The Saul Family on the Macleay
by John Slaughter
This article was originally published in the April 2003 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
In Part One we told the story of two brothers William and James Saul who emigrated from Norfolk to Australia and made a new life for themselves. The story is largely taken from the March 1995 journal of the Macleay River Historical Society to whom we are grateful for giving permission to publish extracts.
The story continues with details of the lives of some of the descendants of William and Janet Gray.
John Edward Saul
John Edward Saul was the son of William and Janet Saul. Born in 1872 he attended the Seven Oaks School. Later he was employed by Tom Boyce as a blacksmith’s assistant, a trade in which he showed a lifelong interest.
His next employment was with his brother William as a butcher boy. Using a rowing boat, he delivered meat to farmers between Frederickton and Smithtown. After the death of his father (1892) he worked with his mother Janet on the farm, the occupation he was to follow for the rest of his life.
At the age of twenty five he married Alice Jane Rowe of East Frederickton and started on a rented farm. He took up land on his mother’s property at Seven Oaks and named it Costonville.
A keen sportsman, he excelled in rowing, sculling, sailing and rifle shooting. His wide experience with floods in the area where he lived was of great benefit to many other farmers who relied on his advice for the movement of stock.
A very active member of the Anglican Church, he held positions on the Central Parochial Council of the Central Macleay. He was first chairman and for many years a director and guarantor for the Seven Oaks Drainage Union. His other interests were the Shire Council of which he was a member and also President of the Little Bay Trustees. He was also a committee member for many years of the Kempsey Show Society.
William John Saul
Another of the sons of William and Janet, William John was born in 1865 and attended Seven Oaks School and at the age of sixteen years took a position as boatman at Grassy Head Pilot Station under Captain Jamieson.
Once a month it was his duty to pilot the tug “Pelican” to Solitary Lighthouse with provisions for the light keeper. He frequently piloted vessels up the Macleay as far as Frederickton.
Illustrative of his courageous nature and ready initiative in cases of emergency, his prompt action when the steamer “Queen of the South” went on a sandbank at the Macleay Entrance during his term as boatman. The vessel under the command of Captain Russell was in a dangerous position. William was on board with the rest of the boatman and h promptly took a line and swam ashore in shark infested waters. There willing hands soon had the vessel secured.
During the floods of 1893, the family had to abandon their farm at Seven Oaks and take refuge in a boat. Next morning, William went back to find a barge afloat on the farm. He was asked to take charge of the barge and return it to the main river. As waters receded he was compelled to tow it across the Seven Oaks swamplands into Clybucca Creek using poles as a guide.
William started a butchery with his brother Tom at Seven Oaks and later extended it to Frederickton. During the Great War he supplied meat to the internment camp at Trial Bay.
Ever a keen sportsman, he won many a “settlers” boat race at the Regattas of bygone years. As a skipper of an eighteen footer, he had few peers. Another family interest in horses and horse racing led him to win many races on the Bellimbopinni Race course.
About 1919 he built a fine house at Frederickton and lived there until his death in 1938. He married Hilda Sullivan, daughter of William Sullivan of Bowranville.
Thomas James Saul
Gwen Hackett who kindly sent me the Macleay River Historical Society journal also forwarded on to me details of an advert that appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald seeking descendants of Thomas James Saul and his wife Edith. I knew that Thomas James was another of the sons of William Saul and Janet Gray so responded to the advert.
The advert was placed by a granddaughter of Roy Minifie Clifford Marttin who together with his brother Rupert was fostered by Thomas James and Edith. Sadly both of the brothers were killed in World War One.
I was sent a copy of the obituary that appeared in the Macleay Chronicle on Wednesday 13th June 1917 recording the funeral of Thomas James Saul. It reads
“Deceased, a member of the widely known and highly respected Saul family, passed away Friday last, aged 50 years, after a few months suffering a throat infection which baffled all medical skill. He leaves a family of four sons, the eldest 15 and the youngest about a year old, and a widow, the daughter of Mr G T Boyes of Warrell Creek, with all of whom much sympathy is expressed. The late Mr Saul was a native of Seven Oaks where he established himself pre-eminently successful as a dairy farmer, and it was his undisguised pride that his son was becoming as expert as himself.”
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