The Book of Soden

 History of the  Soden Family 1146 - 1950

Sligo 2

Evidence comes from a number of sources:



The pedigree prepared for James Soden, Toronto  in the 1970s and the dates rendered therein and  corroborated by the Bourton-on-Dunsmore Parish  Registers for the late 16th. century.




The presence in Ireland  at this time of the Temple family,Fiennes and other Warwickshsire and Oxfordshire names indicate there was a representation from that shire in the country.



The mention in  Grove of Robert Sodden in 1651 as a private soldier,in Youghal,Co. Cork


The allotment of lands in Carbury, Sligo to Cromwellian soldiers  in 1652 and subsequent years.


The Betham Pedigree in the National Library,Dublin. 

Although the first occurrence of the Soden name is in Youghal in Cork in 1651,the first residence of the Sodens was in Grange,Co.Sligo , in the beautiful North-West of Ireland.  Here in this fine maritime and rural county Thomas Soden is recorded in the 1659  census as  'titulado'  in the townland of Grange , north of Sligo town on the road to Bundoran.   Local legend has it he got the land from an English officer for the sum of   £300 pounds sterling  , because the man   found the area too wild for his liking, as recorded in the De Valera Folklore Collection of UCD but  I have found no evidence to support this claim as yet.    The likelihood is that Thomas Soden and brother Robert Soden got it for their part in the Cromwellian campaign started in 1649 under the 1652 settlement of payment to soldiers as mentioned by  Dunlop  .

This was later consolidated by the 1660 Act of Settlement and in 1682.  In the Hearth Money Rolls of 1665 we find 2 Thomas Sodens , perhaps a father and son in Grange and Kilcat , Sligo  (though Thomas   Jnr. could well have been the son of  Robert , brother of Thomas senior )  and by the 1680's there was  a number of Sodens , particularly in Sligo town , John , Thomas  and Robert Soden with Edward/Edm(o)und Soden in Monenean as  a Wynne tenant. The names Edward and Edmond are constantly interchanged or similarly abbreviated at this time.


The discovery of the  extant 1821 census for my area in Co. Cavan was an incredible stroke of good luck but this is paled by the contribution of the wonderful Mr. Grove and his abstracts.

 To find a 50-page exercise copybook filled with every conceivable piece of miscellaneous information taken from so many sources now mostly destroyed in 1922 on our family name   was a moment of rare delight. In this work were corroborated many hitherto uncertain details such as that Thomas Soden had a brother , Robert , or the existence of the Longford and Athlone family group with his transcriptions of the 1821 census for that area which is destroyed.

Only someone deeply involved in Irish genealogy will really appreciate the importance and value of such a find. Should anyone ever question the validity of such a chronological source as this , let them look to Mr. Grove's achievement . The Grove discovery convinced me of the inestimable need for a detailed chronological source to our family from which means any  branch may draw and tell the unique story of their own development over the last half millenium.


THOMAS SODEN is mentioned for the first time officially as 'titulado' in Grange . This means he had Grange just after the Cromwellian period and in the year 1688 was granted 168 acres in the townland of Lislahely , at the foot of Ben Bulben with others like Michelburne , Jackson , etc,.. How THOMAS SODEN  acquired Grange is not officially known. I put very little store on the local renderings related in Joe McGowan's book which do not concur with the seisal of land during this Cromwellian time   which  was  thorough and precise and by no means arbitrary.  THOMAS SODEN it seems lived with his brother , ROBERT in this area and this is where the first controversy occurs.

 ROBERT SODEN (1591 / 1643)

Who was ROBERT? He is mentioned  in 2 reports and then we hear nothing of him. According to the Pedigree of the Genealogical Office he is the progenitor of all the Sodens. The astounding coincidence for me is the fact that in the work by RONALD SODEN , 'The Sodens of Coventry' , there are a THOMAS and   ROBERT SODEN , born at the same time in Warwickshire ,as the dates of the Genealogical Office ,living in the area with similar family names as those mentioned , on the demesne of the Temples of Burton Dassett (John Temple being a rabid anti-papist at this time) and all record of these vanishes about the year 1643.There is though a record of the birth to a Robert  & Jeane Soden of a daughter,Elizabeth in Templemore , Derry in 1691 , which may prove of some significance later.They joined Parliamentarian forces in Warwickshire and later came to Ireland as planters in the hope like many at the time of bettering their situation abroad.

Of course , the most convincing evidence is that of the redoubtable Betham , whose pedigree for the Sligo Sodens whose the two brothers Thomas and Robert  and their issue. Betham had all the requisite facts before him for his judgement . I believe that on the death of ROBERT , THOMAS  made a claim to the Court of Claims for his lands.

The Bourton-on-Dunsmore parish records show a death of ROBERT SODEN in 1643 , though the 'Irish' ROBERT is alive later. The fact that THOMAS SODEN lived to such an advanced age , at least 105 years , if not 109 years as recorded on the headstone in Drumcliff  is very useful in researching this branch. Moneygold with Grange became the main residence of the Sodens in Sligo for two centuries with frequent recordings of lands held from various big landlords in Carbury barony. 


Although very little has been written about them , the Chester Refugees  were protestants who fled to Chester in 1689 at the time of the Battle of the Boyne to avoid the Catholic forces at the time and later  returned with the advent of William of Orange. As you can see THOMAS SODEN was 94 years of age and had a wife , CATHERINE and a child .

I do not know who this child could be but it may well have been the child of   THOMAS SODEN Jnr. recorded in the Hearth Money Rolls of 166(5)5.  In the Betham abstracts in the GO,there is mention of THOMAS SODDEN and his brother ROBERT , and his wife , KATHARINE.The fact that the 1689 will mentions John Pugh as the brother of Katharine in Chester and his business as a shopkeeper. The Chester Guild documents have not yet been completely transcribed  but may well shed important new light on these two families.


The Index to the Decrees of Innocents is interesting as ROBERT SODDIN appears here and so indicating that he and his family were anti-royalist and with the Restoration of Charles II had to prove their loyalty. O'Rorke in his work on Sligo remarks on Soden that he held onto his place at Grange with great tenacity and speaks with great bitterness about the Cromwellian settlers. It is interesting to hear Established Church of Ireland  Protestants speaking with such bitterness against these new settlers,although they as colonists had done the same thing prior to the Cromwellians. However , some with time felt entitled to rule the country more that these politically different upstarts.


The reference to Soden in Lewis is valuable .However , Lewis like many foreigners touching on Irish history neglects precision for the story. This refers to a plaque still in Drumcliff Protestant church , which we encountered first as children on our regular visits to Mullaghmore.The inscription is for a THOMAS SODEN!!! , who died in 1700 at 105 years , and not JAMES as stated in Lewis. This plaque is still in the foyer of the church,though somewhat frayed. I believe according to James Soden , Toronto that this plaque was erected by Major Eccles , who was married to Isabella Letitia Soden. She was the daughter of James Nicholson Soden , and she was organist in the Ahamplish  church for years. She  has  done an embroidery of the Soden crest , which is now in Toronto , Canada. The existence of a cup/chalice  from Stuart/Williamite period is also alluded to by the rector?s wife  of Drumcliff in the 1930s but its whereabouts is unknown. Major and Mrs. Eccles  also presented James Arthur Soden , Toronto  with the diary of Thomas Soden , Provost, 1787 ? 1818 which he later donated to the Sligo Archives. He possesses a painting done by the son of Isabella Letitia Soden , of Grange Castle.


From the year 1706 to the 1730's we see regular mention of the Soden as Sheriffs in Sligo. This job was an important office at this time often bringing unpopularity on the bearer because of the nature of the duties.

Three  Sodens , Thomas , Edward  and  James  held this office in 1674 ,1730 and 1736.


In the year 1711 we come across HONORIA SODEN,who conformed to Protestantism from presumably Catholicism,I gather,to keep ownership of her lands. This is the first record of Honora/Honoria/Nora in the family. This means the Soden name is associated with Catholicism at an early stage some member having obviously married a local , she being of the Conyngham family .Certainly the Sodens of Drumrat and Templevanny have been Catholic since at least the 1820's.

To us, of course, today the notion of religion means very little, but then it was a license to live in peace as the Penal Laws were harsher even than Apartheid for those Catholics convicted under them.

This fact taken from the Convert Rolls to the Established Protestant Church has always interested me .This mixed marraige could entail total loss of property and may well be a reason for the conforming of HONORIA SODEN. With this Honora is linked the name Conyngham. The next occasion we meet the name Conyngham is with Ensign R. Conyngham Soden, 35th Regiment of Foot in 1798 .


Towards the end of the 18th century the Sodens decrease in number in Sligo,I believe,mainly because of the prevailing laws on marraige settlement at the time,where large tracts of land were forfeited away as dowries,intermarraige with Catholics and ,thus,loss of or decrease in size of property meaning movement to other counties such as Leitrim,Longford,Meath, Cavan and Dublin.Due to the loss of Parish Records and Census  precise information on developments within the families is hard to extrapolate.

The 2 daughters, Elizabeth and Catherine,  of James Soden and Jane Wynne eventually ceded their lands into the names of their respective husbands Kendrick Manley and Cairncross Cullen. The Cullen properties were finally sold under the Encumbered Estate Acts of 1852.  Before their father , James , died  when they were just 3 and 4 years of age , he tried with  great determination to hold possession of these properties for his two infant daughters. Eventually the prevailing  right of husbands to control all property interests at this time triumphed.

These early Sodens particularly in Sligo in collaboration with many other families alternated the responsible civic posts   till the mid-19th century,and so held such offices as provost of the town and sheriff. There is recorded by Wood-Martin of James Soden being a member of the Sligo Free Masons in the year 1792 , as shown by the Masonic records in Dublin. Indeed a John Henry Soden founded   the Mohill Lodge of the Free Masons in 1865 , being previously associated with the branch in Carrick-on-Shannon.

The more prominent Soden names  in the history of this area up to the middleof the 19th century were Thomas Soden(b.1594/d.1700),Edmund Soden (b. 1680/d.1757),Clotworthy Soden (b. 1745/d.1814),Thomas Soden,Provost,( b. 1745/d. 1818)  and Capt. James Soden,(b. 1779 /d. 18??). Although there is no corpus of original correspondence  extant from the Soden  families of this time in the form of letters,bibles, it can be well ascertained from deeds ,wills ,marraige settlements and the Sligo Provost's notes that the Sodens of this period had extensive contacts and connections with the Establishment families ,of course,Protestant ,in the Sligo area and in the Northwest at this time  in general. The names of Vernon,Wynne,Follyot,Gillmore, Hamilton, Hillas,McGowan and many others occur with great frequency.

 1798 / The Year of the Insurrection

The Sligo Sodens were staunchly Protestant and British in contrast to the majority of the population in the Sligo area .This is evident by the full-hearted participation  of Thomas Soden and his brother , Clotworthy Soden,Rector of Maghera , in opposition to the 1798 Insurrection in the northwest as evidenced by the material in the Rebellion Papers cited for the period . The naming of Thomas Soden  in the Private Diary at Wexford Museum is in fact incorrect as the Soden involved was Capt. Mossom Soden from the Somerset Regiment , who had been in Ireland recruiting  since 1794 . It is from these Sligo families that we eventually see some members take up residence in the neighbouring counties of Donegal and Derry to the north,and Leitim and Longford to the southeast .The towns of Mohill , Ballinamore , Ballinalee , Edgeworthstown , Athlone  were among the Soden residences  from the beginning of the 19th century.

 Another member of some interest is CLOTWORTHY SODEN , son of  JAMES SODEN and ANNE McGOWAN , Trinity scholar and former Archdeacon of Derry.   Clotworthy was born in Glasslough,Co.Monaghan.  I had hoped he or his family would be recorded in the Leslie estate but alas not. The Leslie family  was associated with Winston Churchill , and where Churchill stayed in his youth . Clotworthy is striking by his name , which is of a planter family from Yorkshire , I believe , a name associated with the 6 counties today and he has been rather badly bruised by the unkind remarks of Edward Torrens regarding his character made many years later. Could this Edward Torrens be a descendant of George Torrens recorded as the co-church warden with EDMUND SODEN in 1777? This EDMUND SODEN is also mentioned in Cotton's Church of Ireland Fasti.  I have often wondered if this partnership led to bad blood between the two men at some stage resulting in this dislike.  The direct descendant of Clotworthy Soden is Terry Soden , now resident in Berkshire , England. His father ,George Wensley Clotworthy Soden , was the British officer responsible for the winding - up of the Ashanti connection between Britain and France in 1903.


The record of 1846 listing Martin Soden as emigrating to America is the first Irish Soden  I believe to go there followed in the 1850s by Patrick Soden of Lavey and Katharine Reilly nee Soden of Knocknanoark,Cavan . Although the record of Martin Soden is in Begley's Shipping lists the official American records show  no such Martin Soden in their records. The American records will show that English and German Sodens and von Sodens travelled far earlier to America, the earliest  were Joseph Soden , founder of Guilford , Connecticut ; Thomas Soden of Cambridge,Massachussetts ; a Newgate prisoner John Soden,in 1720 from England; and the families , of course , William and Elijah Soden of Pennsylvania.


These two works are   the first really extensive surveys of the name in Ireland for the nineteenth centuries.They  show how the name has drifted from Sligo through Leitrim , Longford , mainly to Cavan and thereafter to Dublin.

The families would be of both religions and were not very extensive property owners , mainly business people , professionals and   farmers. There is even here the  first  record of the townland 'Pottlesoden'. Pottle is not only the name of a townland but is also a measure of land like pole,or betagh,....  It seems to me that some Sodens became Catholic and moved to neighbouring townlands like Lattaghlohan , Pottle , Beaghey and may well have been given this townland Pottlesoden south of Cavan town and north of Pottle where PETER & MARY SODEN and GERARD , their son , live and EUGENE SODEN and his family  in Knockanoark now live. Descendants of all branches now live in Dublin . PETER SODEN , your greatgrandfather , came from Beaghey and eventually moved to Cavan where he owned the drapery shop now the site of Tesco , Main Street ,Cavan Town.


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