The Book of Soden

 History of the  Soden Family 1164 - 1950

THOMAS SODEN (1594-1700)


Warwickshire to Grange

Thomas Soden was born in the year 1594 in the village of Bourton-on-Dunsmore,Warwickshire,England,son of  Robert Soden ,whose family can trace with certitude their origins back to Swalcliffe,Oxfordshire. Thomas and his brother ,Robert,are seen  first  in Sligo ,the part of Ireland  which served as residence for the Sodens to the present day.

Robert arrrived during the Cromwellian period of 1649, and  is first mentioned in Youghal as a member of Lt.Colonel Henry Smythicke 's company.


The first official record of Thomas Soden is as 'titulado' in Sligo in 1659. There he is in charge of the town of Grange on the Sligo/Ballyshannon road having been granted this land, formerly the land of Andrew Crean, as payment for services in the Cromwellian campaign in Ireland. These Sodens were  Protestants in belief and Parliamentarians.


He is seen again in the 1661/2 Act of Settlement  and in the Hearth Money Rolls of 1665 he and possibly his son ,Thomas, are recorded as owning three hearths.  Under the Act of Grace of 1668 they get more land in Lislahely, Sligo. Records show  that a Thomas Soden had houses along with a John Sodon also in Sligo town  as part of the Strafford Rentals in 1682.


In the Chester list his companion is named Catherine and they have a child,whose name is not given. This child could easily be the 1 year old daughter , Jane, of Thomas Soden Junior taken to safety in Chester by her grandparents with Thomas Jnr. remaining in Grange,to defend the garrison against the forces of the Catholic King James II.

Thomas the Boyo

Thomas may have been the first Soden in Sligo but he certainly left behind him lasting memories of a truculent, belligerent character. Joe McGowan credits him in his work ‘Under The Shadow of Ben Bulben’ with the story of how he acquired his lands at Lislahely by tricking the initial recipient of the land with a cock-and-bull story about its quality and usefulness.

On the other hand, Stella Durand recounts in her work,’Drumcliffe’ the local belief that Thomas Soden used the wooden statue of St. Molaise of Inish Murray island as shooting practice. After enquiries about this to the National Mauseum Director in Collins Barracks, and having inspected the statue myself , there is no evidence of such behaviour.


This Thomas Senior is remarkable as one of the main records of him is a stone plaque in the foyer of the Protestant church of Drumcliffe,Sligo stating that he died at 105 years of age in 1700. He is found again in a will abstract of 1689 ,wherein is mentioned his brother,Robert,as well as  in the List of Chester Refugees of 1689 just mentioned and most importantly in the Betham Pedigree Table of Ms. 469 in the National  Library ,Dublin. Betham is the most faithful source of corroboration ,having access to all the relevant documentation of the time,these being lost in the fire of 1922.  All corroborate his advanced age. Thomas Soden is buried in Sligo,probably in the cemetery of Moneygold,north of Grange where many other members of his family lie.

According to records his wife is Anne Pretty or Ann Ellis,they had 2 children,Joane and Margery/Margaret but it is from the Robert Soden, his brother that the whole Soden line in Ireland descends. However, in the Hearth Money Rolls of 1665, one finds mention to two Thomas Sodens,Snr. and Jnr. It may well be that Thomas Jnr. is either the son of Thomas Snr. or of the elusive Robert. According to the fFolliott pedigree prepared at the Genealogical Office with the benefit of a Betham Will Abstract, it is claimed that Robert is the main progenitor of the Soden family in Ireland.

Joe McGowan, Under the Shadow of Ben Bulben, Aeolus, 1993

Stella Durand, Drumcliffe, Drumlin Publications, 2000

Figures from the Past,Studies on Figurative Art in Christian Ireland in honour of Helen M. Roe, 

ed. Etienne Ryan, RSAI,Dublin 1987

[Photograph of Swalcliffe, Oxfordshire, England ]