The Sole Society, a Family History Society researching Sole, Saul, Sewell, Solley and similar names

SOLLEY Co-ordinator's Report April 2010


By Bob Solly



I have not written a report for some time, for which I apologise.


We have a number of new members join us and in some cases they have sent information about their own families. This information has been added to our main records where appropriate.


Members may have found that, to an extent, the access to the Sole Society forum has led to interaction between members and the role of co-ordinator then becomes one of adding any information which is not known by them.


Some of the most interesting exchanges have related to Michael Becker Solly and were instigated by an article in the April 2009 journal written by Ian Robinson. Our other correspondents Lucy Ann Curling and Peter Wilkinson have provided very useful information.


Ianís latest work is explained below:


I was still happy that I had found Michael Becker Solley's family in Essex but without Frank being there. I hoped that he, being about 22, had moved on elsewhere or had in fact gone on to Canada. My next census check has blown a lot of things completely out of the water again


Bearing in mind that Frank has declared his father to be Michael Becker Solley I now stumble upon another family of Solley's - Stephen aged 63, Elizabeth aged 53 and 7 children at 73, Hurstbourne Road, St George's, Forest Hill, Lewisham. In there sits a son Frank aged 22 !!


Confusingly though there is also an older sister Ethel aged 27 and a younger brother George aged 10. This of course leads me on to my mum's recollections of an Ethel Solley at Four Marks, Hants and what mum believed was her son 'George'. Could George simply have been Ethel's younger brother?


What complicates matters intensely is that Michael Becker Solley appears to have died at Four Marks in 1923.


I have had a pretty intense week of research which has brought success and surprises along the way. When I started out I had the name 'Frank Solley' and a couple of photos to begin my search. I did send you an earlier mail with the first part of the story.


Since then I have been in contact with a very helpful lady in Texas and discovered a huge amount of info about the man I am looking for. The starting point was a U S passport application in the name of Frank Solley. He had become a naturalized U S citizen and a photo displayed was a dead ringer for the Frank I sought. His application said that he was born in 1882 at Shotover, Oxon. A GRO search by me on that info proved negative and I started off down the road of looking at a Frank Solley born 1879 of Eastry. The reason for that was that Frank had declared his father to be Michael Becker Solley and I found that he had been registered in Eastry in 1857.


Subsequently I have found out a considerable amount of info about Michael Becker Solley and his offspring - many of whom emigrated to the U S. I found MBS and his family in the 1901 UK census, but no Frank. I was also looking for a sister, Ethel and she was not shown at the home address in 1901. I am fairly confident that she turns up in London working as a domestic servant in the 1901 census but I haven't pursued those enquiries yet. I do have a large number of BMD's and GRO's to bottom out in time. I could not find Michael Becker Solley and his family in the 1891 census until today when I find that he is there but as Michael Rucker Solley ! Transcription error !!


Everything else ties in with Michael Becker Solley, his occupation and full family.


There listed under the children I find Delbert Frank Solley. So Frank must have dropped his Delbert once he was able to do so. Following on from this I was initially unable to find my Delbert in BMD's until I found him listed as De Bert Frank Solley born in 1882 and registered at Headington, Oxon !


So now things are starting to piece together and I can pursue a lot of lines of enquiry about 'Frank' who had possibly emigrated already by the time of the 1901 census. He went to America via Canada, found work as a domestic valet and travelled extensively throughout the world as part of his work, visiting Europe, South America and China amongst others.


Once I have had time to piece together all of my new information I will see if I can create a bit of a time line for Frank and his family. He married in America and undoubtedly has surviving family although it looks like his three direct descendants have died. I have a couple of photos of Frank which may make their way to The Gallery in time.


I am fairly confident now that Frank (Delbert Frank) Solley was the son of Michael Becker Solley and am more than happy to share my recent findings with anyone researching the same branch of the Solley family.


Just a little more info on the above mentioned line of the SOLLEY family.


Michael Becker Solley of Wingham, Kent married Sarah Ann Mitchell in September 1880. She was from Walmer, Kent.
The eight surviving children I have identified as:


De Bert "Frank" Solley, born 1882; Ethel Margaret Solley, born about 1885, Emily Rose Solley, born about 1888; Stanley Michael Solley, born about 1900, Archibald James Solley, born about 1901; Dorothy M Solley, born about 1903, Alexander R Solley, born about 1905; Douglas A Solley, born about 1907


I have birthplaces for the above named and they vary from Essex to Oxfordshire and Somerset.


Sarah Ann Solley died in Hampshire in 1916 aged 58 Michael Becker Solley died in Hampshire in 1923 aged 66 They both 'under-stated' their ages on the 1911 census !


De Bert "Frank" Solley went off to the USA and worked as a domestic valet for many years. I don't yet have details of his death. He appears to have been followed to America by Emily, Stanley, Dorothy, Alexander and Douglas !!


Michael's daughter Ethel is thought to have continued living at Four Marks, Hampshire up until her death and she had a son - George Soles Solley who lived from 12th June 1921 until November 1989.


Dr Peter Wilkinson was also contributing to the Becker investigations


I have been attempting to track down my English ancestors who bear the name Becker. They were famers in Ash, Kent. My great, great grandfather was Michael Becker who partnered with Hannah Solley (1788 - 1874) to produce 12 children, my great grandfather, William Edward Becker being one of them. The family are recorded in the 1841 and 1851 UK Census as living at House 55, Upper Goldstone, and having a farm of 168 acres.


The striking feature of the partnership is that Michael and Hannah never married, much to the chagrin of the Anglican Curate at the Parish Church of Ash-next-Sandwich, who continually notated in his records of the various baptisms of their children that their mother was a "single woman", or in the case of their son, Charles, that he was the "son of Michael Becker, farmer of Ash & Hannah Solley of Ash - Unhappy violators of the 7th Commandment. Signed: Charles C. Forster, Curate."


I had not been aware of Hannah Solley's notoriety until last month, when I was advised of a recently published historical work titled Family Ties: English Families 1540-1920 by US academic Dr Mary Abbott, in which Michael and Hannah are singled out as exemplars of the 'non-conventional' English family.


Unfortunately I had never been able to get beyond Hannah to her forebears as I had not been able to locate either a birth or death record. I had presumed that she, and Michael Becker, had died in England.


In recent weeks, however, I have been in contact with other Solley descendents in the US and the UK and there were mentions of one or more of Hannah's children having migrated to New Zealand, and even to Australia. My own family memory said nothing of this. The grandson of Michael Becker, who had achieved a prominent position in Brisbane, Australia, had undertaken some concerted research into his family history during WWII when he felt compelled to prove that he was of English, not German, descent. His written records, of which I have copies, made no mention of his father's siblings being in Australia or NZ, although his father, a British merchant navy captain, was known to have visited NZ on more than one occasion, and to have learnt the Maori language.


Last week on a visit to Melbourne General Cemetery in search of the grave of William Edward Becker's Irish-born wife, Eliza De Courcy, I called at the Sexton's Office and asked for a printout of all the Beckers buried in the cemetery with their grave locations. I found Eliza's grave, said a prayer of gratitude, and returned home. At home I had a closer look at the Burial List, and found there a Hannah Becker and a Charles Becker whose ages roughly coincided with those in the 1841 and 1851 Census data. Could this Hannah Becker be Hannah Solley?


The next day I obtained an online copy of Hannah Becker's death record, and there, to my great surprise, was conclusive proof that Hannah Becker was Hannah Solley. The informant was William Edward Becker, my great grandfather, she was born in Kent, England, her father was Stephen Solley (mother unknown), she was residing at Emerald Hill (where William Edward was living), she had been living in the Colony of Victoria for 17 years, and prior to that had been living in New Zealand for 5 years. Moreover, twice on the record it was stated that she was an "unmarried" woman, rather like a badge of honour!


Since then I have also found that three other of her children - Hannah Jnr, Charles and Michael -migrated to Australia, and that for some time all spent a period in New Zealand near Christchurch on the South Island. I am pursuing this avenue with some vigour. However, having found the website, I would like to see if I can find out a little more about Hannah.


I wonder if your database would be able to locate the birth record for Hannah Solley (1788?) and/or to indentify her mother, the spouse of Stephen Solley? I am assuming that she was born in Kent. I would very much appreciate your response.


Bob Wilkins posted an interest in the SOLLEY and similar names forum of The Sole Society Forum Home Page under the title of George Augustus Solly (1872-1964).


Mark Solley gave us information:


There is research being done with the Solley name right now--specifically the Philadelphia Solley family line. I'm being tested in a Y-DNA project to confirm things. The researcher has gotten as far back as 1828 for now. Here is the link: :


But, I'd still like to know if you have any information with the name itself--if it originated in Kent, Ash or Ireland. I remember seeing a mayor of Sandwich, England somewhere on the internet. There is also a Solley Hotel on the internet in the area of England you speak of, I think.


Colin C Solley was also interested in the SOLLEY and similar names forum of The Sole Society Forum Home Page under the title of George Augustus Solly (1872-1964).


Jessie Ann Matilda Allen, My Great-Grandmother married to Charles Solly 1849 passed away in 1945 aged 94 and is buried in Finchley Cemetery, lived at 20 Hampden Road, Islington, London and also lived at 27 Ellenborough Road, Islington, London. My father was brought up by them and remembers them well


Dr A C Wallis (643) was looking for the SOLLY name (Margaret Ann Solly, dau of Thomas Wickes Solly & Mary Collet of Ringleton) in the Dent de Lion Hall, Kent,


Chris Arnold wrote about Lynne Burlinghamís interest in the family of Thomas Solley and Elizabeth Smith.


You have attached charts of their children. These include Mary Ann Solley born 1795 who married William Burville in 1824. I have connections with the Burville line in Kent which includes this particular William Burville.


According to a couple of Burville sources in my family, this William Burville did indeed marry a Mary Ann Solley, however, they suggest that she was born in 1798, the daughter of George Solley and Mary Syther at St Laurence (Thanet).


I have no opinion one way or the other but would definitely like to resolve this anomaly.I guess what I am wanting to ask is how certain Lynne is that her Mary Ann Solley is the one that married this William Burville. Very little has been done on the Solley line in my extended family and I am most interested in pursuing it. I am hopeful that other Burville/ Solly/Solley connections in the 18C will solve some mysteries for me.


I am particularly interested in Mary Ann Solley and William Burville, who were married at Ash in 1824. I am a direct descendant of one of William Burville's aunts, Elizabeth Burville from St Margaret's at Cliffe, however I am also in contact with distant cousins who are directly related to William.


William was born 1803 and christened at St Maragret's at Cliffe, the only surviving son of another William Burvill(e) and Susan Loud Wood, also both of St Margaret's at Cliffe. Both of these parents died when they were quite young and William was orphaned at three years of age.


However he was named as the sole beneficiary of his mother's will. While it is not clear what his inheritance involved, it appears to have been substantial.( Susan Loud Wood was part of a family of large landowners in various parishes). It is most likely that he was raised within the Wood family. When he was just twenty one years of age -- the year of his inheritance -- William marries Mary Ann Solley in Ash, stating his occupation as "gentleman".


Between 1825 and 1839, they have seven children in Ash, however only three boys survive into adulthood. Of these two migrate to Australia and the third remains in England. All subsequently produced sizable families and hence the Burville/Solley line continues.


Mary Ann Burvill(e) nee Solley died in 1839, according to one source, from consumption.


William remarried, to Ann Darwin Smith in 1841. In the 1841 census, he and Ann are living in Ash Street, in the parish of Ash next Wingham, with his three sons, William, Wood and Walter. (Could she have been related to his mother in law?)


I am also curious as to where this residence precisely is, or was. There is an earlier entry on the Census page for a "George and Dragon", presumably the inn. However the closest George and Dragon I can find is in Sandwich, not the village of Ash. Also the following entry in the census is for "Moat Farm" which is being occupied by a family and others, all agricultural labourers.


I am wondering whether William was the owner of this farm. One source mentions that one of the sons of William and Mary Ann Solley was born at "Mote House" in Ash in 1828.


The basic question I suppose is how did William and Mary Ann meet? What takes William from St Margaret's to Ash? Obviously there has been some prior connection before marriage. Does he inherit or buy property there? Or is there some other family connection with the area, or between the Woods or the Burvilles and the Solley family of Ash? I have always harboured the thought that William's grandfather could have originated from around Sandwich, but this is pure speculation.


Bonnie Ure was researching the Heaton family of Southwark & found referernce on your site to Richard Heaton Solly. This odd chap was the son of Mary Heaton daughter of Joseph Heaton, woolstapler of St Mary Magdalen Bermondsey, & Richard Solly,woollen draper of Sandwich. They married in 1735.They are mentioned in her father's will of 1742 & her brother, John's will, written in 1745 but not proved till1763.He leaves his nephew Richard Heaton Solly money for mourning & a clock. Richard Heaton Solly was the subject of articles in the early Sole Society journals.


David Solley was interested in Alfred Solly


The sole custodian of the family history was my grandmother, Mabel (nee Saunders) who died in 1983 and, whilst various family members remember some of what Nan told them about the family history (originally from Ash, I believe), time has had its usual diluting effect on memories, and most of those that remain centre around my great-grandmother, Annie Johnson (Anna Maria?, possibly Johanson?) and her connections with Old Swede's Church, Wilmington, Delaware.


The oldest information in which I have any confidence about my Solley ancestors comes from my grandfather's birth certificate. William Alfred Solley was born on 14 June 1898 at 6 Levys Square, Rochester, to Annie Solley formerly Johnson. My great-grandfather was Alfred Solley, who was, at the time of William Alfred's birth, Mate of a tug-boat.


Alfred drowned in Southampton in 1900, after falling overboard (there is a colourful story about the circumstances).


There are various tales doing the rounds of the family about the time that my grandfather spent in the USA at some point between his father's death and the outbreak of the Great War (Grandad served as a Pte in "A" Coy, 2nd Buffs, was gassed, and, having "recovered", was later shot by a sniper before being invalided out on 21 April 1916). Whilst I suspect that this USA connection is on the Johnson side, my Dad recalls seeing Grandad's USA Aliens card with an address of West 42nd Street Wilmington De.


I could not find any information in our records of your family but found this information in the 1901 census. As you know that Annies husband died in 1900, he was not included


The parish of Frindsbury is opposite Rochester over the Medway and apparently was divided in 1894 to Intra and Extra. Further to our recent(ish) e-mail exchanges, I thought that you might be interested to learn about the Plymouth Alfred Solley marriage of 1896, and the Alfred John Solly marriage of 1895. Neither, sadly, is that of my great-grandfather.


Alfred Solley, 31, bachelor (Marine Engineer) of the steamer "Bay Fisher" of Barrow (father Alfred Solley, Engineer) married Matilda Jane Phillipa Head, 25, Spinster, of 12 Trafalgar St, Plymouth (father, the late Thomas Head, Ganger) at the parish church, Charter, Plymouth, on 13/01/1896.
Alfred John Solly, 27, bachelor (Railway Servant) of Ramsgate (father John Solly, Drapers Porter) married Ada Elizabeth Oliver, 22, spinster, of 14 Crown Street, Gillingham (father: John Oliver, painter) at the parish church, Gillingham, on 09/11/1895. 


Edward Southwell has discovered that he is descended from Sarah Emily Solley of Ash, Kent.  Sarah was born about 1824 and married Isaac Rowe (1825-1899) in Ash in 1849.  She died in 1894 in Faversahm, Kent.


Sarah and Isaac had:

Emily Sarah Rowe m. William Price (my line); Mary Rowe; Fanny Rowe; Matilda Edith Rowe

Isaac Solly Rowe; Maud Rowe; Stephen Slaughter Rowe; Annie Marion Rowe

Mariann Rowe; Hills Rowe

We have some further details of Sarah Emily Solley. She was born 7 January 1827 father Stephen Solley and mother Mary. Stephen was a baker in Ash (1841 census) but was born in 1796 in Richborough.

Ash: Sacred to the memory of Stephen Solley of this parish son of Thomas and Elizabeth Solley of Richborough who died October 19th 1849 aged 55 and also three children of the above who died in their infancy, also Mary wife of the above died April 16th 1871 aged 75, also of Elizabeth Juliet eldest daughter of the above who died October 9th 1881 aged 62 years

Sarah had four sisters and two brothers. Stephenís father was Thomas Solley. I enclose a family history record with more details.

Many thanks for your note. I see you are in touch with Chuck Solley who provided much of the US information.


We do have the family tree in England for the ancestors of Thomas Solley who emigrated dating back to the 1550. I have added your information. There are a total (including the US) of 439 people on there so the best way to transmit it to you is by using a GEDCOM file. This can be read by any family history program. Can you let me know if you have such a program. Otherwise I can send you a family report but it will be difficult to work out all the connections


Christopher T. Smithson was looking at Thomas Solley - Immigrant to Maryland USA


I recently joined the Sole Society.  My wife is a descendant of Thomas Solley who immigranted to Maryland. She is a cousin of Jonica Kelly who recently contacted you.  I have copies of death certificates and other records as well.


My wife's line is as follows:

1. Thomas Solley m. Sarah Ann Williams

2. Mary W. Solley m. William Clarence Johnson [1850-1912]

3. Harry May Johnson m. Amanda Rebecca King

4. Charles Leon Johnson m. Marie Meta Zilinski

5. Bette Leah Johnson m. Ronald Virgil Vossler

6. Deborah Ann Vossler (1958-2005) m. Mark Christopher Mills {b. 1960)

7. Amanda Lynn Mills (b. 1986) m. Christopher Thomas Smithson (b. 1979) - ME


I am most interested in the English origins of the Solley line from Thomas Solley back.  Also about the 1952 letter naming the heirs of Sara Phelps.


Richard Jones asked about Arthur Norbury Solly


We only have the basic facts that Arthur was christened 6 Feb 1894 and died on 11 August 1917 at St Omer. He was on Rugby School Register eldest son of Ernest Solly (O.R. 1878) M.B. F.R.C.S. Strathlea, Harrogate, Yorks. Adm Sep 1908 left 1913. Michell. Scholar VI. Exhibitioner 1913, R VIII., 1912,1913. Exhibitioner of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. P.S. Bn. Royal Fusiliers. 19th Bn Manchester Regiment. Flight Commander /RFC Capt. wounded.


The other information in the article came from Peter van den Heuvel (who is credited at the bottom of the article. I am sure he would be pleased to hear from you.

This information has been copied from a very interesting web site and our thanks go to Peter van den Heuvel & Marco Hoveling for allowing us to reprint. If you are looking for information about the Great War, please visit their site.


Other new members are Stephen Miles (670) and Martha Lucas (664)


Lois Thompson Rekowski writes to say that interesting things are afoot with the Pennsylvania Solleys in US. Two branches are NOT related according to our DNA tests. Both branches date to 1800's, and in the same areas, so this is a big disappointment. We desperately would like someone from the male Kent County UK Solleys to take a DNA test to see if you match either of our results.


Paul Sainsbury (from Newcastle NSW Australia) asked about my own ancestors


It is possible that I have a family link to Frederick Walter  Solly born c1849 in Canterbury, Kent - possibly 1851 same place. (I believe his father is a Frederick)


If I am correct Frederick married Helen Edith Terry b10th April, 1854

Family of  Frederick and Helen: Helen K. b 1873; Walter b 1875; Frederick E 1877; Ada 1880 and

Alfred born c1883 in Wandsworth and died 1916 (I presume during the war).


Alfred married  Nellie Rebecca Sainsbury  born 1883 London  (my line - I think!!) My grandfather Rex Charles was his sister. The Sainsbury line is quite tough as Rex leaves England in 1911 and dies in 1935 - leaving behind a large family - who know very little of him.


I have a photograph of a Mr Soley in our family album - English Cricketer in his cricket whites and cap - who I could never fit in to our family until recently coming across Alfred and Nellie's marriage. If this is indeed a link to your family I would be delighted to exchange what information I have as well as finding out more about the Solly family.


Many thanks for confirming the link. Gets me closer to solving the puzzle of who my grandfather was - Rex Charles Sainsbury The fact that his sister married Alfred Soley at least gets me a bit more of the family picture. Rex is a bit of a mystery - and also thought of as the black sheep of the family - but his ten children knew very little of him as he died aged 42 years.


Even his wife Amy refused to speak about his family. However we have oral stories that suggest he came from Battersea with a father William and a mother Mary Tipping. There are also stories of them living in Seven oaks, Kent. Lots of riddles to keep me occupied!


I think you may have solved not only the person in the picture BUT also who my father was named after. The picture attached has "Mr Soley England Cricketer.- written on the back. It was in the possession of my grandmother  Amy Sainsbury (Rex's wife)


In your list of names you have a Frederic Charles Solly - born 1876 and in 1901 census named Soley - the spelling on the back is very specific 'Soley' and by coincidence my father was Frederick Charles Sainsbury - but his father had no one in the paternal side with Frederick Charles. So its nice to think that this may be the fellow he was named after - for whatever reason.


I replied that, in fact my grandfather was Alfredís brother. We donít know much about Alfred other than birth date but my father always said he was the black sheep of the family Ė donít know why. He remembered him paying for Dulwich as an amateur footballer, so I guess it is likely he played cricket too. I have attached a family record for all the family from Frederick and Helen Terry.

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