Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Stratford D. Jolly

Stratford D. Jolly (b. Scotland, 7 September 1881; d. Mombasa, Kenya, 2 March 1948)

Stratford Dowker Aird Jolly was the only child of Benjamin Stratford Robert Jolly (1856-1915) and Beatrice Jolly, née Williamson (1853-1911), who were married in 1880.  He was educated at the Glengarth Boys School in Cheltenham, and at the Westminster School in central London.  In autumn 1908 he married Maud Lyndon Bateman (c.1868-1940), and served in the Royal Air Force in France from September 1917 through January 1919.  The Soul of the Moor:  A Romance of the Occult (London:  William Rider & Son, [1911]) was his first book and only novel. His two other books include The Treasure Trail (1934), which recounts Jolly’s treasure hunting in Central and South America, and South American Adventures (1938), which is a condensation of the earlier book.  After he returned to England, Jolly married a second time in the spring of 1933, settling around Liverpool, where with his second wife Eileen Margaret Stead (1901-1984) he raised two children. He died at the European Hospital in Mombasa, Kenya, at the age of 66.

 The Soul of the Moor, issued by the early twentieth-century’s foremost British publisher of books on esoteric philosophy, mysticism, psychical research, and the occult, is unfortunately not a very good as a specimen of occult romance.  The recently wed narrator (whose name is belatedly revealed to be Harvey Langford) is devoted to his wife Lucy, who is oddly afflicted by a debilitating weakness. Langford uses occult hypnotism to put his wife in a deep sleep and to impart to her his vitality.  In this deep sleep Lucy’s more knowledgeable soul is able to explain to as well as assist her husband in his various endeavors on her behalf, for she is much higher than her husband on the spiritual ladder of knowledge that everyone must climb.  Lucy is haunted by a Moor, who according to Lucy is her “other self” who worships her.  There follows various adventures and abductions and chases, after which Lucy is perilously close to death. The Moor suddenly transforms from enemy to loyal friend, and by his superior psychic strength he is able to restore Lucy’s health and sanity, working this miracle even after his death.  The novel has some narrative drive but so much of its content is sheer silliness, when it isn’t overfilled with pompous occult explanations, that the reader is left smirking at the spectacle instead of enjoying the show as presented.

NB:  A portion of this entry originally appeared in my column “Late Reviews” in Wormwood, no. 14 (May 2010).


  1. Hi Douglas

    A facinating read about my Grandfather! Mum and I wondered where you acquired your information and whether you knew anything else about him. He died when Mum was very young and she is keen to learn more about him. Many thanks Seran

    1. Your grandfather, Stratford D. Jolly (1881-1948) went treasure hunting in Bolivia with Dr Edgar Sanders in 1928. They were looking for millions in gold, reported to have been an Inca treasure buried by Jesuit priests at Sacambaya mission in Bolivia near the border between the La Paz and Cochabamba. I believe he may be in a group photograph of this expedition:
      Sanders also wrote a book which may mention your grandfather, "The story of the Jesuit gold mines in Bolivia and of the treasure hidden by the Sacambaya River".
      Jolly gives his occupation as 'Actor' in the Census Returns of England and Wales, 1901, Jolly gives his occupation as 'Actor'.
      You may have discovered all this by now but hope it's helpful.

    2. Hi Seran, I realise this is an old post but I have recently made a website about my great grandfather who went on a treasure hunting expedition with your grandfather. My grandfather James Plumpton’s book ‘Treasure Cruise’ is on my website and has a fair bit of information about Stratford Jolly as he was the organiser. The particular page with crew profiles is here:
      You may need to copy and paste that into the browser.
      Hope that helps

  2. Hi Seran: Just found your post. I put virtually everything I could find about Jolly in the entry---much of which came from genealogical resources. The best place for more information, and perhaps more clues as to where else to look, might be his account of treasure-hunting in South America, The Treasure Trail (1934).Thanks for writing!

  3. Hi

    I believe that I have his war medals after serving in the RAF during late WW1. He is shown as a sculptor upon enlistment.


    1. Cool! I wonder if any of his sculptures survive.

    2. Hi Douglas

      Yes they do .... one was cemented into the wall at Shelly Beach Hotel Mombasa, as a family we still own three which we love - The Aviator, The Agitator both done when he was in the Royal Flying Corps and also a plaster bust of my grandmother. Another pair The Question and The Answer are missing but we would love to have them back. We also have copies of all his books and have used them as guides when visiting Machu Pitchu (spelling). Seran

    3. HI Martin - I was wondering how you came by my Grandfathers war medals. We know so little about him as he died when my Mother was 4 and I would love to know what medals he had ... I have a potted history of his service record but not much else.

  4. Perhaps interesting to know is that Stratford D. Jolly will feature in my coming book about treasure searching in the Pacific, the publishing date will be somewhere in april 2014, the book is unfortunately in Dutch, if you are interested let me know on facebook, look for Dwaalkoers Kokoseiland.
    all the best
    Gerbrand Kip

  5. Am just cataloguing a first edition of "The treasure trail : some adventures of Stratford D. Jolly" and will include a biographical note for him in our online catalogue. Have noted that a lot of the ex military/ authors of this era lived totally for the present, were larger than life and could all be role models for the character of Indiana Jones.
    Another fascinating ex military treasure hunter was Hervey Guy Francis Edward de Montmorency (1868-1942). Not doubt you included him in your book, Gerbrand and his book titled "On the track of a treasure : the story of an adventurous expedition to the Pacific island of Cocos in search of treasure of untold value hidden by pirates".

  6. Hello Sandra, yes, Hervey de Montmorency will appear as well in my book as do many other ex military men. Do you know his other autobiography as well: Sword and Stirrup?

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  8. An interesting webpage thanks! I realise that this is an old post but if anyone is interested in finding out more about Stratford Jolly, please take a look at my site about my Great Grandfather who knew him in the 1930's..

    Also see the 'Treasure Cruise' book page in the menu which has a great deal of information about how Straford Jolly organised the expedition to Cocos Island in 1933.