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

SAUL Searching in Lancashire

from Norman Saul

This article was published in the March 2000 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society. 

In early June 1998 I took early retirement and my son, Graham, persuaded me into working with him on tracing the ‘Family Tree’. He had already started a year or so earlier with my father's name and birthplace, which was in Nelson, Lancashire in March 1905. We had no-one to refer to as my father died aged 54 in 1959 and we have no family bible from which to gain information but I knew my Grandfather to be Fred Ingham Saul and we started from there.

Visits to the libraries at Burnley and Stockport and several visits to the County Record Office for Lancashire at Preston proved invaluable. Staff at these places are extremely helpful and guide you in the right direction. An area of frustration is when you find a document you would like to copy but are not allowed, presumably because it could cause damage. However you can still copy it onto paper, or send off to the Public Record Centre in London. Visits to the places above enabled me to trace back several generations. It proves that Christian names certainly run in families and Matthew, Robert and Mary appear over the generations of Sauls.

It would appear that my branch of the Sauls come from the Tatham area in the north of Lancashire and then moved to Chipping near Preston about 1800. The earliest record I have traced is the marriage of Matthew Saul to Mary Hey on 16 December 1793 by JP in Newton Lancashire (Parish of Slaidburn). Matthew, my 4 times Great Grandfather was baptised in the Parish of Gressingham, Lancashire on 6 December 1773, the son of William and Ann Saul.

The registers of Gressingham take us further back in time but as yet I have not proved a connection. Matthew Saul and Mary Hey had a big family, ten children in all, however as is typical of the time, records show that one died in infancy, three in early childhood and two more in their teens. Records also show Mary Hey dying in 1818 and Matthew re-marrying in 1819 having two children with Elizabeth Sharples, himself being buried in 1823.

One of Matthew’s sons, Robert, was my 3 times Great Grandfather. He married Mary Proctor on 28 April 1823 in Burnley, Lancashire. Robert like his father was a Master Tailor and appears to have been a tailor all his working life. They had five children, all boys, one of whom was named Matthew after his grandfather. The 1841 census shows this Matthew as an apprentice tailor living at Club Lane, Chipping, apprenticed to Hugh Cooper. Club Lane was so called because the local welfare club (Brothers Friendly Society, later Oddfellows) owned land and the club houses along this lane.

Matthew's mother Mary and his brothers are shown on the same census at Goose Lane Chipping. Robert Saul, their father died just prior to the census. On 10 November 1845 Matthew Saul married Ann Hoyle at St Bartholomew's Church, Chipping. The marriage certificate shows Matthew as a tailor and Ann as a cotton spinner. Ann's father is the village shoemaker.

About 1850 the whole family including Matthew's brothers moved to the Habergham Eaves area of Burnley. I do not know the reason, possibly more opportunities in a town rather than a village. Matthew and Ann had two boys, Robert and Thomas. Whilst census details in 1851 show Ann age 28 (spinner in cotton mill) and Thomas age 9 months in Club Lane, Chipping, there is no sign of Matthew or their other son Robert who would have been 3 years old. The 1861 census shows Ann with her sons in Habergham Eaves, Burnley. The boys are down as “works in foundry” but there is no sign of Matthew.

Matthew does not surface again until the marriage of Robert on 29 February 1868. Robert married Mary Ann Harker in Burnley and is shown as a Weaver. Matthew is shown on the certificate as “Artillery Private”. I have been unable to trace any of them on the 1871 census returns but the 1881 census produced by ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ has proved a real boon. I found my Great Grandfather Robert with his wife and five children including my Grandfather aged 2.

Robert's brother, Thomas, was a private in the Royal Marines on HMS Garnet. The 1891 census shows Thomas back in Burnley having married and left the Royal Marines. My Great Great Grandfather Matthew has always proved very elusive but there was a Matthew Saul, who in the 1881 census has married a widow, Louisa Purchase in Stourbridge, Worcs and is living at 17 Sumner Street Birmingham. Matthew's first wife, Ann Hoyle, died in 1877 leaving him available to re-marry.

I am enjoying the research and the results so far obtained and are due to pay my first visit shortly to the Family Record Centre in London. One sobering moment came when my wife and I visited the Church at Chipping in the summer of 1999. We sat in a pew in that beautiful old Church and thought of my Great Great Grandfather and his bride to be, walking down the isle some 154 years before.

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