Our Pilgrim Ancestor George Soule

It’s Thanksgiving time and as you share your blessings with your family and friends this year here is some new information about our family heritage.

For several years I have researched our early ancestors migration from England to America. Ancestors from the Bernard Hancock family line include the Thomas Brigham family who came to America in 1634 and settled in Marlboro and Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Robert Goodell family came to America in 1634 and settled in Salem, Massachusetts.

On Mary Frances Foreman (Hancock) side of the family George Squires marriage records indicate George was married in Concord, Connecticut in 1639 and he died in 1691 in Fairfield, Connecticut. Daniel Scofield, son of Sir Cuthburt Scofield came to Connecticut in 1639 and paid 25 pounds sterling for ten acres as a founder of Stamford, Connecticut.

But the most exciting discovery I have made in the last few months is that of George Soule, a signer of the Mayflower compact. His descendents are part of the Mary Frances Foreman (Hancock) line through her grandmother Mary Salina Kenyon Squires.

Mary Salina Kenyon Squires

Here is the story as published in the Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, ‘Descendants Of The Pilgrims Who Landed At Plymouth, Mass. December 1620’ published by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1980.

George Soule, born in England probably between 1593 and 1600, died in Duxbury before 22 Jan 1679 (O>S>) when his inventory was taken by Edward Southworth and Thomas Delano. The tentative dates for his birth are based on his signing of the Mayflower Compact in 1620 and his death in 1679. As a signer of the Compact he must have been twenty, the known age of Gilbert Winslow. Since a life span of eighty-five was rare in those days he was born probably not much earlier than 1593.

The wife whom he married probably in Plymouth before 1626 was Mary Bucket (Becket) who arrived in Plymouth before 31 July 1623 aboard the Anne. She died in Duxbury in December 1676. She has not been identified.

Probably no other of the Pilgrim band has been so exhaustively researched as George Soule. Charles Edward Banks, himself a descendant of the Pilgrim, spent years attempting to determine the antecedents of his ancestor. Roland Soule tells us that “after studying all available American records he made a ‘long sojourn’ in England in 1922 and 1923 in an effort to determine the Soule parentage”. In the chapter written by Banks for Gideon G.T. Ridlon’s “Sole, Solly, Soule, Sowlee and Soulis”, Banks had cited as the father of George Soule, Robert Soule of Eckingham whom, he reported, had three sons Thomas, Robert and George named in his will of 1612. Banks’ conclusion was that George the youngest son, ‘answers best of all the candidates the demands of identification in point of time, locality and relationship to the Sole family which had contact with Governor Winslow in London and Worcestershire”. However, later in the same chapter he stated that the parish records prior to 1612 had been lost but that “an examination of the years remaining show that a George Soule married in 1631 and that a Nathaniel Soule, presumably his son, was baptized three years later”. This then disposed of George, son of Robert, since he could not have been the Pilgrim.

In recent years extensive searches have been made in English parish records but despite all these investigations the parentage and a birthplace of George Soule are still undiscovered. A most interesting and thought provoking article by Roland P. Soule on a possible father for George Soule appeared in the Soule Kindred Newsletter for October 1978. The search still goes on.

George Soule joined, probably in London, a company of adventurers off to the New World. His status is clearly established as a “servant” to relatively wealthy Pilgrim Edward Winslow, also as a signer of the famed Mayflower Compact of 11 Nov 1620, O.S. It appears logical, therefore, to assume that Winslow bore the cost of his passage to Plymouth aboard the Mayflower. The original New Plimoth Colony Records, William Bradford’s “Of Plimoth Plantation, 1620-1647”, Plymouth Registry of Deeds and Probates, Bristol County Registry of Deeds, Plymouth Town Records, Duxbury Town Records and other authoritative sources provide sufficient evidence upon which to base a comprehensive sketch of George Soule’s life in New England. Unlike some of his colleagues, he never returned to his homeland. However, suffice to say that he became a relatively well-to-do leader, business man and office holder in Plymouth Colony. As early as July 1627 George Soule was one of a group of fifty-eight “Purchase or Old Comers” who assumed Plymouth Colony’s debt to “The Adventurers”, the promoters and capitalists who financed the voyage of the Mayflower and other early ventures and expenses of the colony. In return the group received profitable trading concessions in Maine, at Cape Ann, on Buzzard’s Bay and subsequently on the Connecticut River. The General Court voted 5 March 1639/40 to pay these “Purchasers or Old Comers” for the surrender of their patent. Existing land records show tha he acquired extensive holdings in Duxbury, Dartmouth, Middleboro, Marshfield and Bridgewater but resided only in Plymouth and Duxbury or “Ducksburrow” as it was called originally.

On 27 Sept 1642 he appeared before the General Court as one of two “Deputies” or representatives from Duxbury, Plymouth Colony having established representative government in 1639 after finding it no longer practicable to have all the colonists participate as individuals. The representatives were limited to terms of one year and denied the right of succession so we find George Soule serving each alternate year for many years, with increasing assignments such as forming a committee 26 Oct 1646 with Anthony Thatcher “to draw up an order concerning disorderly drinking of tobacco”.

Early in 1637 the Pequot Indians “fell openly upon the English at Connecticut”. In response to a plea for assistance, the Plymouth General Court agreed forthwith to send fifty men. George Soule volunteered for this service 7 June 1637 as one of 42 men under Lieutenant William Holmes and Reverend Thomas Prence as chaplain “but when they were ready to march . . . they had word to stay; for the enemy was as good as vanquished and there would be no need.” The Society of Colonial Wars recognizes the eligibility for membership of any descendant of George Soule by reason of this “service” which, strictly speaking, was not actually performed. An eye witness also has identified one “George Soute, Sr.” as having occupied the fort at Middleboro for six weeks in 1675 during King Philip’s War. Admitting that Pilgrim George Soule was an original proprietor of Middleboro, the disposal of his property there in 1668 and his advancing age, lend credibility to a theory that the member of the fort party was actually the Pilgrim’s son George Soule (1639-1704)

Children of GEORGE SOULE and MARY BECKETT are:
i. ZACHARIAH3 SOULE, b. 1627, Plymouth, Plymouth, MA; d. Bef. Dec 11, 1663, Duxbury, Plymouth, MA; m. MARGARET FORD, Nov 22, 1646, Plymouth; d. Aft. Mar 1664.
He died during the 1663 Canadian Expedition and his estate went to his brother John.
2. ii. JOHN SOULE, b. 1632, Plymouth, Plymouth, MA; d. 1707, Duxbury, Plymouth, MA.
3. iii. NATHANIEL SOULE, b. 1637, Plymouth, Plymouth, MA; d. Oct 12, 1699, Dartmouth, Bristol, MA.
4. iv. GEORGE SOULE, JR., b. 1639, Duxbury, Plymouth, MA; d. May 12, 1704, Dartmouth, Bristol, MA.
5. v. SUSANNAH SOULE, b. Apr 25, 1642, Duxbury, Plymouth, MA; d. Jan 2, 1684, North Kingstown, Washington, RI.
6. vi. MARY SOULE, b. May 1644, Duxbury, Plymouth, MA; d. 1720, Plymouth, Plymouth, MA.
7. vii. ELIZABETH SOULE, b. 1645, Duxbury, Plymouth, MA; d. 1700, Woodbridge, Middlesex, NJ.
8. viii. PATIENCE SOULE, b. 1648, Duxbury, Plymouth, MA; d. Mar 11, 1706, Middleboro, Plymouth, MA.
ix. BENJAMIN SOULE, b. 1651, Duxbury, Plymouth, MA; d. Mar 26, 1676, Pawtucket, Providence, RI.
Killed in action by Indians before Pawtucket, RI, on March 26, 1676 during King Philip’s War. Nothing has been found to suggest that he married or ever sired any children.

The second generation of our descendants comes from George’s daughter Susannah Soule who married Francis West.

The line continues with their son William West, his son Benjamin West, his son Benjamin West, his son Joseph West, his daughter Adelia C. West who married Thomas Kenyon their daughter Mary Salina Kenyon who married Edwin R. Squires, their daughter Grace Irene Squires who married Robert Sidney Foreman, their daughter Mary Frances Foreman who married Bernard Hancock, their children, 1)Grace Evelyn 2)Pearl 3)Charlotte 4)Charlene 5)Dorothy 6)Shirley and 7)Robert Hancock.