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

John Harold Saul 1899-1954

By Peter Saul

This article was originally published in the April 2005 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society

John Harold Saul 1899-1954I never met John Harold Saul, shown in the portrait. How I came by the portrait is an interesting tale in itself, and has prompted me to look in more detail at his background.


Late in 2004, John Slaughter forwarded to me a generous offer of the portrait made by Pete Barrs, of Liverpool. I am probably the closest Sole Society member to John Harold Saul. He was my grandfather’s cousin. I contacted Mr. Barrs, and he subsequently sent me the portrait, for which I am very grateful, and wish to recognise his generosity here; I will send him a copy of the article. He bought the portrait at a house clearance in Liverpool about 6 years ago. He is not related to the family, which makes his help the more considerate.


The portrait is in oil, lightly varnished, on either linen or linen card. The frame, not shown here, is gilt. The portrait could have been done from life or from a colour photograph, although of course colour film was very rare in 1950. The back of the portrait has two hand written stickers, “My Beloved, & Barbara faith Saul’s Father” and “May 1950 John Harold Saul Died 1954”. There is also a sticker by the picture framers, R. Jackson and Sons, 20 Slater Street, Liverpool L1 4BS. Their phone number was 051 709 2647.  They still exist, at the same address, with just the additional “1” in the phone number. It’s not clear when the portrait was made. Since the framers had a post code, that puts it as framed after about 1965. Similarly, the revised phone numbers with the additional 1 came in about 1990, so it predates that. There are thus several explanations possible; it could have been done from life, then framed or re-framed much later, or it could have been from a photograph in the 1960’s or possibly 1970’s. My interest is primarily in the person rather than the exact provenance of the portrait.


I have written earlier of the family history in and around Lancashire. My great grandfather, Joseph Saul, was in the Bacup Borough Police force, with his brother John. A third brother, Daniel, joined the Liverpool Police when all three brothers, and possibly more of the family, moved from Witherslack in Westmorland to the South Lancashire area in about 1882. Daniel was John Harold’s father. Mr Barrs did mention that there were some Police medals also in the sale; of course, now long gone.


The family resemblance, mainly to my late father, has been remarked on. The hairline in particular is similar, and the general features also show similarities, even down to eye colour. A comparison with a photo of my father, taken about the same age, shows the eye colour is not one of the characteristics one can easily gain from even a fairly modern photograph, unless taken as a close-up and in particularly good light. This tends to emphasise the possibility of a life portrait; or of course an imaginative painter, possibly with guidance on the topic.


John Slaughter has passed me some further information from the GRO indices. There was a marriage in 1927 of a John H Saul in the Wirral district, to a bride with surname Munnings. The birth indices show only one child, a Barbara F Saul in 1930, registration district Liverpool. This clearly ties in with the information on the portrait. Any more recent information would be of interest. Since the house sale was 5 or 6 years ago, it could have been on behalf of either Barbara F. Saul or just possibly her mother – or of course any other relative.


There are currently 18 Sauls listed by BT.COM if the search area is “Liverpool”. There are no B.F. Sauls, perhaps not to be expected anyway. There is one Peter Saul – the only one who lists a full first name. There are four with a first initial D, but of course there are several possibilities other than Daniel, a relatively uncommon name today.


The very distinctive tie ought to give some further information. Clearly it would be an important tie for him to have worn it in a portrait. I have not been able to trace it, but perhaps someone has information on it? The background is blue and black stripes, with no intermediate stripe, and the motif is a Bishop’s Mitre. Without the motif, I found similar stripes on the Inns of Court Regimental tie, although Bishop’s Mitres do not spring to mind in a military context. He would have been just old enough for WW1, probably too old for WW2. Otherwise, it could be a club tie, or possibly with a connection to the Cathedral.


Any information would be appreciated, on John Harold Saul, his descendents, or the other Saul branches in Liverpool. 

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