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

SEWELL Co-ordinator's Report - November 97

By Geoff Sewell

I can report that at last things are really on the move. As most of you know, the task of producing SEWELL charts is a formidable one. Given that very little work has been done previously, and that there are 12,500 SEWELL events for the UK alone on the IGI, the task was too great to face alone. So I wrote a letter to all members with SEWELL interests asking for help. I was very encouraged with the response. To date, I have received 26 replies and have sent out 26 charting packs for members to start with their own families. Some have been returned, so indexing work can now begin. They will be filed by the county which the marriage took place and numbered.

So far, Michael Sewell has been the most productive with some 30 charts returned. I had better explain my definition of a Chart. A Chart is a piece of A3 paper with one marriage and the resulting children on it, displayed in tree format. Branches go off at the top and are indexed to the marriage above, and branches go off the bottom indexed to the marriages below. These paper charts are integrated into my database.

The database, is constructed of events taken from the IGI for the UK and will become the main control tool to handle all the data. I have already split it into two: database A containing marriages and database B containing baptisms and christenings.

The marriages are split into counties and numbered. The marriage code is simply made up of the Chapman code of the county where the event took place, followed, by a completely arbitrary number e.g. a total code might be BDFOO1. As the charts come in they will be allocated the appropriate number by me and filed.

I have used the charts Michael Sewell sent me to test the system, and so far it works.

An important point to note is that the database contains all the 134 variants currently being considered. This is because of crossover names like SOWELL which could be SOUL or SEWELL, if you leave them out you might miss a link.

Two recent letters illustrate the power of the database.

The first letter comes from Diana Kennedy of Surrey, who writes:

"I am trying to trace the birth certificate for my great grandfather William Sewell. I have searched St Catherine's House (now transferred to Myddelton House) without success. From his marriage and death certificate I believe he was born 1858 to 1859. The census of 1881 and 1891 states he was born in Poplar (London). I was unable to find him on the 1861 census for Poplar or at the GLC Record Office.

He married Sarah Dormer 16 October 1880 in The Registry Office at Woolwich. On the certificate his father is given as William SEWELL and witnessed by Harriet SEWELL (she may have been his sister or mother). They lived in Plumstead where he died in 1920. William worked at the Woolwich Royal Arsenal as a labourer."

I interrogated the database looking for the children of William SEWELL and possible mother Harriet, the result is shown in Table1.

Given Name Surname Sex Event Type Day/Month Year Father's Given Name Mother's Given Name Event Place 2 Event Place 3
Mary SOUL F C 24 Jun 1860 William Harriet London Surrey
William SOUL M C 03 May 1863 William Harriet London Stepney
Harriet SOUL F C 14 Aug 1867 William Harriet London Stepney

Stepney is right next door to Poplar. Is this the origins of the missing William? It certainly appears to be worth investigating.

Given some of the crossovers I have come across, this SOUL family could very easily be SEWELL, particularly in London. Diana is researching this theory and I'll report next time.

The second letter comes from Ms. M Spiller of Walton-on-Thames:

"My SEWELL ancestor is Elizabeth Sewel who married Charles Reynold on 22nd March 1796 in Farncett, Norfolk. I have not yet found a Baptism for Elizabeth. I do not know who her parents were."

I carried out a search of the database for any Elizabeth baptised in Norfolk between 1760 to 1780, and came up with 10 possibilities as shown in Table 2.

Given Name Surname Sex Event Type Day/Month Year Father's Given Name Mother's Given Name Event Place 2 Event Place 3
Elizabeth SEWELL F C 15 May 1761 Aaron Joann Norfolk Mundham
Elizabeth SEWELL F C 17 Jul 1766 James Elizabeth Norfolk Topcroft
Elizabeth SEWELL F C 22 Nov 1767 Robert Sarah Norfolk Norwich
Elizabeth SEWELL F C 24 Apr 1768   Elizabeth Norfolk Norwich
Elizabeth SEWELL F C 23 Aug 1772 John Love Norfolk Ketteringham
Elizabeth SEWELL F C 29 May 1774 Thomas Sarah Norfolk Norwich
Elizabeth SAUL F C 17 Oct 1776 Thomas Mary Norfolk Blofield
Elizabeth SEWELL F C 17 Jun 1778   Jane Norfolk Norwich
Elizabeth SEWELL F C 02 Aug 1778 Samuel Amy Norfolk Norwich
Elizabeth SAUL F C 25 Sep 1780 Thomas Mary Norfolk Blofield

There is now plenty of research to be done. Which Elizabeth is the right one?

I regret that a search of the data base is available to members only and even then, a small charge may be made as it takes a considerable amount of time to carry out each search.

This autumn, Britain was invaded by two marauding Canadians, Sharon Cunningham and her friend Jill Pemblelon who live in Guelph, Ontario. They descended on Bedford twice during their recent trip to the UK. Sharon's maiden name was SEWELL and although I wasn't able to help with her research immediately, I am looking. She has traced back as far as Mark Sewell 17 October 1798 baptised in Norwich, Norfolk. Can anyone help to get further back ?

We spent a very enjoyable Saturday around Bedford and managed to include a trip to my ancestral villages of Croxton and Eltisley Cambridgeshire. Photographic evidence will be in next Journal.

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