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

SOLE Co-ordinator's Report August 2012

By Bob Sheldon


There are no new members to report but I am pleased to welcome back Geoff Knott to the society after a lapse of six years.  Geoff did much research and made many transcriptions of Sussex and Hampshire Wills during his previous membership but he took time off from all his family history research to concentrate on his wood turning skills.  He has now returned to his ancestors and in bringing his records up to date thought it was appropriate to rejoin the Society.


Matthew Fraser Moat who joined us in February, is putting much effort into expanding his family records of his MOAT and SOLE ancestors.  He is relatively new to genealogy but by all accounts he is hooked like most of us.  He has also brought in a cousin to help and she has uncovered the answer to a small mystery we had as to the birth of their great grandfather Albert SOLE.  We now know that Albert was baptised in January 1845 as Albert HOMANS before his mother Jane HOMANS married John SOLE in April 1845 in Littlebourne, Kent.  Although we shall never be certain that John was Albert’s father, looking at the dates it is most likely that he was.  Albert’s wife’s name, HOMANS, also had been previously a small mystery to us, although we do not generally give research time to non SOLE names; but Matthew and his cousin have cleared that up by tracing her baptism also in Littlebourne in 1823 as Jane HOLMAN.  This is a typical example of a spelling variant which is all too common in family history research.


One of our Canadian members, Judy Steele recently sent this photo of her GG-grandfather John SOLE, a minister in the Baptist Church.  He was born in Portsmouth in 1814 and as a minister he served in a number of UK locations before emigrating to Canada in 1863 with his wife Elizabeth and their children Elizabeth Rae and John Walker Flavel aboard the SS Great Eastern.  They first settled in Newbury, then Bothwell, then Elora and finally in Guelph, Ontario.  John retired from the First Baptist Church in Guelph in 1870 and then operated a bakery.  When he retired from the bakery he sold it to his son John Walker Flavel SOLE and his son in law Robert JOHNSTON.  John died tragically at the age of 91 in 1905 in Guelph as a result of a streetcar (tramcar) accident.


John Sole, Ancestor of Judy Steele

John Sole, Ancestor of Judy Steele


Judy Steele, also unknowingly, but very helpfully, solved another mystery we had concerning William SOLE who married Ann STUBINGTON in 1810 at Lower Halstow, a village situated between Gillingham and Sittingbourne, Kent.  After their marriage they moved to the Portsmouth area in Hampshire where they raised their family.  Judy helped by sending a few unwanted death certificates that she had accumulated and two of these were of William and Ann SOLE who died in Portsmouth in 1850 and 1847 respectively.  William was a joiner and his age at death was 62.  This tied in with a baptism in 1788 of an unnamed child of William and Martha SOLE in the Sheerness Dockside church on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.  We had previously suspected that this child was William because the Will of William senior had mentioned “my son William” and the marriage location of Lower Halstow for William junior is just on the Kentish mainland less than four miles from the Isle of Sheppey.  Another piece of evidence, which is a little speculative, is that William junior, being a joiner, was probably working in the Sheerness shipyard and thought he would improve his career prospects after marriage by moving to the Portsmouth shipyard.  We cannot be sure, of course but with Judy’s help we can be confident that we have now correctly linked this Hampshire family to its correct source in Kent.


Finally I need to add a personal note that this will be my last report for the journal on members’ research in the south-eastern counties.  After some eighteen years acting as the co-ordinator for this section of the Society’s records, I feel that this is the time for me to hand over to someone else.  I had hoped that a new member of the committee would have been ready to take up where I leave off but regrettably we have been unable to recruit any members to join the committee in recent years.  So I am pleased to say that my fellow co-ordinator, Maureen Storey, will be assuming the responsibility for the whole of the Society’s SOLE Group at our next committee meeting in August.  I shall help Maureen all I can during this transition period to make the transfer as smooth as possible. 


Maureen will be taking over the records for over 11,000 persons  connected with our families in the south east and she will become the main point of contact for our 30 members who are part of those families.  I should like to thank those members for their loyalty to the Society, some of whom have been members for more years than I have.  Many of them have done extensive research themselves and added their findings to our knowledge.  I like to think that we have been able to inform them and other members just where they fit into one of the wider family groups that we have identified.


With this transfer of function I shall not be breaking my ties completely with the Society. I shall be happy to stand for re-election to the committee at the Annual General Meeting in October and if re-elected I am prepared to continue as Membership Secretary. 


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