A SEA-FARING FAMILY
By Bernard Jones
This article was published in the December 2014 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
Since the theme of the Annual Gathering was Naval Records member Bernard Jones brought along some of his own records to the meeting.
It is actually Bernard’s late wife, Diana, who has the Sole ancestors. Her grand mother was Rose Hannah Sole who was born in Appledore in 1876 and married Walter Henry Ford in 1897. The first known mariner in the family was Rose Hannah's father George Sole a master mariner who captained vessels. He was born in Woodnesborough, Kent in 1840, went to sea as a lad then settled in Appledore in the 1860s.
Rose Hannah’s brother John Cousins Sole joined the Navy aged 12 in 1890. One of the records Bernard brought was his record of service which showed that John was 5ft 5.5in, had brown hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion at the time he enlisted. His record also lists the ‘ships’ he served on and a quick look on Wikipedia shows that at least two of them are either shore based or ships associated with harbours. For example HMS Indus, the first ship he served on was the Devonport guard ship and flagship of the Port Admiral. In 1901 he was made a Warrant Officer and lived in the gun room. He served in World War 1 although no records can be found for him after 1916.
Rose Hannah’s father-in-law was John Ford who was presumed drowned when his ship The Eliza went missing off the Scilly Isles in a huge storm in March 1891. The winter of 1890/1891 was unusually cold and by February there had been a total of 55 days of harsh weather Then, on 9th March 1891, Cornwall, Devon and Somerset and the surrounding seas bore the brunt of a storm with hurricane-force winds and driving snows. Snowdrifts of 11.5 feet were reported from Torquay, Sidmouth and Dartmouth while out in the countryside and on the moors, conditions were even worse. The storm finally began to abate on 13th March. Over 220 people lost their lives as a result of the storm, some were frozen to death but the vast majority died at sea. Since John Ford’s body wasn’t found his presumed death was recorded in the Marine Register as shown opposite.
More recently, Rose Hannah’s nephew was an ordinance artificer in the Navy and sadly was killed when his ship hit a mine laid by the Albanians after WW2.
Bernard was also a sailor, although obviously the link to the Soles is tenuous – his wife’s grandmother was the Sole. He served also as an ordinance artificer in the Navy for 27 years.
And surely Rose Hannah would be pleased to know that her great great grandson is following the family tradition and currently works as an engineer for one of the ferry companies.