The Sole Society, a Family History Society researching Sole, Saul, Sewell, Solley and similar names


By Roger Sutton

This article was originally published in the April 2013 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society

I read George Solly’s article on Viking Sollys (December 2012) with considerable interest. Like George, I am descended from Stephen Solly the Younger and Elizabeth Hougham. I am descended from their daughter Elisabeth Solly who married Richard Austen (who belonged to a prominent Catholic family) on 13th May 1575 at Holy Innocents, Adisham.

At Worthing High School for Boys, which I attended, the school houses were called Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings. Let us not forget though that there is a substantial Celtic component to our population.  In Oxfordshire (where I have ancestry) the Celtic component is the same size as the Anglo-Saxon component.  The Celtic component appears to have arrived from Spain and considerably pre-dates the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons 1500 years ago.

Researchers at Oxford University investigated the genetic roots of the English people several years ago. One of their key findings is that the Danish Vikings who invaded the eastern seaboard of England are genetically the same as the Anglo-Saxons. By contrast, the Norwegian Vikings, who settled elsewhere, have a distinctive genetic marker, which someone descended from them would also have.

As part of their extensive investigation, which was conducted by DNA testing, Oxford University looked particularly at the people living in Kent and Sussex because they reasoned that this is where the Norman Conquest of 1066 would most likely have left its genetic imprint. In fact, there was no trace of the Norwegian Viking genetic marker and from this they concluded that the Normans who settled in Kent and Sussex were descended from the Danish Vikings not the Norwegian Vikings.

The study also concluded that England was essentially invaded three times by the same genetic groups:

i. The Angles, Saxons and Jutes from today’s Germany and Denmark

ii. The Danish Vikings who were from Denmark

iii. The Normans who had settled in Normandy from Denmark and who were given the feudal overlordship of the Duchy of Normandy in the 10th century.