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





From George Solly

 This article was originally published in the March 2012 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society


George Solly has sent a copy of the newspaper report of the inquest into the suicide of his great Grandfather, John Solly

George writes: ‘through the British Newspaper Archive just coming on line, I was able to find this article in the Chelmsford Chronicle dated 12. 12.1879 regarding the suicide of my great grandfather John Solly. It makes interesting reading and although at the time suicide was illegal, the reporter makes no moral judgement. Indeed due to the prominence of the Solly family in south Essex at that time the tone of the article is almost deferential.

His death at 46, just over 2 years after the death of his own father Thomas, led eventually to the sale of various substantial farm holdings in Mundon, Maldon and south east Essex. My grandfather Albert was only one at the time, and my part of the family soon moved to West Ham, East London. Albert, son of a wealthy landowner ended up being a wholesale  fishmonger in Billingsgate market trading as Alfred Howe & Solly, which my uncle Don and father Kenneth later joined.’

‘We last week reported the sad death of Mr J Solly of Mayland which took place on Dec. 2nd.

On Thursday morning an inquest was held by Mr W Codd at Mr Solly’s residence, when the following evidence was taken -

Fanny Solly deposed:  The deceased, John Solly was my husband and was 46 years of age; the last time I spoke to him was on the morning of Tuesday last, about ten minutes past six; he was then in the bedroom walking about in his night clothes; I asked him if he would sit upon the bed, that I might rub his back, which was weak; he asked me where the embrocation was which Mr Lattey had sent the night before, and I told him that it was behind the snuff upon the chest of drawers when he took it up, he took out the cork and put it to his nose; he then put it down again and almost immediately after took it up and again put it to his nose and walked with it to the bed upon which I was sitting, still holding the bottle, which I asked him to give to me, but he did not speak; I then sprang from the bed and tried to take it from him; I shrieked out, and he gave it to me at last; I then poured some water into the bath and said to him, Johnny dear, take off your shirt that I may bathe your back before rubbing’ and before I did so I placed the bath upon the be; while I was pouring the water into the bath he pushed me and then clasped the bottle; I said to him, ‘Johnny, we don’t want that now, dear; leave it and take off your shirt’; before I could turn myself round I saw him with the bottle in his mouth; I
screamed out and tried to get to him to take it, and before I
could do so he fell upon the floor; the phial now produced is the same he put to his mouth; I immediately sent for Mr Lattery, surgeon, by whom he was shortly attended; he was very strange the evening before and was apprehensive there was something wrong in his books as executer of his late brother, Thomas Solly; for the last six months he had been in a very strange way; I believe from over anxiety in the management of the affairs of his late two brothers – Thomas and Richard – and at times from his manner and words I believe he was not completely conscious of what he was about, and consequently he was always well watched.

Mr Arthur Lattery, surgeon, was the next witness. He said; On the morning of Tuesday last, about a quarter before seven o’clock, I was sent for to attend the deceased, having been informed that he had taken poison; I arrived at the house about seven o’clock and found him lying upon the bed in a state of coma and convulsions; I was shown the phial from which the poison had been taken, which was embrocation composed of a liniment of belladonna; I immediately administered mustard and water and the usual antidote, but being unable to produce copious vomiting I was commencing to use the stomach pump when he expired, and at about 15 or 20 minutes after my arrival; his death was clearly due to the effects of the belladonna; I have been attending him on and off for the last four months and a half for a nervous affliction, principally showing itself in convulsive movements of the limbs, indicating disorder of the spine with depression.

On Tuesday afternoon last, the remains of the deceased were conveyed to their last resting place in the parish churchyard of Mundon.  The service was most impressively performed bye the Rev W Stuart assisted by the Rev W Carus Wilson, vicar of Mayland, in the presence of a large number of spectators.  The funeral cortege was accompanied from Mayland by a numerous party of the friends and neighbours of the deceased, and at the conclusion of the ceremony wreaths of flowers were placed on the coffin.

Chelmsford Chronicle dated 12. 12.1879