SOLLY, Henry, 1813-1903, clergyman, Founder of Working Mens Club and Institute Union

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers and lectures by Reverend Henry Solly in his investigation into the social and religious condition of the working class.

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Solly, 1813-1903, was born in London, the son of a businessman. His family were radical Protestant Dissenters, and Solly was educated at schools run by Unitarian ministers. He was one of the first students to attend University College, London (1829-1831), where he studied classics and mathematics. In 1840 Solly became minister at the Unitarian Chapel at Yeovil, Somerset. He became involved with the Chartist movement and several of the working class gropus in the town. After he served as a representative at the Birmingham chartist conference of 1842, Solly was forced out of his ministry. He was then minister at Tavistock 1842-1844, Shepton Mallet 1844-1847, Cheltenham 1847-1851, Carter Lane, London 1852-1857. In 1862 Solly founded the Working Men's Club and Institute Union in London. The aim of the organisation was to encourage the formation of clubs by working men "where they can meet for conversation, business, and mental improvement, with the means of recreation and refreshment, free from intoxicating drinks". He became its first paid secretary in 1863. When Solly opposed the clubs' practice of selling alcohol he was forced to resign. He returned in the 1870s but left again following disputes about his salary. By the time of solly's death in 1903 there were 992 clubs with 380,000 members in Britain. In 1869 Solly was instrumental in founding the Charity Organisation Society. Its aim was to better administering charity relief while emphasising the need for self help, and accompanying it with personal care. In 1884 Solly also established the Society for the Promotion of Industrial Villages. The society's purpose was to provide good-quality housing for working people. In 1868 Solly's daughter Emily Rebeecca married the Unitarian minister and temperance camaigner Philip Wicksteed (1844-1927). Solly died at Wicksteed's home in 1903. His publications include: 'Facts and fallacies connected with working men's clubs and institutes' (1865); 'Destitute poor and criminal classes: a few thoughts on how to deal with the unemployed poor of London, and with its roughs and criminal classes?' (1868); 'Re-housing of the industrial classes; or, village communities v town rookeries' (1884); 'The condition of the English working class: the papers of the Reverend Henry Solly' (1990).

Arrangement

By subject in 19 volumes.

Conditions Governing Access

OPEN

Other Finding Aids

Printed handlist available

Archivist's Note

Output from CAIRS using template 14 and checked by hand on May 8, 2002

Conditions Governing Use

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