Origins of the Solbys

The second article drawn from the talk at HOFS 10 March 2018 by Janet Haworth

Picture 1: Elizabeth Wood to Janet Haworth with Solby names
Picture 2: The wedding witness
Picture-3 Connecting to the present day
Picture-4.From George to William Solby
Picture 5 The Great-Fire in the City of London
Picture 6 The Solby shop in Bucklersbury
Picture 7 Great Hormead
Picture of Solbys House in John Burrows Recreational Grounds

The first article was mostly about William Solby, who built Solby House in the 18th century.  Now we look at his ancestors, living in extraordinary times!
The 17th and 18th centuries was a time when enterprising families could seize the opportunities from the rapid growth in maritime trade.
Janet told us: “In my family tree was a lady called Charlotte Solby Wilcox born about 1779.  {Picture 1.}
She ended her days in the early 1850s in an almshouse in Stepney for merchant’s widows falling on hard times.
Her elder brother Richard is my cousin Margaret’s ancestor.   Charlotte’s mother Mary also had Solby as her middle name – she was Mary Solby Hobbins and  her mother, Elizabeth Wood, is my 5 times great-grandmother.
This made me curious. Why did both these women have this strange middle name of Solby?

Picture 2
The Wedding Record.  Delving further, I discovered that William Solby was a signed witness at my ancestor Elizabeth Wood’s wedding, in 1756, at a place called Great Hormead in Hertfordshire.

Picture 3
From researching William Solby’s will and various other Solby records, my Australian cousin Margaret and I believe that we have now traced our link to William Solby through his Aunt, Elizabeth Solby.

Picture 4
My cousin mentioned that William Solby’s great-grandfather, George Solby was an apothecary to Charles II.    Dispensing herbs and medicine, an apothecary also controlled the trade in tobacco, as a medicine.   George Solby owned his shop and residence in Bucklersbury (still a street in the City of London).

In 1660, he submitted a bill for special services to Charles 1 and Charles II for transferring codes and cyphers during the interregnum.  Charles II’s reputation is not one of great generosity with money, so George Solby’s services must have been of great value – because a warrant was issued for £800 to be paid to him and £150 to his wife.
George Solby lived through The Great Plague of London, lasting from 1665 to 1666, estimated to have killed over a quarter of the population of London.

Picture 5
Great Fire of London.

Picture 6
As you  see from the map, Bucklersbury, where George had his first shop, was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666.   Thomas Solby, George Solby’s second born son, was baptised in the City of London in 1639.  His elder brother Nicholas, a surgeon, emigrated to Maryland to become a tobacco farmer, where he died.
A document at the National Archives shows Thomas as The Ship’s Doctor on a ship called Thomas and Susannah in 1690. This ship carried 195 hogsheads (around 45 tons) of tobacco from Maryland (and failed to pay tax on it!)

George Solby noted in a will that his wife was frail, so he left lands and assets to his eldest daughter Elizabeth. She died shortly afterwards so the next daughter Anne was appointed executor.  The will was in court several times, Anne claiming Thomas ought not to benefit.   Thomas returned from a sea voyage to contest the will and the judge agreed it was a forgery. Thomas successfully argued that George had therefore died without a  valid will and Thomas as the eldest surviving son was legally entitled to half of his father’s fortune.  Thomas’  daughter Elizabeth was baptised in Shadwell in 1681 and that is also where Thomas Solby’s son, Samuel, lived and worked.
Married in St Paul’s Shadwell, the Sea Captains Church, in 1699,   Samuel Solby became a baker and some of his children’s baptisms are recorded in the Parish record at St Paul’s Shadwell, showing an address of one Wappin wall.  This is still a street in the East end of Wapping and,  in the 18th Century, was a very profitable location for a baker to service ships leaving on long voyages.

Picture 7
Great Hormead. The Solby family had strong bonds with the small agricultural village of Great Hormead in East Hertfordshire, about  10 miles from the Essex border. They had a large property portfolio there, on a well travelled route for stagecoaches into London. Samuel Solby the Baker was buried in Great Hormead in 1747. One of his descendants, James Wilcox, (Janet’s three times great-uncle) was still living here in 1861 aged 83.  Hormead Cottage, now a Grade 2 listed building, was James Wilcox’s home and the photo really gives the feel of the  place.”

Picture of Solbys.   That concludes the second of two extracts from Janet Haworth’s talk about “Who built Solbys?” here describing the ancestors of the person who built Solbys.

We are now back with William Solby, described in more detail in the first article.

If we have inadvertently used an image with copyright restrictions, rights holders are invited to contact the Archive for a full acknowledgement and attribution.

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  • I own the property shown in Great Hormead which James lived in. Unfortunately in 2016 the Grade 2 listed property was burned to the ground in an accident during previous ownership.

    I am rebuilding but, whilst keeping the flavour of the property, current building regulations have required radically changing the appearance.

    By richard annis (01/01/2021)

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