George Soule: Having a Mayflower Ancestor and the Legacy

In Plymouth, MA at the Mayflower II

Genealogists have a little checklist of ancestors they would like to have, however not everyone wants the same things.  I could care a less if I am related to royalty, but think it would be great if I was related to one of the historical people who generated the legend of Robin Hood. I certainly wanted to have American Revolutionary and Civil War ancestors and I have found quite a few. It would be interesting to have a Colonial witch or early persecuted Quakers (I think I might have found the latter.) My mail order bride was a surprise and I didn’t even have her on the list.  But, my Mayflower ancestor was a kind of  “pie in the sky” wish.  Considering there were 102 passengers who sailed on the Mayflower and half of them died the first winter, the odds were not in favor of me finding a link, but I was thrilled to be able to trace my line to George Soule.

If you have a Mayflower ancestor, you will be amazed at the volume of data that is available for early beginnings of settlement in America.  Those Pilgrims and Puritans were good little record keepers and George Soule left a number of records behind that outline his life in Massachusetts. It also helps that the Mayflower Society and it’s members continue to research the lives of the Mayflower passengers and their descendants and have added much to the history.

George Soule

There is quite a bit known about the life of George Soule in Massachusetts.  He was born sometime between 1595 and 1602 and would have been around 18-25 when he arrived in Plymouth in 1620 as a servant to Edward Winslow. He was married to Mary by 1627 and many historians believe this to be Mary Buckett who arrived in Plymouth on the Ann in 1623. They had 9 children who lived to majority. He moved to Duxbury with his family in 1637. During his life, he served in various positions in government and accumulated a significant amount of property in Plymouth, Dartmouth and Duxbury. He died sometime between September 1677 and January 1679.  (For more specific details regarding his life, please see sources listed below or the biography by Robert Charles Anderson on the American Ancestors website (New England Historical and Genealogical Society.)

Yet, despite all they know about George after his arrival in Plymouth,  they still don’t know where George Soule came from.  Was he from England or Leiden? Who were his parents? Why was he chosen to be on the 1st ship? The Mayflower Society is still trying to figure this out through family associations, land distribution, record searches in England and Leiden and of course DNA.

In the The Mayflower Quarterly (TMQ) March 2008, the author suggests potential linkages to families in Leiden who were from southeastern England.  One of the possibilities is that George Soule came from John/Jean/Jan Soule/Sule/Solet (a Huguenot) of Canterbury. In the March 2009 TMQ, Caleb Johnson researched potential Soule origins in England.  Through a process of elimination, he discards Soule’s in Eckington, Strensham, Berrow, Redmarly d’Abitot, Flitwick, Bedforshire and Westwell. In his final analysis he believes that Geoge Soule of Tingrith has the best potential, but no conclusive evidence was found.  DNA seems like it is the going to be the only way to finally resolve the problem of where George actually came from.

Why does it matter to have a Mayflower ancestor?

As genealogists, we love a mystery, so many descendants would love to be the one to find a document that finally uncovers another line that no one else has been able to. That is true for me too for my other ancestors who are less “famous” than my Mayflower celebrity.  I do love the hunt, but I like a path a little less followed….sharing the road with troop of adventurers sounds crowded and bit boring.  So, I will leave the search for Soule’s parentage to other genealogists/historians and gratefully celebrate when they nail it down.

Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, MA

No, what I like about having George Soule in my family tree is that I think about the Mayflower, the Puritans, Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay Colonies differently now.  I used to think these people who came in 1620 as single dimensioned as the cardboard pictures on the walls of my 1st grade class at Thanksgiving and who were so theologically fussy that couldn’t get along with anyone, they packed up in huff to go to the New World. They weren’t very real.  When you find out that one of these Pilgrims actually “belongs” to you, it makes you want to know them at a deeper level. I have read about this part of history with an intensity and compassion to try to understand their motives, their struggles and their humanness.  It is interesting reading, because I can see George, Mary and their children facing illness, building their homes and farms from very little, finally worshiping in relative peace and living amongst Native Americans in a tentative balance of cooperation and tension. I have become fascinated and slightly horrified to see how it all turned out. When I went to Boston and Cape Cod, I saw with their eyes how it must have looked.  I saw how frightened and brave they must have been to cross the ocean and face the unknown and I was humbled.

Sources:

Anderson, Robert Charles. 1995. The great migration begins: immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Hotten, John Camden. 1962. The original lists of persons of quality, emigrants, religious exiles, political rebels, serving men sold for a term of years, apprentices, children stolen, maidens pressed, and others who went from Great Britain to the American plantations, 1600-1700; with their ages, the localities where they formerly lived in the mother country, the names of the ships in which they embarked, and other interesting particulars, from mss. preserved in the State Paper Department of Her Majesty’s Public Record Office, England. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co.

Johnson, Caleb. The Mayflower Quarterly March 2008, Caleb Johnson vol. 75 no.1.

New Plymouth Colony, Nathaniel Bradstreet Shurtleff, and David Pulsifer. 1968. Records of the colony of New Plymouth in New England: printed by order of the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. New York: AMS Press.

Philbrick, Nathaniel. 2006. Mayflower: a story of courage, community, and war. New York: Viking.

Soule, John E., Milton E. Terry, and Louise Walsh Throop. 2003. George Soule of the Mayflower and his descendants in the fifth and sixth generations. Part three, Family numbers 465-551. Plymouth, MA: General Society of Mayflower Descendants.

Troop, Louise Walsh. The Mayflower Quarterly March 2009 vol. 74, no.1.

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56 Responses to George Soule: Having a Mayflower Ancestor and the Legacy

  1. Kristie Paylor says:

    You write so well! Indeed, there is such a thrill in “finding” our ancestors and learning who they were and what their lives were like. They seem so courageous, true pioneers! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Holly says:

    I’d highly recommend the book by James and Patricia Deetz, “The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony.” They take a look at the contemporary lives of the Plymouth Colony residents to separate fact from fiction in our current perceptions of “the Pilgrims.” It gave me a totally different picture than the one ingrained in elementary school. By the way, George Soule is also “my” Mayflower passenger.

    • Rachelle says:

      I haven’t read that particular book about Plymouth, so I will add it to the list. Thanks for the recommendation. Also, very nice to meet a cousin! Have you thought about joining the Mayflower Society?

  3. James Soule says:

    Hello! My name is James Soule and my aunt and I were able to do some research and found that George Soule is our ancestor through his son George Jr.! I was very excited to see that other people out there have been doing research as well! I was wondering if you had any advice on how to start a website about my genealogical history?

    • Rachelle says:

      James, there are many ways to blog or create websites for family history. My blog is sort of “organic”, but tends to focus on particular ancestors and the historical context of their lives. It’s the part that interests me – not just the discovery of the ancestors themselves, but who they were and how did they respond to the historical events that occurred in their lifetimes.

      I have 2 suggestions:
      1) Checkout Geneabloggers for other blogs that do genealogy. http://geneabloggers.com/
      2) Either take a class at your local genealogy society or online class from Family Tree University on websites and blogs: http://www.familytreeuniversity.com/courses/view-all-courses/

      Good luck and I look forward to seeing what you do. Send me the link when you get it up and running!

    • James Soule says:

      I AM jAMES sOULE 87 YRS mY GRAND fathers name was Lafrance soule I don’t know where to go from here

      • Rachelle says:

        James, I am afraid there is no easy way to work your way back to your original Soule ancestor. Genealogy takes time going back to 10+ generations. There are the Mayflower “pink books” that have 5 generations of descendants of George Soule, but that is something you will want to look at after you have worked your way back through each generation starting with you, your father, your grand-father, your great-grandfather etc. Ancestry.com is a good way to start by looking through the census records. Also, taking a beginners genealogy class through a local genealogy society or library. I have recently joined Soule Kindred in America http://www.soulekindred.org/members/home and that organization might have members that are related to you in more recent generations. I wish you luck! Rachelle

  4. Kristi says:

    I, too, am a descendent of George Soule through his son, George, Jr.

  5. jim soule says:

    Congratulations, I am also a George Soule descendent, thru his son John. True enough, once you feel connected you can’t help thinking about these people from a much more human perspective, like seriously, how did they really get by day to day?
    jim soule (13th generation)

  6. Rachelle says:

    Hello cousin! Yes, I continue to read about this time period with great interest. Just picked up Makng Haste from Babylon by Nick Bunker for more reading about the period. Do you have a favorite book about the Soule Family?

  7. Andrea Sue Vinall Little says:

    Thank you for your article. I am also a descendent of George Soule through his son, George. You have inspired me to do more in-depth searching for information about all the Pilgrims and their lives. Thank you!

    • Rachelle says:

      Thanks so much for your kind feedback and always fun to know about new relative! Let me know if you find out some interesting information. Take care!

  8. Kathleen Sargent Litch says:

    I’m also related to the George Soule family……….through John, Joshua, Ezekiel, Amassa, Samual, Melissa Jane who married Ebenezer Hinkley,daughter Helen Melicent Hinkley who married Ernest Leroy Bryant, daughter Dorcas Maud Hinkley who married John W. Sargent, son James D. Sargent, and finally myself……….Kathleen Sargent Litch.

    • Rachelle says:

      Always fun to connect to a cousin! Isn’t amazing that we can find records that link us for that many generations? Hope you enjoy your research and let me know if you find out any interesting facts about Grandfather George and his family!

  9. Ceresce says:

    I have just come to find out that I am a descendent of John Soule I, who is the son of George Soule.

    • Rachelle says:

      There are quite a few people who commented on this post that are related through John. Good luck in your research!

  10. Andrea says:

    Rachelle ~ I thoroughly enjoyed your blog post on Grandfather George! I am also a descendant, though through his son Nathaniel. Happy researching!

    • Rachelle says:

      Thank you for the feedback! It is very rewarding to have people read my blog and find it interesting, as well as useful. Good luck in your own research!

  11. Wow – love your style of writing! I am descended from George Soule as well – BUT – through his daughter Elizabeth (the one who was whipped at the post for having sex!). Thru Ancestry.com I connected with a previously unknown cousin by virtue of posting my 2x great grandmother’s photo. Coincidently, while in a blog, I was contacted by Soule researcher and author Louise Throop who encouraged us to pursue our discovery. We became the FIRST members of the Nat’l Mayflower Society under Elizabeth. It doesn’t change WHO I am, but it sure changes my perspective.

    • Rachelle says:

      What a great story about Elizabeth! I think the relatives that got in trouble are much more interesting than the “good” ones! I haven’t applied for the Mayflower Society yet, as I have to prove the connection through the Holloway’s (via Beekman Patent documentation) and just haven’t had time to do the homework for it. I admire you for your perseverance and doing all the work…have any helpful hints for the process???

      • Lynn Patterson says:

        First -do you know about the group “Soule Kindred.” Dues are $35 a year, you get an online booklet quarterly (and/or a printed copy) plus you have access to ALL the back issues as well as the individual articles. Members submit stories. I believe they would LOVE to reprint your George story. Want me to check it out or send you contact info?
        Louise Throop has so much research – she could tell you how far down your ancestry has already been proven. Do you have any of the Mayflower Society “Pink Books”? She and I maintain email contact and I know she would be glad to assist you. All state associations are different – costs, expertise, zeal, etc. I joined thru California (one time charge $150) because she likes working with a particular researcher with her same passion. (I live in Wyoming!) Now I can transfer to whatever state I want -not just Wyoming.

  12. Rachelle says:

    Lynn, that is a great idea to join “Soule Kindred”. I do have all 3 of the pink books for George Soule. I didn’t know that I could join a different State society than the one I live in and I would definitely prefer to join one that is active. So, yes I would love an introduction to Louise Throop if you wouldn’t mind? Thanks so much for your interest and assistance!

    • Lynn Patterson says:

      I have been way busy since July – Class Reunion and a Family Reunion within a week of each other. I just emailed Louise with the link to your blog so I believe she will be getting with you! I told her I would love to see your Soule story reprinted in Soule Kindred. By the way, there is one edition of Soule Kindred that addressed all the spellings and pronunciations of Soule. Hint: there are many spelling, but research done through time indicates there is just one pronunciation – Soule, soul, sole, cole – that is it.
      PS – which child of George’s do you believe is your ancestor?

      • Rachelle says:

        I definitely understand busy…I just moved from Seattle to Tennessee, so no worries! I have wondered how to pronounce Soule correctly so glad for the clarification. I come through George (1), George (2), William (3), Hannah (4) who marries Joseph Holloway (Holway).

        Many thanks for putting me in touch with Louise and would be more than happy to be published in Soule Kindred! Oh, I must start working on doing the paperwork for the society…. I just joined Soule Kindred, so that is a good first step.

  13. carolyn marie miller says:

    I am the granddaughter of norman leslie sowel from indiana .

    • Rachelle says:

      That is a spelling I haven’t seen yet, but I know there are so many! Isn’t it amazing how many descendants George Soule had?

  14. montana says:

    I am also related to him we still have the family tree that has the proof also I am one of the 12 daughters of the American revolution

  15. Scott Soule says:

    Do you have any details on the DNA work that is being done to find George’s origins? (I’m also a direct decedent of George.)

    • Rachelle says:

      If you search on George Soule DNA on the web, you will see that there are a few organizations that are doing studies. Family Tree DNA looks like they have some updated findings. Definitely worth checking out if you are direct descendent with that Y chromosome!

  16. danny says:

    Hi Rachelle, i am the other Elizabeth Soule ancestor that Lynn was writing about. Lynn and I are currently the only ones listed on the registry via Elizabeth. Lynn has a wealth of ideas and resources to guide someone through the not so easy process of becomming an official decendant. I could not have done it without her encouragment and support. i have also done dna studies and could provide some info if people are really interested. my web site, to get an idea of my current interests, is findingmyfamily.org btw you do write well!

    • Rachelle says:

      Thanks for connecting and the compliment on writing! It looks like you have a variety of genealogy projects…just like a typical genealogist, it is so hard to stay focused on one when there are so many interesting people to research! How is your WWI book coming?

      Yes, I do need to finally pursue getting into the Society. I am working on writing an article about 4 brothers who served in the Civil War…so after that is completed, maybe I will work on good old George Soule. That is probably going to require some travel to New York to work on some documentation from the 1700’s which would be fun!

  17. Lynn Patterson says:

    I just rec’d the new newsletter from Soule Kindred but did not see your name as a new member – taking into account you may have a “pen name.” Soule Kindred just announced the Soule Kindred Family Tree Database – where they have entered 4 generations and others will continue with their associations and be able to collaborate in real time with others. They say they are the only Mayflower group they know of that is working on a complete ONE TREE project. I have just gotten my go ahead to enter data and will have a phone conference this weekend to get me started! Exciting. If you want to correspond directly, my email is lynnietoo@yahoo.com. Thanks.

    • Rachelle says:

      Lynn, I think I may have just missed the window of publication. I think I registered as Rachelle (no pen name). I am intrigued by the One Tree Project. Let me know how it goes for you. My e-mail address is: phoenixjoy@me.com if you want to correspond that way. Have a good weekend!

  18. Lynn Patterson says:

    Hi Rachelle – Soule Kindred has a new editor. I just sent her an email with a link to your George Soule blog -suggesting she may want to include it in a future newsletter. Her name is Kathleen Kingman.

  19. Rachelle says:

    Lynn, thanks for the e-mail to Kathleen. She and I exchanged e-mails earlier this year and I said I would be interested in writing an article for the newsletter after I had surgery. I am now completely recovered and your e-mail has reminded me to get back in touch with Kathleen. Thanks! Hope you are well!

  20. Kim Hartwick says:

    Enjoyed your blog. I connect to good old George too. Amazing how families lose the stories like this. I put it up to all of us moving and moving. People who still live in Mass. Seem to all have known about their connection all their lives. My project this fall is teaching our Grandson Sam (5)about George and the Pilgrims. We are starting with a little voiced over presentation of drawings and paintings done of the era. So that is how I found you this morning. Looking for media. 😀

    • Rachelle says:

      Thanks for your comments. I hope my Grandson will be interested in all the family history I have collected when he gets old enough. Good for you for passing it all on, so the next generation doesn’t forget!

  21. Cherie says:

    Rachelle,
    I just found your blog in a search for George Soule info. You expressed my feelings exactly about finding a Mayflower passenger in my tree. I just got my papers from GSMD and invitiation from the Washington State Mayflower Society. I get to attend my first meeting in November in Bellevue.
    I am also looking for info on medical camps in Virginia. There is one line in my 2x great-grandmother’s obit about her working at a camp in Virginia during the Civil War. Her husband was a Captain in the 15th regiment from Vermont. I will look for the book you recommended.
    Thank you for your blog.

    • Rachelle says:

      Cherie,
      I admire you for applying to the Mayflower Society. It has been on my list for a while and I haven’t gotten to it. Your 2x great grandmother sounds fascinating; I will check out your blog to hear more of that story! Thanks for reading!

  22. Leigh Haines says:

    Just found out we go back George Souls through his daughter Patience. I’m so excited to learn so much more.

  23. Hoss says:

    Descendant of Susanna Soule branch of our tree out of Rhode Island.

    Curious, has any of the direct Soule descendants taken Y-DNA test (STR & SNP)? There are number of haplogroups showing up on Familytreedna George Soule project. Any thoughts to actual haplogroup of George Soule?

    • Rachelle says:

      There is at least one DNA project related to George Soule that I know about. There are articles in the Mayflower Quarterly from March 2006, March 2008 and March 2009 that discuss the results of using DNA to find George’s origins. I would also check out the Soule Kindred website and check with the administrators if they know of others. http://www.soulekindred.org/

  24. Kimberly says:

    Hi My name is Kim… I’ve been doing my family tree and I found out that I am a descendant of George soule through his daughter Susanna. I would love to get info on his parents. I know Ive read several articles that said there is none, but if you have come across someone who has legit info please let me know. Thanks

    • Rachelle says:

      George Soule still doesn’t have any identified parents. There was an article in the recent newsletter of Soule Kindred about a possible man with the last name of Saule (I think), but it doesn’t seem likely after the research was done. So, the search continues!

  25. Janice Earliene Carr says:

    Hi! I am also a descendant of GEORGE SOULE (Pilgrim) & Mary Beckette through their Son, George 2 & Deborah Thomas Soule, through son William & Hannah EATON Soule, through son Benjamin & Mary Holloway Soule, through son Joseph & (?) Holloway Soule ~
    (NOT PROVEN BY ME!), through son Joshua & Elizabeth Cartrette Soles of Columbus County N.C. (ONLY SOULES LINE TO GEORGE 1)
    If you want the rest, I will be happy to send!) jehc

    I saw somewhere where you are descended from a NOAH STEVENS, a descendant of George Soule of the Mayflower) son of Eliphilate Stevens & Elsie Holloway whose parents Joshua Holloway & Hannah Soule (related to me through Mary Holloway Soles, my 3rd great-grandma married to Benjamin ~ above).
    I am descended from a Noah Stevens of Bladen/Columbus Co., N.C. ~ ( as I have not traced his family, only have descendants, as his daughter Sara “Sally” is my Gr.Gr. Grandmother married to John Darling Walker II)
    I have a copy of his will as well as having it published in a book on our County in 2009, & also published in the NC Genealogical Society Newsletter about 2010/11.
    Would you know if these two Noah Stevens are related? Especially since both had ancestors & relatives in the same county? Jehc 5-22-16
    Janice Earliene Harrelson Carr of C.C.N.C..

    • Rachelle says:

      Hi Janice,

      Thanks for your note about how we are related through George Soule. I am not a descendant of Noah Stevens, but I am related to his mother Elsie Holloway. I am a descendant of her sister Lydia Holloway. Their parents were Hannah Soule (daughter of William, George, George) and Joseph Holloway. I think it is interesting how your Soule/Holloway lines migrated to North Carolina and mine went to New York. (I have other lines in North Carolina, but not these!). I am interested to know if your Holloway/Stevens were Quakers? I know my Holloway’s were for a few generations, but don’t think they remained so after they moved to New York and Lydia married into the Hunt family. Where did Eliphilate Stevens and Elsie Holloway live? Thanks!

      • Janice Earliene Carr says:

        Hi cousin! 6-5-16
        I apologize for the error of Joseph Holloway’s name (I had Joshua instead), but I meant Joseph! There are so many intermarriages, it’s hard to keep up with as I’m related through several other lines to many of their other Children as well. Benjamin, Joseph & Joshua SOULES/ Sowels/Soles all three went on down, & settled in N C in & around same areas ~ Many Holloways too! That is why I thought ~ MY Noah Stephens (he & siblings have been proven) could be a connection to ElsieHolloway & Eliphilate Stephens’ son Noah? I ran across him accidently doing research on Benjamin Soule & Mary Holloway, my 3rd Gr. Grandparents through another line. I think you might have misunderstood what I was saying, or I did’t write it correctly (having problems w/my eyes) so I apologize!
        (I NEVER FOUND PROOF OF MY NOAH’s PARENTS)
        I was hoping I had found a connection this time.
        No, I never knew anything about Elsie or her husband, children or siblings.
        Thanks for responding. Jan

      • Rachelle says:

        Thanks for the clarification…you are so right with all the intermarriages between families and similar naming patterns it is easy for us all to get confused! I hope you find Noah’s parents and you very well could be on the right path. if you do find out more about them, let me know. Good luck! Rachelle

  26. Lynn Patterson-McBride says:

    Hi Rachel – there are two facebook groups for Soule Kindred. One is the Soule Kindred in America public page. I joined awhile back but I made my first post tonight and shared the url for your July 2102 article on George Soule.

  27. I just posted the URL to your blog of July 2012 on George Soule to the Soule Kindred in America public group. There are two groups – one where they make posts and this one where members interact. Thought I would let you know. Lynn

    • Rachelle says:

      Lynn, how kind of you to post the link to my blog posting. I will check out the Facebook page. Thanks!

  28. Chris Soule says:

    I believe we are related, cheers

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