Lolley Family History

by Estella Gunnell Taylor

Estella Gunnell Taylor
Courtesy of Becky Lolley

We are indebted to Estella for recording her grandfather's memories and attempting to sort fact from fiction giving us many important clues to our family history.

Please see the footnotes for corrections that have arisen from subsequent research.

Much of the history of the Lolley family has been told by my Grandfather, John Wesley Lolley II as told to him by his father, George W. Lolley who was born in 1835 in Devonshire, England.1

Susan Lolley was born in England, presumably Devonshire, in 1810.2 Her husband preceded her in death and of him, our ancestor, little or nothing is known. Prior to Susan's arrival in America she was married to a pugilist by the name of William Fowler.3

With Susan's four children, John Wesley, born 1829; James Henry, born 1833; George William, born 1835 and a daughter named Frances, Susan and Fowler set out for the United States. Tragedy overtook them and Frances died en route to this country and was buried at sea due to the fact that sharks were following the wood bottom boat.4

According to tradition, George was 12 years of age when he arrived in America, thus making it the year 1847. 5 It appears their point of arrival must have been New York because the 1870 census for Johnson County, Missouri shows a small boy in the household of Susan and William Fowler, William by name was born in New York. 6 Also, the census shows a Thomas Lolley, age 33, a tailor by trade was living in Warrensburg and was shown as being born in New York.

According to tradition, John Wesley Lolley of Susan Lolley-Fowler was the eldest son and under English law was entitled to inherit the family fortune. It was said money had been left in escrow in England and according to Mrs. Crosie L. Lolley, wife of Ray Lolley, his grandson, John Wesley did return to England when he became of age but was not allowed to bring any money out of the country and was able to bring only some clothes and a small copper or brass piece made in the shape of a shamrock and was supposed to have been a portion of the Lolley Coast of Arms.

This is bewildering because I wrote to the College of Arms in London and was informed the family has no coat of arms from England. This gives rise to the thought the family may have been of Irish descent originally.7 In Ireland, according to a friend who once made a trip there, a lolley is a sweet confection or candy in that country.

It is not known what year Susan Lolley-Fowler died, but my grandfather, John Wesley remembered her and said when he was small she came to their home and said with a brogue, "goodbye lassies and laddies, this is the last time you will see me ever again." And it was true, she died soon thereafter.

Her husband, William Fowler, it was said, had a booming voice and liked to sing a song which in part was, "Jack got up in the morning and began making brooms, gay brooms." He lived much longer and it is thought married Sarah Ann McBride, Grandfather's aunt on his mother's side.


1. George W. Lolley was christened September 18, 1836 in Hemingbrough, Yorkshire, England. His Civil War Enlistment record also gives his birthplace as Yorkshire.

2. Susannah gives her birthplace as Yorkshire in the 1841 census of Cliffe, Heminbrough, Yorkshire, England. Throughout census records her birth year is recorded variously as 1803, 1805, 1810, 1812, and 1815.

3. The name of George's parents were William and Susannah Lolley. They are listed as such as their son John's marriage record. Susannah is sometimes recorded as Hannah or Susan. William did precede Susannah in death, but it was after their arrival in America. The Manifest of the Panama which arrived in New York on June 16, 1845 lists Susannah and her six children as "going to her husband."

Three years after their arrival, vital records from Ontario, Wayne County, New York show the death of farmer William Lolly on September 8, 1848. Census records show that Susannah married William Fowler sometime between 1850 and 1860. He is first listed as a farm laborer and later as a farmer.

4. Susannah made the voyage alone with six of her children - Frances (b. 1828), John (b. 1832), James (b. 1834), George (b. 1836), Harriet (b. 1841), and David (b. 1843). Two of their children died before they left England. They were George (1830-1835) and David (1839-1839). Birth years are based on their christening dates.

Because the ship's manifest is so faded, it's difficult to tell if Frances is recorded as having died at sea. The 1850 census shows Susannah living next door to a Phillip and Frances Rice (the employers of William Fowler). This Frances is the same age of Susannah's daughter having been born in 1828.

5. George would have been 9, and the year was 1845.

6. The family did arrive and settle in New York as Susannah and four of the children appear in the 1850 census of Ontario, Wayne, New York. Their youngest daughter, Mary Anne, was born there on June 8, 1846.

7. Our Lolley line appears to date back to the 1500s in Yorkshire, but we have not yet completed all research.

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