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

Cumberland Saul's 1820

The Search for Sauls in Cumberland


by Lily Wood MBE and Keith Harding

This article was originally published in the May 2006 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society


A large number of mourners attended the funeral of the late William Saul on Wednesday afternoon, the deceased who had been ailing for some time, was out for a walk on the Sunday evening, when in front of the church  he had a stroke.


A few willing hands soon carried him to his home about 100 yards off.


Medical aid was called but William never rallied and died on the Monday morning.


William was a member of both the Foresters and the Rachabite Societies. Members of both societies numbering close to one hundred assembled at the house of their late brother, walking in front of the coffin which was borne by representatives of both societies. The Reverend FLH Millard officiated and the Foresters funeral service was read by Bro.W. Nelson.


The church was unable to accommodate all who were present!




The above is a word by word account of a newspaper article found in a small well worn family bible that belonged to my grandmother. Up to the point in time where we discovered the well worn Bible, neither my brother nor myself had any interest (or very little), in our family history. However this article was the catalyst and certainly whetted our appetite that led us to start researching our family history.


Williamís funeral was of such significance in Aspatria that a friend of my brotherís wife, Florence Moore (who is aged well into her eighties now and lived much of her life in Aspatria) can recall people discussing Williamís funeral some sixty years after the event.


John Saul, born 1820 in Lamplugh was the father of the above mentioned William who was born in 1847 in Bolton, Cumberland. John Married Nancy Harker who was born 1829 in Bolton, Cumberland.


They were married at Bolton on April 6th 1846. At the time of their marriage neither John nor Nancy could write and both marked the marriage register with a cross. Nancy was also classed as a minor.


John Saul was a coalminer; there is overwhelming evidence that suggests that after his marriage to Nancy, John relocated his family several times, following the work, moving from one coalmine to the next and ending his working career at Brayton colliery. Johnís relocation of his family becomes apparent when you examine the birthplaces of the children.


William born 1847 Bolton

Ann born 1852 Bolton

John born 1854 Allhallows

Rebecca born 1852 Allhallows

John born 1854 Bolton

Joseph born 1859 Bolton

Sarah born 1849 Bolton

Tom born 1863 Bolton

Elizabeth born 1865 Aspatria

Jeremiah born 1868 Aspatria.

Jane born 1871 Aspatria


All the places of birth were flourishing coal mines during the period.


By 1865 John Nancy and Family had moved to live in a miners house at Springkel, Aspatria , (Springkel  still exists today). John was then working at Brayton Colliery, Aspatria . John finally settled in the colliery houses at Harriston, Aspatria. The houses still exist as rows of terraced houses, although the colliery is no more. Nancy died in Aspatria on 15th January 1875. John died in Aspatria some 28 years later in 1898.


A little point of interest: my brother who was a postman in those days had reason to visit Newlands Row, Bolton Low Houses to deliver mail. This was long before we studied our family History. Newlands Row was where John and Nancy lived in 1851. There is a very old walnut tree at Newlands Row and my brother gathered walnuts from the tree. I wonder if John and his family gathered walnuts from the very same tree? Itís a nice thought!


John and Nancyís son, William, the man mentioned in the newspaper clipping above was our grandfather (x2). William was born on the 26th August 1847 at Waverbridge which was then classed as Bolton Low Houses, Cumberland. The thing that really fascinated me with the Registrars entry on the birth certificate was that J. Woof the Registrar had entered the actual time of birth, that time being 2h. 5m a.m. on the 26th August 1847. Itís the little things that bring researching to life; at least it does for me.


Sebbra Saul (nee Arnott) born 1847 Torpenhow, Cumberland, the wife of William Saul William married Sebbra Arnot (born in 1846 at Torpenhow) on the 11th November 1871 at Aspatria. Sebbra was a dressmaker by trade. Sebbra and William had seven children one of which was our Great grandmother, Sarah Ann Saul born 1872, Aspatria, Cumberland.


Sarah Ann married a Thomas Walby born 1875, Wigton. They moved to Flimby, Cumberland to live following Thomasís work. He was a Carter by trade. Sarah died in 1937 and Thomas in 1957.


Thomas and Sarah had three children Mary Hannah, Thomas and William.


Mining played an important role in our family history; the same could be said for most families in the area. Coalmining was by far the main industry in Cumberland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Practically all the men in our family tree worked in the coal mines it was very arduous and dangerous way to earn a living.


In fact William one of the sons of Sarah and Thomas was killed in an accident in what was known as one of the most dangerous coalmines in the Kingdom! An explosion of fire damp at William Pit, Whitehaven was responsible for the deaths of 104 men and boys one August Friday in 1947. William was one of those listed has being killed. 104 people lost their lives and 90 of those from carbon monoxide poisoning.


There is reference to criminal tendencies in the Saul family which are few and far between I might add. The Public Record Office reference T531/27 pp 220-211 Newgate Prison lists that a John Saul was sentenced to death in Cumberland in 1792, but had his sentence commuted to 14 years transportation in the summer of 1792.


This criminal tendency seems to have been perpetuated by the grandson of Sarah Ann. I mentioned earlier that Sarah Ann Saul and Thomas Walby had three grandchildren, one of which was a Thomas. Thomas was the father of John Robson Walby (alias Gwynne Owen Evans ) who was 24 years old, when on August 13th 1964 he and his accomplice were the last two people in Britain, to be executed in England. He was hanged for the murder of John West, a 53 year old laundry  worker ,who lived at Seaton Cumberland.


Walby was hanged at Strangeways Prison, after being found guilty of murder.   n


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