The Sole Society, a Family History Society researching Sole, Saul, Sewell, Solley and similar names

A Question of Identity (SAUL)

by John Slaughter

This article was originally published in the July 1993 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society

All of us hit problems sooner or later on our family lines but when I commenced researching my SAUL ancestors discovered a puzzle almost immediately.

My connection with the SAULs is fairly remote and originates from a Mary SAUL, my great great great grandmother, who married Cubit SPRINGALL at Mundesley, Norfolk on 27th September 1801. The marriage entry showed that Mary was of the parish of Mundesley but on checking the Mundesley parish registers I discovered the following entries:

1) Baptised 24th November 1776. Mary daughter of John SAUL and Mary.

2) Baptised 23rd March 1777 Mary daughter of John SAUL and Mary.

My initial thought was that perhaps there was a duplicated entry but as I researched further it became increasingly apparent that there were indeed two Marys and two separate families of John and Mary SAUL. Consider the following entries in the Mundesley parish registers:


1) 15th December 1771 John SAUL single of this parish and Mary BOWER single of this parish

2) 12th September 1776 John SAUL single of this parish and Mary SAUL single of this parish

3) 18th November 1801 John BARBER single of this parish and Mary SAUL single of this parish


1) 17th July 1774 Rebecca Pearson daughter of John SAUL and Mary

2) 16th October 1778 John son of John SAUL and Mary

Final confirmation that there were two Marys came when I found their burial entries:

1) Buried 17th June 1819 at Great Yarmouth Mary SPRINGALL aged 42

2) Buried 14th June 1840 at Mundesley Mary BARBER aged 63

The parish registers of Mundesley showed that there had been SAULs in the village for many years prior to Mary's baptism. It was clearly important to try and establish the identity of the two sets of parents. Principally I was looking to find two John SAULs and one Mary SAUL.

Further research showed that one of the major players in the game was a Jonathan SAUL of Mundesley. He was the father of both a John SAUL and a Mary SAUL who were baptised at Mundesley on 19th September 1741 and 30th July 1749 respectively. My theory is that John married Mary BOWER and Mary married John SAUL. There is however, very little by way of evidence to back this up. This would still leave a further John SAUL to identify (the one that married Mary) but there is no suitable baptism entry at Mundesley.

A baptism of a John SAUL on 2nd January 1757 at the nearby village of Trimingham is a possibility.

Though the position is confused, I think it is reasonably clear that Jonathan SAUL is the grandfather of my Mary; it is questionable whether this is through her father's or mother's side.

In trying to solve the puzzle I have researched a number of different sources including wills, marriage licences, manorial records and militia lists. All these records have a part to play as they may contain the one piece of information, nowhere else available, that proves, or just as important, disproves the theory. I have yet to solve my puzzle but the game is not over yet.

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