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

Sauls in Bury, Lancashire

By Peter Henry Saul

This article was originally published in the April 2001 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.

I am not a very diligent researcher into family history; it is more of an interest at the moment. However, some time ago I sent in two photographs for the web site, of my grandparents and of my father. Recently Tim Soles asked me to write a short article, and here it is. I do have most of the relevant death and marriage certificates, so when I find the time, I need to go a generation or two further back.

The photograph below is the one on the web site, and I have added another of interest too. Unfortunately neither photograph is dated, but the first is relatively easy to pin down to within a year or so. The second is more difficult.

John Thomas Saul and his wife Beatrice MaryThe couple in the photograph are John Thomas Saul, and his wife Beatrice Mary. They married in the parish church of Royton, near Bury in the county of Lancashire in February 1916. The photograph was probably taken shortly afterwards. They had two sons, John, (1917-1963) and Henry (1919-1986). The children were named after their maternal grandfather, John Henry Schofield.

John Thomas Saul was a ‘Fitter’, ‘Iron Fitter’ or ‘Engineer’ on the various certificates. Family history says that he was in a reserved occupation in the First World War, although there appears to be a regimental badge on his lapel. He died after 19 days of influenza in early 1924, possibly one of the last victims of the great pandemic which followed that war.

John Thomas’ father Joseph Saul was shown as deceased on the marriage certificate; he was formerly a Police Sergeant. When my father, Henry, joined Bacup Police in 1948, he was given the number 5 which had belonged to his uncle and before that to his grandfather. The uncle was one of two in the force whom he did not know about until that time!

Beatrice Mary SaulThis photograph is Beatrice Mary Saul, probably taken about 1930 and in a photographer’s studio. Beatrice Mary was my grandmother, and I recall seeing her frequently when I was a child in the early 50’s. Having brought up two sons without a father present, in the days before the welfare state, she was naturally a formidable lady to a small grandson.

She lived on Bolton Road, Bury. Opposite her house was an army barracks, and from the time that John and Henry left home in 1939 to go to war, she often took in officers as boarders; this continued until the early 50’s.

The government of the day decided to convert the barracks into a prison, not a scheme much liked locally. Beatrice Mary was widely quoted in the national press as saying that she would ‘sleep with a gun under my pillow’ if that happened. Her earlier officer contacts proved useful too, so that the scheme did not go ahead. I drove past the site about a year ago, for the first time in many years. The barracks is almost unchanged in external appearance from those days, and is now a military museum; I like to think in small part in tribute to her.

Many thanks to John Slaughter for help in starting on the research – sorry I’ve not progressed much John!

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