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

SOLLEY Co-ordinator's Report - April 1995

by Elizabeth Hughes

In my last report I described the demo­graphic work on the SOLLEY family of Ash, Kent done by George Solly of Tilehurst, Berkshire. Ash seems to have been extraordinarily well served. The historian Planche in A Corner of Kent had much on the family. Then came Ridlon. In more recent years Tim Roberts put in a lot of work. I now discover that Ash is one of the relatively few parishes for which a local history group has done a family reconstitution survey. Despite the work of all the researchers, in my work on making pedigrees from the IGI, I still found the Ash SOLLEYs took a bit of sorting out, some of Ridlon's conclusions in particular being rather dubious. My contact with the local history society, Elizabeth Hudson, reckons that they have managed to sort them out and has invited me down to Ash to spend a few hours going through the Family Reconstitution forms with her.

Don Steel organised in Bath, a joint conference of the Local Population Studies Society and the Guild of One‑Name Studies with the theme Learning from Each Other and this is a good example of the sort of thing he had in mind. Like Don and also, of course, George Solly, I often think family historians on the one hand and local historians and demographers on the other, do not get together often enough, and it is good that the work of our society is beginning to cross boundaries. However, demographers, concerned with families en masse, cannot spare the time on any particular family that George and I have put in, so we shall have to carefully evaluate the work of the Ash group on its merits. We may not be able to produce an authoritative pedigree but between the three of us ‑ that is, George, the Local History group, and me ‑ we should at least be able to pinpoint all the ambiguities and points of disagreement. If we get it wrong, nothing very terrible is going to happen to us, which is more than can be said for some of the SOLLEYs who have surfaced in our family history.

Janet Hurst has sent us details of SOLLEYs from the General Return of Convicts in New South Wales, 1837, published by the Society of Australian Genealogists in 1987. There are four SOLLEYs:

John Solley aged 37 came over in the Coromandel in 1820. He lived at Rich­mond, New South Wales, and was on ticket of leave. James Solly aged 24 came over on the Henry Tanner in 1833 and resided at Bathurst. John Solly aged 29 came over in 1836 in the Surrey and resided at Grose Farm and another John Solly aged 25 came over in 1837 on the Asia and resided at Maitland.

Don has a copy of the published 1828 Census for New South Wales. There is just the one SOLLEY entry, for the John who came over on the Coromandel. He was 32 in 1828 and was sentenced to Life. He was a jobber assigned to William Cox at Clarendon, Windsor. It is interesting to see that although he had a life sentence, he had a ticket of leave by 1837. Obviously he behaved well.

No SOLLEYs appear in the published volumes of biographies of those in the First Convict Fleet (1787) or the Second Con­vict Fleet (1790) though the convicts in the latter included Elizabeth Sulley of London, sentenced to 14 years for receiving a stolen watch, and William Sulley of Nottingham sentenced to seven years for the attempted theft of five dozen tallow candles. There are detailed biographies of both. These are most interesting. But as SULLEY is a surname with a distinct origin from SOLLEY, it seems more appropriate to put them in a separate report.

Long before Australia had been discovered, at least one unwanted SOLLY was shipped from our shores. Peter Wilson Coldhain's Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage 1614‑1775 lists a Richard Solly alias Phil­lips convicted at the Shropshire Lent As­sizes of 1724 for stealing sheep at Llanvair Waterdine. This is not somewhere I would have expected a SOLLY to show up. I wonder how he got there: or was he just a Mr. Phillips (a name much more charac­teristic of the area) who took the name SOLLY for his criminal activities? But if so, why SOLLY? He could, perhaps have been connected with the Worcester SOL­LEYs in some way.

A letter has been passed on to me from Mrs. G.M. Hordle of Taunton whose great­ grandfather, William Solly of Patrixbourne,   Kent born 1851 was the son of William Solly, a publican.

A batch of snippets has come from LA. Hilton who is indexing Kent newspapers. He has sent Fred a number of SOLLEY entries, viz: 

A copy of a gravestone of JANE SOLLY who died in 1781 found in Cotton's History of St  Lawrence‑In‑Thanet. References to four newspaper accounts: the trial of Frederick Solly for burglary at Ickham, Kent in 1870 (he received six months hard labour); the trial of George Solly of Ramsgate, fishing boat skipper, for not complying with a naval order in 1915; the trial of Alexander Solly of Ramsgate for theft in 1915, (he received six strokes of the birch); and the report of a letter from the Front by Private Solly of the Royal Engi­neers who came from Thanet describing Christmas 1914 in the Trenches. We have sent off for photocopies.

Mr. Hilton also offered us for sale four newspapers, two of which include SOLLYs viz.:

The Isle of Thanet Gazette for 13 No­vember 1915 reporting the wedding of Petty Officer George William Solly to Miss Ward, at Westgate, Kent. The Kentish Express for 21 January 1882 reporting on the installation of Mr. LF. SOLLY as Worshipful Master of Wellington Lodge of Freemasons at Deal, Kent.

A rather more unusual bit of source mate­rial recently was sent to us by a friend of Don's who had been on holiday in the Peak District. He and his wife visited Cressbrook, a village in the parish of Tideswell, Derbyshire, near Monsal Dale. Going up a hill near Cressbrook School they found a stone bench with a stone inscription over it which read:

In memory of


For 8 years in charge of

The Cressbrook Mill.

Died 5th January 1898 aged 33.

The Memory of the Just is Blessed.

Restored 1898

The Comprehensive Gazetteer of Eng­land and Wales, a late Victorian gazetteer says, "The inhabitants are employed in the extensive cotton mills ... ... so clearly Charles managed one of these. We have not fitted him in yet.

Such bits and pieces which trickle in can be just as valuable as the systematic research in records, I and others are doing. This is where a One‑Name Society proves its worth, and whether your interest is in SOLE, SAUL, SEWELL or SOLLEY, if you come across anything relating to any of these surnames ‑ someone of one of the names in the paper for some newsworthy reason, or one of the names turning up in an unexpected place ‑ do send it to the ap­propriate co‑ordinator. Also make sure all your friends, particularly the family history‑minded ones, know of your interest. Don't assume we will have spotted some­thing already. We rarely have even when it concerns someone on the fringe of a major news story. So please rush for the scissors when you spot something. Please re­member, though, to give us the title and date of the source.

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