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the Appleby one-name study and DNA project

the Appleby one-name study and DNA project

Surnames covered in our DNA project:



plus any other variants


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The current banner shows Alnwick Castle, in Northumberland - a county in the far north east of England, bordering Scotland.  This region is home to a number of Appleby lines - and our DNA project has confirmed genetic connections between several of these, which also match lines in Canada, USA and Ireland.

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(Meanwhile, I suggest you switch to a PC!)

Samuel Appleby, attorney and violinist

The first contact concerning Samuel Appleby arrived from a most unusual enquiry.  A gentleman representing a Swiss Violin workshop, emailed with some intriguing information ...


"For more than 40 years I have been researching the history of the former owners of violins made by the great Cremonese Maker Joseph Guarnerius del Gesù (1698-1744). Among the early owners of at least one of his violins, was Samuel Appleby Esq. who worked as solicitor from about 1843 onwards in London at 6, Harpur Street, Red Lion Square.


Furthermore there is record of this gentleman having been one of the executors of the last will of the famous double bass-player Domenico Dragonetti (1763-1846) who died in London, April 16th 1846. One of the other executors was the famous music publisher Vincent Novello (1781-1861).


In the eminent work about the violinmakers of the Guarneri family by W.E.Hill & Sons, London (1931) are to be found several little notes about the said Samuel Appleby, as solicitor, amateur violinist and poet. Before 1867, Mr. Samuel Appleby must have also lived in Brighton, at 23, Park Crescent."


I now understand that these violins are very special indeed - which probably explains a mystery uncovered whilst researching Samuel Appleby!


Samuel and his sister Ann were both christened in Manchester in the early 1790s - their parents were Thomas Appleby, silver smith and Elizabeth Cooke.  Samuel's grandfather and gt grandfather were both Jewellers of Manchester. When Samuel married Elizabeth Jemima Webb King in London in 1831 he was an attorney at Grays Inn - they do not appear to have had any children, but a niece of Elizabeth - Sarah Mary King - appears as a niece in 1861 as housekeeper to Samuel (his wife Elizabeth had died by this time). By the 1871 census Samuel - now an annuitant aged 81, along with Sarah Mary King and her mother plus two servants were living at 'Valestrand', Alexandra Villas,  Brighton.

Samuel died in 1877 at the age of 87 - his probate record shows his effects as just £200, (resworn the following month as 'under £450') and his sole executrix was Sarah Mary King. However, by 1881, Sarah Mary King (now a 'gentlewoman') was married to Edward Dean Jones a schoolmaster and the couple were running a school in their home in Stoke Newington. By the time Sarah died in 1897 she was widowed, and described as 'of Valestrand, Brighton' and her effects were valued at over £10,000 (almost £1.5 million today!)


I sent off for Samuel's Will in the hope of discovering why he died with so little, and Sarah died with so much!!), and I now have a better understanding of the situation: It transpires that Samuel came to an arrangement with Sarah Mary King whereby he disposed of his own properties and moved in to the house she had recently purchased - Valestrand.  Sarah would care for Samuel and in return, he would provide Sarah with all the furnishings from his own house and make her his beneficiary. His will set out one important requirement:- Sarah Mary should ensure that Samuel's collection of musical instruments, artwork, manuscripts and books must be kept together as one collection and not disposed of separately in any sale or auction. (You can view a summary of the Will here).

And, because Sarah Mary King plays such a large role in this story, I also include a short chart for the KING family showing how she relates to Samuel's wife Elizabeth Jemima Webb King. Sarah Mary's father, Edward John King, a London dentist who Elizabeth's brother, also appears in census entries that contributed to the development of this tree.


Appleby, Ann (Abt 1791- )

Appleby, Samuel - Attorney (Abt 1790- )

Appleby, Samuel - Jeweller (Abt 1740-1787)

Appleby, Thomas - Jeweller (Abt 1708-1771)

Appleby, Thomas - Silver Smith (1767-1836)

Cooke, Elizabeth (Abt 1772-1792)

Harrison, Ann (Bef 1750- )

King, Edward John - Dentist (Abt 1800- )

King, Elizabeth Jemima Webb (1812- )

King, Sarah (1806- )

King, Sarah Mary (Abt 1835-1897)

King, William

Rideout, Sarah Capps (Abt 1809- )

sale report in The Globe 25 jun 1887

This report of an auction appeared in The Globe newspaper  on 25 jun 1887.  The total sale price of Samuel Appleby's vaiolins amounts to £565 (approx £46,360 in today's money)

But, the description of the articles sold in 1887, suggests that Sarah Mary King did not follow Samuel's dying request to the letter!

Click HERE to view the details of Samuel Appleby's ancestry as far as I have been able to confirm to date (it is probably the shortest tree on the entire website!)

I am endeavouring to locate online copies of historical Auction Catalogues for Puttick and Simpson and other London Auctioneers in the late 19thC, in the hope of discovering if Samuel's other collections of paintings, manuscripts and books were also sold off following his death.  So far I have had no success in this attempt ... but I recently discovered that the British Library holds copies of all London Auction Catalogues, so next time I am in the area I will see what they reveal.


In the meanwhile, I have now visited the National Archives and examined Samuel's Death Duty records.  They confirm his place and date of death and that Sarah Mary King was his sole executor. His Real Estate includes "freehold messuage and appurts 21 Park Crescent Brighton and Freehold ground rent arising from Land at Limehouse and Personal Estate" and confirm that the initial assessment of £200 was increased to £450, but provide no details of why (though there are lots of pencil notes with correspondence ref. nos!)

admissions record Grays Inn

Samuel's entry in the Gray's Inn Admissions Register on 8 July 1825, confirms details of his father, though his description as 'eldest son' suggests the possibility that there were additional children who I have not yet managed to identify!  


dragonetti front thumb
back thumb
scroll thumb

These images show front, back and scroll of Samuel Appleby's "Dragonetti-Walton" violin mentioned in the sale notice below as being made in 1732 (though it actually dates from 1742).

Update August 2020 I have recently been contacted by Christine, who provided the Probate entry (below) confirming that Samuel Appleby was Executor to the will of George Polgreen Bridgetower Esq in 1860 - Christine has located biographies for Bridgetower (1778-1860), which refer to Appleby as being a personal friend - and though she is unsure of the reason for this relationship, she commented that 'he knew enough about the instruments to get a good deal when the estate was wound up!'

Probate entry 1860 for Geo. P Bridgetower

George Polgreen Bridgetower (left) was a renowned Afro-European virtuoso violinist, who performed with Beethoven.  You can read more about this fascinating man, the subject of an opera, films and many publications, on Wikipedia, and his career is also summarised on the website of 100 Great Black Britons

George Bridgewater, by Henry Edridge, 1790 (Wikipedia Commons)

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