By Stacy B. C. Wood, Jr.
In a previous article we discussed the children on board the Mayflower and focused on Richard More. You may remember that his brother Jasper and sisters Ellen (also called Ellinor) and Mary came too but neither of their parents came. Instead they were assigned to three of the other families. Ellen was with Edward and Elizabeth Winslow. Some passengers brought along man-servants. Two came with the Winslows: George Soule and Elias Story. It is George Soule that we will talk about this time. “Manservants” means that they were not boys.
You might wonder how you would pronounce the name Soule. Does it rhyme with pool or hole? Or is it soo-ly or soul-e? Do you remember in our previous article about the More children that “girle” is just the old way of spelling “girl”? Have a look at the image from Bradford’s list of Mayflower passengers again on this page. Just ignore the “e” on the end and you have “soul” as in “heart and soul.” Vital records are official records of the birth, marriage and death of individuals. George eventually settled in Duxbury and the Vital Records of Duxbury up to the Year 1850 published in 1911 include the following variant spellings of Soule: Sole, Soul.
Are you a descendant of George Soule? You might be. Although only 18 of our current Pennsylvania Society’s 770 members have chosen him to prove their line, he has many living descendants. There is a group of about 400 descendants who belong to the Soule Kindred of America with their own website www.SouleKindred.org, a quarterly Soule Kindred Newsletter, hold annual reunions, and award two scholarships each year. The first editor of our Pennsylvania Mayflower newsletter, George Soule, was a descendant of Pilgrim George Soule. Currently we have no members with the last name Soule and no Junior members claiming Pilgrim George as an ancestor.
George was born probably between 1595 and 1602. We still don’t know where George Soule came from or the names of his parents. One researcher, Caleb H. Johnson, thinks that the best bet for George’s home village is Tingrith in Bedfordshire, England. Even today there are only about 155 residents in this parish where the church is St. Nicholas. This village is about 14 miles west-southwest of Henlow, the home of Pilgrims Henry Samson and John Howland’s future wife Elizabeth Tilley. (see map) If so, perhaps George knew them even though they were a few years younger than he. The Mayflower Society hopes to find Y-DNA matches in England. So far they have indication of “a northern European origin, probably of Danish Viking or Norse heritage…”
The General Society of Mayflower Descendants states YDNA test results of those men with the last name Soule and its variant spellings “are very congruent, with the majority of over 15 participants having identical test results! As several of these men have lineages which have been examined and proven by the Mayflower Society back to George Soule, we are certain that the most recent common male ancestor known for all these men is George Soule of the Mayflower in 1620.”
George’s age is based on the fact that he signed the Mayflower Compact in November 1620 and therefore must have been at least 21. Because he was still a servant, it is probable that he was under the age of 25. The fact that he was married by 1627 also helps to establish a probable year of birth.
The name of his wife is also based on assumption. There is no surviving record of his marriage but in 1627 there was a distribution of cattle among the Pilgrims and those who had followed them to New Plymouth up to that year. In the distribution list George has a wife named Mary. Because there was only one unmarried Mary living in Plymouth between the 1623 division of land to the residents and the distribution of cattle, and her name in 1623 was Mary Buckett, it is assumed that she became his wife. A variant spelling of her maiden name is Becket.
What else do we know of George? Other than his mention in Governor William Bradford’s passenger list and “decreasings and increasings” list, George does not appear in Bradford’s history Of Plimoth Plantation or in the journal of the first year believed to have been written by both Bradford and Edward Winslow that is known as Mourt’s Relation. He may have been on some of the early explorations to find a settlement site but his name does not appear among those named. The land he was given outside the original settlement in 1627 was one acre. He eventually acquired land in 1637 in Duxbury to the north of Plymouth. Some of his acreage was at Powder Point (see map). Probably of interest today is that he was one of two on a committee that wrote one of the earliest Colonial no-smoking laws. At this point it wasn’t a question of the dangers of second-hand smoke, but rather the danger of fire to crops and buildings. Otherwise, George seems to have lived a law-abiding and quiet life. It is recorded that he volunteered in June 1637 to fight in the Pequot War but the Colony did not take part in it. He died in Duxbury before 22 January 1679 (New Style). Mary died in Duxbury in December 1676. You can read his will and the inventory of his belongings taken at his death at the Pilgrim Hall website http://www.pilgrimhallmuseum.org/pdf/George_Soule_Will_Inventory.pdf.
Gov. Bradford states that George and Mary had 8 children but records show there were 9: Zachariah (married Margaret Ford?), John (married 1st Rebecca Simmons, 2nd Hester/Esther Delano), Nathaniel (married Rose/Rosamond Thorn), George (married Deborah Thomas), Susanna (married Francis Waste/West), Mary (married John Peterson), Elizabeth (married Francis Walker), Patience (married John Haskell) and Benjamin (unmarried). If you are a descendant, do you know which child is your ancestor? The General Society of Mayflower Descendants has published the genealogy of the first five generations. You can read more about George Soule and his children in Caleb H. Johnson’s 2006 The Mayflower and Her Passengers.
There is a marker for George Soule at Duxbury which reads: "Nearby Rests George Soule, Pilgrim, A signer of The Mayflower Compact on Nov 11th 1620, who died in January 1679-80. Erected by Soule Kindred 1971."
GEORGE SOULE 16 X 20 WORDSEARCH
The following 44 words are found in this issue: