John Sole, A Thoroughly Bad Lot!

By Maureen Storey

This article was published in the August 2016 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society

Among Ancestry’s recent releases are the Gloucestershire prison records 1728-1914, which, as you would expect, give details concerning a number of Sole miscreants. One person, in particular, stands out as causing his own petty crime wave. John Soul was born in Cheltenham in 1845 and was the son of Henry Soul, a blacksmith, and his second wife Hannah. Henry died in 1859 leaving Hannah to bring up their two surviving sons, John and David. At the time of his first court appearance in March 1862 John was 17 year old, 5 foot 5 inches tall, with brown hair, hazel eyes, a freckled complexion and a scar under his right ear. He was convicted of stealing 56 lbs. of hay and sentenced to one month’s hard labour. His time in prison certainly didn’t act as a deterrent
as his subsequent convictions demonstrate:
July 1862: 6 weeks for stealing flower pots
December 1862: 10 days for stealing flower pots
March 1863: 10 days for refusing to work while in the workhouse
September 1863: 1 month for stealing apples
December 1863: 14 days for willful damage to a street lamp
May 1864: 7 days for offering to enlist in the 15th Regiment of Foot while already enlisted in the militia
Jan 1865: 7 years for stealing a coat: he was released early on licence but the license was revoked in December 1871 when he didn’t notify the local police of his change of address.
February 1878: 10 days for begging
June 1881: 10 days for hawking without a licence
August 1881: 7 days for hawking without a licence
June 1882: 14 days for begging
February 1889: 7 days for hawking without a licence
As far as we know John never married and at present we haven’t been able to determine what happened to him after he was released in 1889.

Gloucester Prison. Copyright Neil Owen and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic