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

SOLLEY Co-ordinator's Report December 1992

By Elizabeth Hughes

We welcome several new members with Solly, Solley or Soley ancestors and 1 was very pleased to meet two of them at our one-day conference at Olney.

Tim Roberts has kindly given us copies of the St Catherine's House indexes to Births, Marriages and Deaths 1837-1989 and also the Solley data from the will indexes at Somerset House. We are extremely grateful to Tim for all this information. if any member would like the reference numbers from these indexes, I shall be pleased to look them up on receipt of the appropriate information with a stamped addressed envelope (if living in the U.K). Geoff Sewell is in the process of getting these references into the Society's database

I have also been making charts from Ridlon's book mentioned in my last report. Two chapters entitled The Sole-Solly families in Kent and Sole-Solly families in Worcestershire contain fragmentary notes on the Solleys and Soleys. Another chapter Pedigree - Solly in Kent gives the descendants of the Solleys of Ash in some detail. This is followed by a chapter on the Kent family of Solly written by Prof Richard Harrison Solly "a gentleman who has for many years been assembling information relating to this branch of the family". There is even a photograph of him.

As briefly mentioned in my last report, Prof Solly tells us that John Solly who was born in 1660 and died in 1747 wrote an interesting account of the Solly family in 1734. The pedigree made by George Christopher Solly contributed by Hamish Hamilton went back no further than Richard Solly, Mayor of Sandwich (1674-1731). However, Hamish said that according to Caroline Baynes, another descendant contacted by George, Richard was a younger son of Richard Solly of Moat Farm, Ash, though, pending further evidence he cautiously only dotted in the relationship on his pedigree. We now have that evidence. Prof. Solly's summary of John Solly's 1734 family history shows that Caroline Baynes was right.

Prof Solly described John Solly's manuscript as "in the possession of George Edward Solly of Winborne." Clearly, it is most important to try and track it down. George Edward was born in 1855. Three children are given in Ridlon's pedigree. The youngest, Noel Richard. born in 1905, could even still be alive, though the odds are rather against it. But there is a good chance that it is still in the possession of the Dorset branch, for Prof Solly himself lived in Bournemouth.

Speaking of the Dorset Sollys, our Treasurer, David Parsons, has discovered in the Dorset Record Office an interesting letter written in 1830 addressed to Samuel Solly. He is probably the Samuel Solly who was a brother of George Edward's grandfather. A friend of Don Steel's did his national service with a Capt G.R.J. Solly from Dorset. Such clues may eventually lead to the "lost" Solly history, and some investigations in Dorset are high on our list of priorities.

It would seem that over the years, several people have researched the Solleys in ignorance of the previous genealogical work which has been going on spasmodically for 250 years, some of it published. This is because publication was in a family history mainly concerned with Sole and Soule, and an American one at that, which shows the value of collaboration between people interested in the different surnames. Now we have a Society bringing it all together. The discovery of Ridlon's book, drawing upon much earlier work, not only links the Sandwich branch firmly onto the main Ash line, but also takes the Ash family back three more generations to a Peter Soly who according to Ridlon made a will in 1494 leaving lands at Wingham to his son Simon and his four sons. He was a very aged man at his death, so if Ridlon checks out satisfactorily - and there is no reason to suppose it won't for we are told no far fetched stories of illustrious ancestors - we now have a pedigree back almost to the 14th Century. This is only about a century after surnames became at all widespread.

Lastly there is an odd reference to follow up. In Ridlon, page 104, there is what purports to be a copy of the will of Walter Solley, 1548 "in the Court of Canterbury". No place is mentioned but he makes his "cosyn Thomas Solley of Worcestershire" his executor. Ridlon says "This will shows the connection between the Solleys of Worcestershire and the Solleys of Kent". Don Steel has made several trips to the Worcestershire Record Office researching the Solleys and this information has now been charted. Nothing he found has supported Ridlon's claim of a link between the two families and it may well he that the American Ridlon, not realising the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) proved wills from all over England, erroneously supposed Walter's was a will from the Canterbury area, the heartland of the Kentish Solleys. A check of the original will is clearly imperative.

Return to The Sole Society Home Page