By Maureen Storey
The last few months have been very quiet, with no new members and only a few contacts with current members, mostly about the DNA project.
The DNA project is progressing slowly and we have one or two leads that we’re looking at more closely. Hopefully, we’ll be able to say more about those in the next journal, but we’re hampered to some extent by the fact that for some of our major trees we’ve yet to find anyone who has taken a test. For example, we need to find people with DNA from the Soole family of Ickleton, Cambridgeshire, the Soul family of Olney, Buckingham, and the Sole families of the Isle of Sheppey, Kent to name just a few.
Ancestry has continued to expand its parish register collection. The recent additions that are of particular interest for the Soles are East and West Sussex and Worcestershire. Some of the Sussex records were previously available on FindMyPast but only as an index, whereas the Ancestry collection allows you to look at the original records. Being able to check the originals has allowed me to add details, such as occupations, not included in the Findmypast index and has also identified a number of transcription errors, both in dates and in misreading names. Ancestry’s Worcestershire database currently only goes back as far as 1600 and includes some new, albeit only two-generation, families that have been added to the Society’s database.
Another database that has recently piqued my interest was Ancestry’s UK, Naval Medal and Award Rolls 1793-1972. A quick search on Sole and variant names returned mostly WW1 medals, among which I spotted my grandfather John F Sole, a stoker 1st class, who was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Defence Medal, the trio commonly known as ‘pip, squeak, and Wilfred.’ By the time that the medals were awarded, my grandfather had been discharged from the Navy and so his entry records that the medals were sent to him at home. For those who were still serving sailors and whose medals were sent to their ship, the roll gives the name of the ship. It is not always possible to identify the recipients as many are just recorded by their surname and initials, but it will be worth checking through the list to see which need further investigation.
The medal roll includes recipients of some post-WW1 medals, but these are generally just the long-service medals given to regular sailors for 10 years service, and it doesn’t cover WW2.
The roll also includes recipients of pre-1914 medals: the majority of these have been awarded Naval General Service Medals. The General Service Medals are awarded for minor actions that are not covered by other awards, for example, both A G Sole and S Sole were awarded the Naval General Service Medal, Persia, a medal awarded for operations against gun runners, pirates and slavers in the Persian Gulf between 1909 and 1914. As yet I don’t have a definite identification for either of these men: S. Sole was a stoker petty officer on board HMS Sphinx and received his medal on 7 Jan 1916, while A.G. Sole was a petty officer on HMS Swiftsure and got his medal on 16 Nov 1915. Among the more unusual medals whose recipients are included in the roll is the St Jean d’Acre Medal which was awarded by the Sultan of Turkey in 1842 for service in Syria: able seaman Valentine S Sole earned this medal while serving on HMS Edinburgh. (Thanks to his unusual forename this is one man I could immediately identify: he was Valentine Sayer Sole who was born in Deal, Kent, in 1817, whose family has been traced back to John Sole and Elizabeth Penvole, who married in Canterbury, Kent, in 1606.)