By Norman Smith
This article was published in the December 2017 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society
I enjoyed your pieces in the latest ‘Soul Search’. Regarding Richard Solly (three times mayor of Sandwich), he lived in Richborough House (a town house in Sandwich), which is still in good shape. On Heritage Open Days, it is usually open and well worth a visit. The Sollys were a very prominent Sandwich family up to the mid-20th century. I think a namesake of yours was the initiator of Port Richborough, which became a key communication and armament hub in WW1. My mother (then Ellen Solly) worked there cleaning shell cases back from the Western Front.
With respect to Solly’s Orchard in Canterbury (about 5 miles from where I live), many years ago, an elderly local solicitor told me that it had belonged to a Solly who was a late-nineteenth century publican in Canterbury.
Are you aware of the recently published Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland? I can’t copy the Solley/Solly pages to you for copyright reasons, but it primarily attributes the origin of the name to it being a derivative of Sully. There are 3 Sully locations in Normandy. So it seems we are of Norman origin, with a locative name.
There is a lot more information under Sully, Solly and Solley – enough for a decent article. The Dictionary costs £400! I expect either Reading’s main library or the University will have a copy. I think you would find rewarding to go and see it, if you can’t access on line.
Ed: If anyone can get to a large library which holds the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland and transcribe any of the information about the Society’s names, please let me or your Research Co-ordinator know. n