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

SOLLEY Co-ordinator's Report August 2012

By Bob Solly





Correspondence from Peter Wilkinson and Lucy Ann Curling, relating to Hannah Solly (Becker) – the subject of previous articles and rather infamous for having children out of wedlock!

Re: “The IGI also shows a marriage between a Stephen Solly and Hannah Sayer in St John's Margate on 20th May 1771 which may be relevant. Before we get too excited my notes also suggest that these are records submitted by a member of the LDS church, and so are only as good as that members research was, with all the caveats that implies.”


As Co-ordinator I replied: thank you for all the commentary which helps in identifying Hannah’s ancestor. Just a note that the marriage of Stephen Solly and Hannah Sayer is documented by Michael Gandy in his index of East Kent marriages – so it comes from the Parish register.


From the same source comes Stephen Solly and Ann Sayer married 1st September 1770 –  she was recorded as underage when married by licence in Staple Kent. Stephen died 18 February 1787 though.

Also all our original records spell Hannah’s surname as SOLLEY. Although in certain families (where they moved around a lot) the spelling varies between Solley and Solly we have found few records of this happening after 1700. We also have that record of Stephen Solly (still wrong spelling) marrying Anne Cullen at St Martins - Herne Bay 10th Nov 1762.


Finally we have one well documented family: Stephen Solley married Ann Marks 3rd October 1781 in Wingham Kent. We have a record of four children: Elizabeth 1781, Ann 1782, Stephen 1793, and Mercy 1796.

Clearly there is a gap between 1782 and 1793.


As you note: 1787  August 31st SOLLY Hannah d. Stephen and Ann bap so I would suggest that the parents were definitely a Stephen & Ann - so I would keep on searching.


Lucy Ann also wrote: Thanks, Chris, for all that information. Re Hannah's origin, my understanding is that it had usually been 'presumed' that she was a 'native of Ash' or 'a local girl' simply because Ash was regarded
as 'the Solly cradle' and because she lived there.  The Rev. Robert Gleig, in his The Chronicles of Waltham  Vol. I, The Village Oracle, Ch. 3, A Man of Authority, writing of Mr Amos, the Overseer (a pseudonym for Michael Becker III) says: 'He [Mr Amos] had taken into keeping a woman of low origin, by whom he had a family'.  Gleig says nothing of her place of origin, her parentage or her age, and  'low orgin' may simply signify she was a 'servant girl/woman', or that her parents were poor, or that her father had a lowly occupation such as a farm labourer (Hannah death record says he was a 'farmer').  Or it may mean that relative to the rank, wealth and station of Mr Amos [Becker] she was 'low', whereas he was 'high'. Gleig himself, regardless of all his good traits, was also a bit of a snob. Further, despite all the ongoing efforts of David, Lucy Ann, Robert and Anne, no evidence has ever been found that she was a 'native of Ash', and that lack of evidence has been strongly suggesting for some time that she must have come from elsewhere. All Hannah's death record, for which her son William Edward Becker, was the informant shows is that she was born in 'Kent, England'


Death Record # 3805 for 1874 for Deaths in the District of Emerald Hill [County of Bourke, Melbourne] in the Colony of Victoria, Australia


When and Where Died:  23 July 1874, 88 Thistlewaite Street, Town of Emerald Hill, County of Bourke [South Melbourne, VIctoria, Australia]

Name and Surname, Rank or Profession: Hannah Becker - Unmarried woman

Sex and Age: Female, Eighty six years

Cause of death, duration of last illness, Medical attendant, When he last saw deceased: Debility - old age; One year; Mr Sturt, Emerald Hill; 19 July 1874

Name and Surnames of Father and Mother; if known with Rank and Profession:  Father's name is Stephen Solly, Occupation, Farmer (other particulars .?... known)

Signature, Description and Residence of Informant: W.E. Becker, Son, Emerald Hill

Burial, When and where; Name and Religion of Minister: 24 July 1874, Melbourne General Cemetery ; Edward Puckle, Church of England Minister

Where Born: Kent, England.  Five years in New Zealand and seventeen years in Victoria. 

If deceased was married: Unmarried


We also know from Rev. Robert Gleig, in his The Chronicles of Waltham that Mr Amos [Michael Becker III] was ‘the very beau ideal of a gay, jovial, thriving yeoman of Kent’ and that ‘Nobody throughout the surrounding districts rode such excellent horses, or dressed with greater taste than he; and among the women he was said to be irresistible...’. 


I think it would be safe to say that Michael moved about fairly widely in Kent on his fine horses and may have encountered Hannah - who must have been equally or even more irresistible - 'out of town' on one of these excursions. Gleig also notes that 'more than one female had legal claims on him [Mr Amos/Becker] for a pension' which suggests that some other earlier liaisons of Michael probably produced illegitimate children. But while Michael may have succeeded in disengaging himself from the other women, he was unable to do so with Hannah. From other sources (Lush, the baptismal records at Ash, and the Court records of her contest with Wood) we know that Hannah was a feisty lady and not one to roll over easily in the face of challenges or challengers. She was undoubtedly Michael's match and she alone succeeded in pinning him down. 


As Gleig writes (loc. cit.), after Mr Amos had taken into keeping Hannah: ‘He now withdrew from society altogether, and confined himself to her. From the best dressed man in the parish he became the most perfect sloven. His game-cocks were sold, his hunters were disposed of, his groom was dismissed. ...and adopting the habits of a boor, he lived entirely in his kitchen’.  Is Gleig telling us as much, or more, about Hannah as he is telling us about Michael?  She clearly had a huge influence on him and on his relationships to his erstwhile beau friends and to the society in which he was accustomed to mix. She was no ordinary woman.   This list, extracted from KENT illegitimates shows Hannah (also Anna) and indicate that she might have been born 1796:


Father; Michael

Mother: Jane


Child female 27 Dec 1818 EMILY BECKER/

Child female 14 Jan 1821 HANNAH BECKER

Child female 16 Jun 1822 to 18 Jun1844

Child male 14 Dec 1823 MICHAEL BECHA

Child female 11 Feb 1827 SARAH BECKER

Child male 28 Jun 1829 WILLIAM EDWARD B

Child male 25 Apr 1830 to 2 Mar 1832 CHARLES BICKER

Child female 8 Jul 1832 SUSAN BICKERS

Child male 21 Sep 1834 CHARLES

Child male 22 Nov 1835 HENRY BECKER

Child female 16 Jun 1839 ROSA BECKER


If you are referring to Hannah Solly (and Michael Becker) I don’t think there is any link to the Edward Solly families as the surname is without an e. We have collated a great deal of information about Soll(e)y and there are very few instances where the spelling changes – no examples after mid-1700’s.

Her father, according to Peter Wilkinson, is Stephen Solley who could be been born say between 1730 and 1770 (this would be the latest date as Hannah would be born when he was 18).

Attached is a summary of all Stephen (Solly and Solley) mainly from the IGI records. Not much help there although it may be worth checking the marriage in Margate of Stephen Solly to Hannah Sayer as this is the only mention of Hannah (apart from the infamous).

So does that mean you have a chunk of family tree descending from Edward, listing his children and grandchildren?  I’m just thinking that maybe ‘our’ Hannah Solley came from the London family originally.  Even if her parents were living in Ash it is quite likely that if her mother were from London she would have gone back to her parents’ house for her lying-in as was commonly done in those days, especially for the first-born.



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