By Maureen Storey
With no new Sole members joining the Society since the last journal, there has been plenty of time to look at some of the less traditional sources for family history.
One area that the Society has started to look at is how we might be able to use DNA to link some of our Sole trees together. This project is being run primarily by Linda Butler, though I help by supplying her with any data she requires. It is thought DNA could be particularly useful for those trees that at present start with someone born in the second half of the eighteenth century. Generally, the head of these trees died before the 1851 census, so we don’t know their place of birth. One such example is William Soall who married Clementina Benson in London in 1775. Although the subject of much research, William Soall’s origin remains a mystery, but if he had siblings then his descendants would share enough DNA with any descendants of those siblings for a match to be identified. Initially at least we are looking at Ancestry’s DNA database. For the project to work we need to identify examples of people in the database who are carrying Sole DNA. If you can help with this project please get in touch.
Another source that I’ve been looking at is the online catalogues of the UK county record offices. As you can imagine, searching catalogues for the surname Sole requires some patience as there are copious numbers of ‘sole’ heirs, ‘sole’ executors etc., but you can find the occasional gem. For example, in the last few weeks I’ve been looking at the Essex Record Office catalogue. Essex isn’t generally regarded as a Sole county – we have only a few fragmentary trees – but the catalogue appears to show there were other families whose records have been lost. The following are just a few examples of the records I’ve found so far:
(1) John Soles of Castle Hedingham
Session Rolls: Michaelmas 1578
Whereas by a writ of the lady Queen, bearing the date at Westminster 18 June, 20 Elizabeth, directed to Gabriel Poyntz, esquire, sheriff, he was ordered to take John Soles in order that he might appear at Westminster on Friday next…to answer Thomas Barnard on a plea of trespass, the said sheriff … on 8 July at Chelmsford … commanded Richard Baker his bailiff to take and keep the said John Soles, by virtue of which precept the said bailiff took and arrested the said John Soles at Castle Hedingham … and had him in custody for one hour, nevertheless John Soles of Castle Hedingham, cooper, and Katherine, his wife … assaulted and beat the said Richard Baker and rescued John Soles, the prisoner out of his custody.
And that was not the family’s only brush with authority:
Session Rolls: Michaelmas 1580
Similarly witnessed, to call … John Soles of Castle Hedingham, cooper, and Katherine his wife … to come to the sessions and if they do not appear to outlaw them.
We know very little about this Soles family: John Soles married Katherine Wright in Castle Hedingham in 1566. The couple seem to have had 10 sons and 4 daughters, but there are marriage records for only four of the children and to date I’ve found only one grandchild for John and Katherine. I think the John Soles arrested in 1578 was the son of the John and Katherine Soles who rescued him, but it seems extraordinary to summon someone who lives in a small town in north Essex to go all the way to Westminster if his offence was simply trespass.
(2) George Soles of Belchamp St Paul
Session Rolls: Michaelmas 1591
Recognizance*: John Smythe and Edmund Moore alias Barrell of Belchamp St Paul, husbandmen, for George Soles of the same, cooper, to keep the peace towards John Bridge of the same, husbandman.
There is a similar recognizance for John Bridge to keep the peace towards George Soles, so presumably there had been some kind of fracas between the two. These are the only records we have for this George Soles – he hasn’t been found in the Belchamp St Paul parish records.
(3) Rowland Soales of Romford
Miscellaneous Essex Documents: Estate and Family Records 20 Nov 1683
Marriage settlement (post-nuptial): Rowland Soales, cooper, to Thomas Russell, tanner, both of Romford. 2 messuages (in occupation of Alexander Maypole and John Jelfe) and tanyard (in occuaption of Thomas Russell) in Romford
(Recites marriage between Thomas Russell and Hannah (daughter of Rowland Soales.)
We know of six children for Rowland Soales, all baptised in Romford, Essex, but nothing more.
(4) John Soles of Burnham
Session Rolls: Michaelmas1635
Indictment of John Pennyfather of Burnham, weaver, broke into the close of John Soles there and shot coneys with a handgun being charged with powder and hayleshot and killed and took away on coney.
Again, this is the only record we have for this John Soles.
These records pose more questions than they answer, e. g., what was the trespass committed by John Soles in 1578, did John Soles and his wife Katherine appear at the sessions as ordered or were they outlawed, what did George Soles and John Bridge argue about? However, they give us insights into the lives of people of that era and demonstrate how incomplete the parish records for the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries must be.
Note: Recognizance definition: An obligation, entered into before a judge or magistrate, to perform a particular action, such as appearing in court, without the posting of a bond.