By Maureen Storey
In this journal we welcome new member Brent Soal. Brent is descended from Thomas Soal and Lucy Glasspool who emigrated from Hampshire to New Zealand with their children in 1874. Having researched the family in New Zealand he is now keen to know more about their origins in England. Our records take Thomas’s family back to James Soale and Mary (aka Marjorie) Lassiter, who married in Ashurst, Sussex, in 1620. This is one of our largest families: our records currently include just over 2000 individuals.
Geoff Knott, another descendant of James and Mary Soale, has recently sent six nineteenth century clippings from the local newspapers concerning members of this family. These demonstrate the wide variety of information that can be gained from newspapers.
One rich source for local newspapers is the magistrates courts, so it is not surprising that two of the clippings are about miscreants, namely George Soal, who was sentenced to three weeks hard labour for stealing 6d (Hampshire Telegraph (15 January 1870), and William Soal, who was found guilty of assaulting his step-grandmother in 1874 (Hampshire Advertiser 4 Jul 1874).
There was also a report of the inquest on the baby daughter of Ann Soal (Hampshire Telegraph 30 June 1860). Ann had separated from her husband Edward more than a year previously and then went to live with Henry Harding, who was the baby’s father. When she and Henry split up, the heavily pregnant Ann was admitted to Petersfield Workhouse, where the baby was born. The child was found dead in bed beside her mother a few days later. The inquest concluded that the child had been accidentally smothered by her mother as she slept.
On 18 Jan 1935 the Hampshire Telegraph carried the obituary (with a photo) of 83 year-old-old George Soal of Inlands House, Southbourne, which gives some details of his life and family.
The 26 Mar 1927 edition of the West Sussex County Times included an advert for the services of J B Soal, practical decorator of Crawley Road, Horsham. (This was James Bernard Soal, born 1915 Horsham, died 1984 Crawley.)
The Hampshire Advertiser (26 October 1861) gives details of a property in Romsey that was to be sold by auction following the death of its owner, Mary Soal. The property concerned wasn’t the one Mary lived in, so presumably she owned two houses and the fact that at probate her estate was worth less than £200 says a lot about house prices at the time!
The North American section of our database continues to grow rapidly. For many years this consisted almost entirely of the data that appeared in the books about George Soule published by the Mayflower Society. This was partly because US records were difficult to access from the UK and partly because the biggest source of accessible data was the LDS church’s IGI, which was known to contain many inaccuracies. The wide-spread digitisation of records means that it is now possible to easily access source data, and so it has been possible to verify (and thus use) much of the IGI and other trees found on-line, such as those on Ancestry.
One website that has been very helpful for piecing together later US generations is findagrave.com and I would recommend that anyone who is researching a US family should check if members of the family are listed on it. The website gives the cemetery where a person is buried, with dates and places of birth and death (usually taken from the gravestone) and links to similar data for other family members. The site is very popular with American researchers, so you might also find that family members have added photos of the deceased and obituaries that have appeared in local newspapers.