not the only court for proving pre-1858 wills. For example, the wills of many of our ancestors in the north of England would have been dealt with in the Prerogative Court of York. In addition, there were Consistory Courts in every county which had local jurisdiction to prove a will. If your County Record Office has an index to such records and you are willing to help us by extracting our names, please let me know so I can avoid any duplication of effort.

As well as Saul, please note any Sawell or Sawle entries.

As well as Solley, were looking for Solly and Soley.

Sewell includes Saywell, Seawell and Suell.

Sole variants include Soal, Soul, Soole, Sowle and Sowell, any of which may appear with an extra e, l or s.

Please help if you can and either post the information to me or e-mail an attachment, Excel if possible but other formats will do, including good old pen and paper. My address is on the cover.

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Some Sewell Family Wills

(from the Index of the Principal Probate Registry)

Extracted by Tony Storey

28 July 1864

The Will of Charles Edward Sewell late of Great Yarmouth in the County of Norfolk Grocer deceased who died 7 June 1864 at Great Yarmouth aforesaid was proved at Norwich by the oath of Elizabeth Sewell of Great Yarmouth aforesaid Widow the Relict by the affirmations of Isaac Sewell of the City of Bath Banker the Uncle and Richard Marston of the City of Norwich Confectioner the Executors. Effects under 3,000.

21 September 1870

The Will with a Codicil of Edward Sewell formerly of Great Yarmouth in the County of Norfolk but late of Hitchin in the County of Hertford Gentleman deceased who died 13 August 1870 at Ware in the County of Hertford was proved at the Principal Registry by the affirmations of Isaac Sewell of Old Catton in the County of Norfolk Gentleman the Brother Mary Sewell of Hitchin aforesaid Spinster and Catherine Sewell of Hitchin aforesaid Spinster the Daughters the Executors. Effects under 16,000.

9 August 1878

The Will of Anna Sewell late of Catton in the County of Norfolk Spinster who died 25 April 1878 at Catton was proved at Norwich by Philip Edward Sewell of the Parish of St Clement without the Gates in the County of the City of Norwich Esquire the Brother one of the Executors. Personal Estate under 2,000.

6 March 1879

The Will of Isaac Sewell late of Catton in the County of Norfolk Esquire who died 7 November 1878 at Catton was proved at Norwich by Philip Edward Sewell of St Clement's Hill New Catton in the County of the City of Norwich Gentleman the Son one of the Executors. Personal Estate under 1,500.

15 July 1884

The Will with a Codicil of Mary Sewell late of Catton in the County of Norfolk Widow who died 10 June 1884 at Catton was proved at Norwich by Philip Edward Sewell Gentleman the Son and Mary Grace Sewell Spinster the Granddaughter both of the Parish of St Clement Without in the County of the City of Norwich two of the Executors. Personal Estate 6,223.18s.5d.

31 May 1906

Philip Edward Sewell of Clare House St Clements Hill Norwich died 6 February 1906. Probate London 31 May to Philip Edward Sewell esquire. Effects 68,541 17s 6d. Resworn 73,678 3s 6d and 79,539 16s. n

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