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

SOLLEY Co-ordinator's Report August 2018

By George Solly





Sole Society member Vashti Waterhouse sent me an email:


I’m a member of the Sole Society but on the Saul not Solly branch.


Recently I was going through Melbourne Cemetery checking up on other ancestors (different name) and came across this headstone. It’s not all that old – 1932/38 but denotes a member of parliament so I thought it may be of interest to the Society.


Robert H Solly was an assembly member for Carlton, Victoria which is now a suburb of Melbourne but more than that my quick internet research did not reveal.

The headstone of Robert H Solly in Melbourne Cemetery

Erected by the Federation of Tobacco Workers

In memory of Robert H Solly  MLA


First Federation President of above Federation

Died 3rd (or 4th) June 1932

Aged 72 years

Mary Solly

His beloved wife

Died 11th August 1938



Meanwhile, finding myself with two hours to spare whilst attending training in Sheffield I visited Sheffield Library and family archives to try and discover the story behind Solly Street in the same city.


It transpires that Richard Solly (1807-1869) grandson of the Isaac Solly  (Baltic Timber Merchant – see previous articles about this branch) with his brother James (1817-1889) were engaged in steel making in a big way in Yorkshire and Staffordshire.  The Solly Brothers employed over 200 men and had works in Sheffield and Tipton, Staffs (Leabrook and Great Bridge Ironworks). Previously the family firm had traded as Solly, Hollis and Son, their was father Hollis Solly whose forebear founded Hollis Hospital in 1703.


It appears that Richard Solly suffered financial hardship and his impressive house at Field Head, Sheffield was let as a consequence. His obituary in the Sheffield Independent of 6 February 1869 noted that Richard took an active part in local and social affairs.  He was president of the Literary and Philosophical Society, member of the town council and elected alderman and was principal promoter for the establishment of the Free Library (the building in which I knitted together his story).


In 1859 Richard Solly left Sheffield hoping soon to return, travelling to Chile to prosecute the claim of his wife Mary Frances Eliza as heiress of her father who had died there.


Unfortunately, in Chile ‘the law’s delay” is an enormous magnitude, and is attended by one still worse, the corruptibility of the ministers of the law (from his obituary in the Sheffield Independent)


The inheritance case ran over 10 years and the much-harassed Richard died in Chile in 1869 aged just 62. James Solly married Caroline Fordham and lived in Toll End Hall, Tipton (see below) and had a son born there in 1854.


Their brother Nathaniel Neal Solly (1811-1895) was born in London, moved to Staffs and became an iron master himself, trading as Solly, Hollis and Sons at Dividable, Rowley Regis. In 1844 he married Martha Fordham (sister of Caroline?) and lived at Royston, Cambs. The brothers’ parents were Hollis Solly & Charlotte Harrison - Hollis was one of 14 children of the Baltic Timber Merchant, Isaac Solly and Elizabeth Neal.


(Richard Solly and I are descended from a common ancestor John Solly 1661-1748 and Martha Le Gay 1663-1716.)


Ed: I asked George about the sources he used to find this information and he replied:

Initial Google search didn’t reveal much but during the visit to Sheffield Library:

Whites and PO Directories of Sheffield – 1841, 1856, 1856, 1860 (not in 1865 or 1871 Directories)

Also microfilms of local papers and the census of 1851: James, head of household, Toll End Hall, Tipton, ironmaster employing 220 men, his brother Richard, Richard’s wife Mary Frances Eliza and their father Hollis aged 77.

Also, old Ordnance Survey Maps, Great Bridge and Toll End 1902 and 1913 and locality guides at the library.  




Return to The Sole Society Home Page