By Maureen Storey
With the continued dearth of new members and queries the last few months have been spent browsing the new records that have recently appeared online.
Both Ancestry and findmypast have added new sets of parish registers to their collections. On Ancestry you can now search the original parish registers of East Sussex, West Sussex, Nottinghamshire and Somerset (up to 1813) and the marriage registers of Wiltshire, whilst findmypast now includes register transcriptions for Bedfordshire. These have allowed events we already knew of for these counties to be rechecked and sometimes added to or corrected. Since Bedfordshire, East and West Sussex and to a lesser extent Nottinghamshire are all ‘Sole counties’ the checking is still an ongoing process.
Ancestry have also added the wills and probate records for East Sussex (1518-1858) and West Sussex
(1517-1858). Again these give access to the original records rather than just indexes meaning you can see the full list of legatees and what they inherited, which makes it easier to determine who the deceased was. Some wills, however, leave questions unanswered. For example, Susan Sole, widow of Chichester, Sussex, in her will written in 1626, leaves legacies to her daughter Annis Sole and her five sons, who are listed as John (‘my eldest son’), Caleb, Robert, Joseph, and John (‘my youngest son’). Did she really have two sons called John living at the same time? As yet I haven’t found any baptisms for these children, but because Susan also mentioned two of the children of eldest son John in the will, I’m fairly sure that the eldest son was John Sole, a dyer, who married Margaret Southcot in Chichester in 1617.
Although a number of different sets of Boer War records have been available for some time, it has often proved difficult to identify the people involved – many are listed by just an initial, their surname and the group with which they served. Therefore findmypast’s recent release of British Army, Local Armed Forces’ Enrolment Forms, Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 have proved very useful in identifying some of the soldiers. For example, when Arthur William Sole, aged 23, enlisted in the Western Province Mounted Rifles on the 5 Jan 1901 in Capetown, he gave his father H J Sole of High St, Grahamstown, as his next of kin. Arthur transferred to Peninsular Horse A Troop Mowbray on 11 Oct 1901. His enlistment papers have enabled me to identify his family in our records. His grandparents Alfred and Caroline (nee Pankhurst) emigrated to South Africa around 1850. Alfred came from a long line of skilled men who worked in the Royal Navy Dockyard in Sheerness, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, some as carpenters and others as sailmakers. The earliest record we have for the family is the marriage of carpenter John Sole and Mary Packham at Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, on 24 Mar 1694.