By Maureen Storey
Although we have had no new members since the last journal, a number of people have written to give us valuable new information and/or to correct mistakes in our database.
A long-standing gap in our information was filled by Mike Faul, who has written a book entitled From the West: The Merediths of County Sligo. We knew that Eastes Sole, a boatbuilder from Deal, Kent, moved to Ireland with his wife and children in the 1820s and that his son Bradley married an Ann but we didn’t have either Ann’s maiden name or the details of the marriage. Mike wrote to tell us that he had found the marriage of Bradley Sole and Ann Meredith, daughter of Matthew Meredith, which took place on 1 Nov 1837 at St John’s church in Sligo. He had also found the birth announcement of Bradley and Ann’s son Robert Meredith Sole in the Cork Examiner of 23 May 1855, which pinpointed Robert’s date and place of birth. Bradley was the lighthouse keeper at Roche Point Lighthouse at the entrance of Cork harbour in Ireland.
Ann Geddes wrote to ask if we had any information on her great-grandfather Walter Sole, who married Phyllis Lydia West in Shoreditch in 1876. Ann had been told by another researcher that Walter was born in North Walsham, NFK, in 1856 and that his parents were John Sole and Mary Ann Blaxill. This is a classic example of how unwise it is to assume that someone else’s research is accurate, because the Walter who married Phyllis West was indeed born in North Walsham, but in 1849, not 1856, and his parents were James Sole and Letitia Turner. (The Walter Sole born in 1856 to John Sole and Mary Ann Blaxill was born at Watton at Stone in Hertfordshire.) We were able to give Ann some background on the Norfolk family.
While researching his Sandwell family on the Internet, Frank Sandwell came across Bob Sheldon’s article about finding the gravestone of William Soal (1733–1783) in the churchyard of St Peter in Thanet, Kent. The gravestone had been discovered by chance when Bob was showing some visitors around the church (Soul Search, August 2008). From his burial records we knew that William Soal was a sailor but had no further information on his career. Frank’s research shows that William served on HMS Bellona, a 74-gun ship of the line, for 23 years and that he died shortly after the ship returned from a voyage to the Leeward Isles in the West Indies. William Soal’s daughter Mary married John Sandwell, who served with him on the Bellona, hence Frank’s interest in the family.
If William served on the Bellona for 23 years, he must have been present at the incident in the Seven Years War described in the following extract. It is taken a letter from Captain Faulknor of HMS Bellona, dated 21 August 1761 and written from Lisbon, which appeared in the London Gazette, 5 September 1761:
Please to acquaint My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, that on 14th instant, at Three PM, saw three sail in the SW Quarter, Cape Finisterre bearing NE 1/2 East distant ten leagues; we immediately gave chace, and by their crowding from us, soon suspected them to be Enemies. We came up but slowly with them, but continued the Chace all Night. At Five AM, we got almost up with the Chace and found them to be a large Ship and two frigates. At Six, the Brilliant began to engage with one of the frigates; soon after with the other also. Twenty Five minutes after Six, we came alongside the large Ship and began to exchange as near as possible. Thirty-four minutes after Six, our Mizen mast went away by the Enemy’s Shot; and at Forty-five minutes after Six, the Enemy’s Mizen-mast went over the side. At four minutes after Seven, the large ship struck (lowered her colours in surrender) which proved to be Le Courageux of 74 guns, commanded by M. Dague L’Ambert and had on board 700 men from San Domingo. The Brilliant continued to engage the two frigates. At Half past Seven, the French Frigates bore away and neither of our ships were in a condition to pursue them. At the same time, our prize’s Main-mast went away. We found our lower rigging much cut, the Fore-mast, Main-Mast and Main-topmast much shattered. We lost in the action 6 men and had 28 wounded. The enemy had 240 slain and 110 wounded. We sent our First Lieutenant, Mr Male with other officers and 150 men to take Possession of the Prize, and received 224 prisoners aboard. The Brilliant sent 50 men and received 100 prisoners on board. She had 5 men killed and 16 wounded. Among the slain is the Master.
We have since heard that the above French frigates are the Malicieux, Capt Longeville; and the Hermione, Capt Montigney, of 32 guns each.
I must also beg Leave to acquaint their Lordships, that Captain Loggie in the Brilliant, on the Day of Action, behaved like a skillful, brave Officer in engaging the two Frigates and preventing them from coming upon me. I also further assure their Lordships that the Officers and Ships Company of both Ships behaved with true Bravery. The Wind being strong Northerly after the Engagement and our ships much disabled, was the Reason of my bearing up for this port.
Geoff Knott is continuing his investigations into the descendants of John Soal and Sarah Varminer, who married in Steep, Hampshire, on 17 October 1757 and has sent some corrections concerning this family. Geoff now believes that the Elizabeth Soal who married Joseph New in 1824 was the daughter of Richard Soal and Ann Ayland, rather than the daughter of Edward Sole and Elizabeth Brown.
Another member who has sent us some corrections for the data we hold on her family is Judy Steele. Judy is a descendant of John Soal and Elizabeth Rae who emigrated to Canada aboard SS Great Eastern in 1863. The family settled in Guelph, Ontario, where John established a bakery. Judy wrote to tell us that in several of our records for the family we had the wrong name for the cemetery in Guelph. This detail is particularly important as Judy’s great grandfather was the cemetery’s superintendent and the family lived in its grounds.