Their oldest surviving son Jonah,
with the assistance of his brothers John
and Jonas, took on the responsibilities of the family firm early
in 1870 in order to allow their parents the freedom to pursue their
hobbies in a carefree retirement. Jonah (who from a very early age
had asked the question: 'How hard can making putty be?!')
was a fantastic success and between 1871 and 1887 he quadrupled
Britain's putty production in real terms, producing thereby a surplus
which could be exported to all parts of the Empire. In the meantime
his father produced a constant stream of miniature cigar boxes inlaid
with exquisite marquetry, whilst his mother embroidered over two
thousand samplers bearing the Selman-Troytt motto: Per Vitrum
With such commercially enterprising forebears already in situ, and with academic honours for the family already being pursued by various of the middle children such as Joseph (Eton), Jasper (Oxon.), and Jonty (Cantab.), it was not expected that Jeremy should function at any level of proficiency (whether physical or intellectual) beyond that expected of a gentleman of leisure. Accordingly, he was never sent to school, and received no formal education whatsoever beyond a three month sojourn with a private tutor at the age of fourteen. Sadly, Jeremy's talent did not distinguish itself by its precocity and even these lessons were abandoned when his father discovered - during an impromptu oral examination over dinner - that his son had neither Latin nor Greek, and indeed was so weak at mathematics that an angry Selman-Troytt père was moved to exclaim: 'T'lad couldn't even combine two bags of putty in a bath!'
But Jeremy took a different view of this failed attempt to lift him on to the first rung of literacy and was so inspired by the final words of his departing tutor: 'Believe no man who calls you a fool - even those who know you as well as I do.', that he underwent a period of intensive self-education which began with reading skills acquired from surreptitious glances into old copies of The Lancet, made when his father's back was turned. His choice of reading matter - although totally inadvertent - was to engender two significant changes within the developing child: it was to foster a fascination with science and investigation which continued unabated until his untimely death at the age of only forty-eight; furthermore, it provided a depth of specialisation which meant that he could, from the age of seventeen onwards and in theory at least, perform amputations and other major surgery.
As a Victorian, Selman-Troytt saw that the 'natural'
purpose of education was that of moral improvement; but he was also
heavily influenced by the pioneering spirit of technological and
scientific progress that gripped the age. Both factors are very
evident in his work. His writings display a keen sense of observation
over, and a fascination (one might even say a 'passion') with all
topics from the monumental to the trivial, in particular those which
display a direct connection with himself. In an age of discovery
and 'wonderment', where the dedicated 'amateur' could still discourse
on level terms with the learned professional, what distinguishes
Selman-Troytt from his peers is not only his unflagging enthusiasm
but also his diligent application even in the face of personal hardship.
No change within his body escaped his scrutiny, no event was deemed
too insignificant to record, and no detail considered inconsequential
if it might instruct others.
Selman-Troytt was crushed by falling masonry in 1916.