Richard Solly the Elder 1673 - 1731
By Keith M Parry
This article was originally published in the April 2005 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
In the eighteenth century, Wills were usually prefaced with the words ‘In the Name of God Amen’, followed by the final instructions regarding the funeral of the deceased etc.
The Will of Richard Solly of Sandwich is an exception, as he also began with a lengthy prologue in giving thanks to God for past blessings, and affirming his confidence in his life hereafter. The original of the Will is without punctuation and has been transcribed literally and with difficulty!
The bequests in the Will confirm that Richard Solly, the Elder enjoyed a good lifestyle. In addition to his home and shop in the former Fish Market, near St. Peter’s Church, he also owned other property in Sandwich, Ash and a manor at St. Margaret’s at Cliffe. From other sources we learn the Richard Solly was a woollen draper and three times mayor of Sandwich. While he enjoyed material success, there was disappointment and loss in his family life.
From church records and memorials, we find that Richard Solly married Anna Cricket, from a well known Sandwich family in 1695. Anna gave birth to twelve children over the next twenty years, but eight of them died in their infancy. Their daughter Mary married Stephen Long in 1720. She gave birth to two children, Mary and John, but she died in 1725 at the age of twenty-seven years.
The family memorial, surmounted by the Solly coat-of-arms, is in St. Mary’s Church above the south door. The memorial gives the date of Anna’s death as being the 27th.December 1730 and that of Richard as being the 7th. May 1731. There is a discrepancy concerning the Will, dated 25th February 1730 and proved on 25th. July 1731, but makes no reference to Anna. However, among the bequests to daughter Anna is ‘her late mother’s clothes’.
Probably the date of the Will should have read 1731and not 1730. Anna died at the age of fifty-four years, followed by Richard five months later aged fifty-seven years. In his Will of five pages, he made detailed bequests to his remaining family. Richard made provision for his sons Richard the Younger and William Henry, his daughter Anna, together with grandchildren Mary and John.
He referred to them all in affectionate and loving terms:
In the Name of God Amen
this Five and Twentieth day of February Anno Dni 1730 and in the ffourth year of the Reign of King George the second over Great Britain I Richard Solly the Elder of the Town and port of Sandwich in the County of Kent Gent being infirm of body but sound and perfect Mind and Memory (Praised be to God for the same) considering the uncertainty of this Transitory Life and being desirous to settle that Estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me so make and declare this my Last Will and Testament in writing in manner and fform following (that is to say) First and principally I yield my soul unto the hands of Almighty God my Creator with ffull assurance steadfast hope in my Redeemer Christ Jesus to live with him eternally after this Mortal Life shall be ended and my body bequeathed to the earth whereof it was first Framed to be decently interred at the discretion of my Executor hereafter named.
Richard Solly, began his ‘Last Will and Testament’ by acknowledging that while his health was failing physically, he could praise God that he was still sound and perfect in mind and memory. He gave thanks for the blessings that he had received in this life, while looking forward with trust and confidence to a new life, through faith in Jesus Christ. Here we have a testimony made nearly three centuries ago, by a man who had experienced life with its ups and downs, yet remained faithful to his calling.
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