By Maureen Storey
With no new members and not even any enquiries, the last few months have been very quiet. This has, however, meant that there has been time to look at new data sources.
The commercial family history sites are still adding and updating data relevant to the Sole (and variants) families, but many of the datasets added in the last couple of months cover areas such as Somerset and Dorset where there are few, if any, Sole families. However, for those researching nineteenth and twentieth century families in England and Wales probably the most significant updates for several years are to be found on the GRO website: www.gro.gov.uk. New indexes have been compiled for the pre-1911 births and the pre-1865 deaths from the original sources. These new indexes now include the mother’s maiden name for births and the age at death for the deaths. It was originally intended to update the marriage indexes to include the wife’s maiden name for all marriages, but government spending cuts have meant that this part of the project has been postponed.
Having the mothers’ maiden names in the early GRO indexes has meant that we can now identify the family of the vast majority of the Soles etc. whose birth was registered. This even includes several cases in which the child concerned did not live long enough to be named. The addition of the mother’s maiden name has also helped identify those mothers who married more than once, since in those cases the name in the birth index does not match the woman’s name at marriage.
There are still some people in the Sole (and variants) birth indexes that have yet to be placed in one of our families and for whom we may eventually have to buy certificates. For some of these, we know the full names of both parents, but have not been able to link the father to his birth family without their marriage certificate. For others, we have the parents’ surnames but cannot find a marriage for them in the GRO index and so do not know their given names. However, the largest group of unidentified births are those for whom the mother’s maiden name is left blank in the new indexes – these are the illegitimate births.
Checking the new birth indexes against the old, it is obvious that there are a number of errors and omissions. There are people whose names have been misread (often found under Sale, Saul, etc.) and even some people who seem to have disappeared from the index completely, even though we have documentation (sometimes even birth certificates) for them.
The new indexes have so far enabled us to link almost 200 individuals, who for one reason or another were known as just isolated entries in the database, to their wider families. The largest group of these were sadly babies who died in infancy, something which many families experienced multiple times. While it is hard to imagine what the impact on a family of such losses was, the very fact of them emphasises how hard life was for many of our ancestors.
Efforts so far have been concentrated on the updated birth index. The new death index has been downloaded and work will start shortly on going through it systematically to identify as many of the entries as possible.