The Solly Trunk

By Peregrine Solly

This article was published in the April 2024 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society

Ed: I had heard so much about Peregrine Solly’s father’s trunk that when I realised I had an article on all the other families in this journal but not the Sollys I asked him for some general information on it and I received this:

Here is a photograph of my father’s trunk with its collection of Solly papers. As you can see, it is going to keep me busy…. as there are roughly five hundred letters and over fifty parchments for me to sort out. Most of them date from the eighteenth century and are documents and correspondence relating to William Henry Solly (1714-1770) and Joseph Solly (1751-1806) who were both attorneys in Sandwich. I also have a number of ledgers belonging to both William Henry and Joseph, such as their Day Books, so I hope to be able to relate the letters in the trunk to the people and events mentioned in these and so give them some context. 

Peregrine Sollys fathers trunk 1 1
Peregrine Solly’s father’s trunk containing family documents

Rather intriguingly there are twenty or so documents from the seventeenth century that don’t seem to relate to the Sollys but may have been kept because they relate to earlier legal matters in Sandwich (indentures and land transactions). The earliest letter I have found is from 1612 which records the transfer of some land from Sir Roger Manwood to his son Peter Manwood. There is a Roger Manwood, perhaps the father of this one, who merits an interesting entry in Wikipedia as an important figure in Sandwich and also a senior, if corrupt, official in Queen Elizabeth’s court.

The 1612 letter associated with the Manwoods
The 1612 letter associated with the Manwoods

The Day Books are also a story in themselves as they record the Sollys’ visits and the fees and costs they claimed. William Henry’s covers from 1737 to 1759; Joseph’s from 1793 to 1796 and is more of a diary listing the inns he stayed at, the dinners he gave, and even when he went swimming. Both of them lived in Sandwich but they were almost constantly on the road visiting clients in Deal, Dover and Canterbury, and going to London. Given that this was on foot, by horse, mail coach, or occasionally carriage if they were lucky, they appear to have been remarkably hard working and committed men.