Show ContentsSowle History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Sowle is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Sowle family lived in Derbyshire. Their name, however, is a reference to Subligny, Normandy, the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

Early Origins of the Sowle family

The surname Sowle was first found in Derbyshire where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. They were descended from a noble who accompanied King William whose home in Normandy was at Subligny near Avranche. Richard Subligny was Bishop of Avranches. They acquired considerable estates in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset by marriage with the Painells, but their main estates were at Newton Solney which later became Soley, and Sola.

"The men of Sole," according to Wace, were conspicuous at the battle of Hastings, "striking at close quarters, and holding their shields over their heads so as to receive the blows of the hatchet." The fief of Soules was held of the Honour of St. Lo at the time of the Conquest; but was soon afterwards granted to the chapter of Bayeux. Under Henry II., there was a William de Soules who held three knight's fees in Normandy; two of them in the Comte of Mortaine. [1]

Early rolls give a widespread use of the name and its many variants: William de la Sole was listed in the Curia Regis Rolls for Sussex in 1207; Thomas atte Sole was listed in Surrey in 1294; Hamo de Soles was found in Kent records in 1242; Osbert Sole was found in the Curia Regis Rolls for Norfolk in 1203; Walter Sole in Cambridgeshire in 1207; and Godfrey Osbert le Sol in the Hundredorum Rolls for Essex in 1274 and later again the Subsidy Rolls for Worcestershire in 1275. [2]

The Kentish branch of this name (of whom John de Soles bought Betshanger in 1347) derived it from the manor of Soles (Domesday Book) in the parish of Nonington. This family was in early times most powerful in Scotland, where it gave its name to the barony of Soulistoun - now Saltoun - in East Lothian. Ranulph de Soulis witnesses a Stirling charter of David I.: and either he, or one of his successors, is styled Pincerna Regis. They were frequent benefactors to Newbottle Abbey and other monasteries; and " their power," says Sir Walter Scott, "extended over the South and West Marches, where they appear to have possessed the whole district of Liddesdale, with five rich baronies in Roxburghshire.[1]

Early History of the Sowle family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sowle research. Another 270 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1281, 1291, 1300, 1302, 1318, 1595 and 1679 are included under the topic Early Sowle History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sowle Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Sola, Soul, Soule, Sole, Sooley, Soole, Solley, Sollee, Soully, Sully, Soley, Solney and many more.

Early Notables of the Sowle family

More information is included under the topic Early Sowle Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Sowle family to Ireland

Some of the Sowle family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Sowle migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Sowle or a variant listed above:

Sowle Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Georg Sowle, who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620 [3]
  • George Sowle, who landed in Massachusetts in 1620 [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Sowle (post 1700) +

  • Diana Sowle (1930-2018), née Laumer, an American actress of film and theater, best known for her role as Mrs. Bucket (Charlie Bucket's mother) in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
  • Nathaniel P. Sowle (b. 1857), American Republican politician, Member of Massachusetts State House of Representatives Eighth Bristol District, 1904-06 [4]
  • Frederick D. Sowle, American Republican politician, Member of Massachusetts State House of Representatives Eighth Bristol District, 1923-24 [4]
  • Donald N. Sowle, American politician, Mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, 1995 [4]
  • Jennifer Sowle (b. 1977), American classically trained coloratura soprano


  1. Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 23) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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