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






by John Slaughter


 This article was originally published in the August 2008 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society



Given that Norfolk is considered to contain one of the sources of the Saul name, from the village of Salle (pronounced Saul), it is possible that the roots of the Sauls to be found in the neighbouring counties may be in Norfolk. There are significant numbers of Sauls to be found in the counties of Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire whose origins have not be identified back beyond a specific time.



The historic and picturesque village of Lavenham was home to many generations of Sauls from the 1640s right through to the early 1800s. Lavenhamís fame and fortune was built upon the woollen trade and no doubt many of the Sauls would have been engaged in that trade.  As the woollen industry declined so the Sauls gradually moved away and we can establish that quite a few made their way to Ipswich. Two of our members are descended from a Timothy Saul who is believed to have moved to Ipswich from Lavenham in the early part of the 19th century. Census returns for Ipswich show a Thomas Saul, aged 54 in the 1851 census, as having been born in Lavenham. Both of them, though, appear to have followed in the footsteps of an earlier Lavenham Saul as a Settlement Certificate exists for a John Saul and his wife Mary, dated 16 September 1770, and addressed to the parish of St Margarets Ipswich certifying that their place of settlement was Lavenham. The patriarch of the Lavenham tree that we have charted is a Robert Saul who had five children baptised at Lavenham between 1643 and 1651. Robert had married Mary Cropley at Acton, Suffolk on 18 June 1637. There are 117 individuals on the chart, though clearly it does not include all the Lavenham Sauls, as neither the John or Thomas mentioned above is included. Whether all the Lavenham Sauls are related and descend from Robert and Mary needs further research.


The 19th century census returns reveal that there was a Saul family in Ipswich descended from a John and Martha (nee Ager). John was said to have been born in Ipswich around 1803 and though no research has been done, it is possible that he may be a descendant of the John and Mary from Lavenham mentioned above.



We have two significant trees for Cambridgeshire. One originates in Littleport and the other Cambridge.


The patriarch of our Littleport chart is a Robert Saul who married Elizabeth Gotobed at Littleport on 28 May 1781. They had six children baptised at Littleport between 1782 and 1801. Robert was buried at Littleport in 1835, his age being recorded as 74 years. The chart contains 54 individuals. Littleport was the scene of a labourerís revolt in 1816 during which two rioters were killed and seventy five taken prisoner. There is no evidence that any Sauls took part but they may well have witnessed some of these events. What evidence we have suggests that the Littleport Sauls were labourers so would have suffered the same harsh living conditions that led to the uprising.


Our Cambridge chart originates from a marriage at St Andrew the Great, Cambridge on 2 August 1752 between Samuel Saul and Sarah Chapman. Though they had eight children baptised between 1753 and 1766, six of the children either died as infants or as young children. Even by the standards of the day that must have been extremely harrowing. The two survivors were the first and last born, Samuel and Simeon respectively. Both were to marry and have issue themselves and in total we have recorded 67 individuals on the chart. Samuel, the father, was buried at St Benedicts, Cambridge in 1787, his age being recorded as 61 years.



Lincolnshire presents a baffling picture when trying to theorise on the origins of the Sauls to be found within that county. If the starting point for researching the Lincolnshire Sauls is the 19th century censuses it would be reasonable to think that they mainly derive from only two Saul families. One of these families, in fact, and which settled in Spalding, is actually a branch of the Cambridge tree, mentioned above.


The only large Saul family that we can identify in Lincolnshire centres on the village of Sibsey. It was there that a John Saul and his wife Lucy (nee Kelsey) raised their five children, born between 1754 and 1766. Some of their descendants, who have been extensively traced and researched by one of our members, remained at Sibsey right through to the 20th century. Though John Saul had been born at Sibsey his parents were from the nearby village of Stickney. The earliest Saul traced at Stickney is a Thomas Saul who with his wife Elizabeth had eight children baptised at Stickney between 1673 and 1690. In total the tree contains 415 individuals.


Most of the remaining information we have on the Lincolnshire Sauls is based on the IGI and this is where things start to get a little confusing. It might be thought from the above that there would not be many Saul entries in the IGI outside of the above families, but that would be wrong. According to the Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers nearly all Lincolnshire parishes are included in the IGI, so the index probably includes the vast majority of the Saul entries, which should make it relatively easy to construct family trees. Wrong again.


From analysing geographically where most of the Saul entries occur it is possible to loosely identify four main areas.


Firstly we can identify an area in the northern part of Lincolnshire, south west of Scunthorpe, where Saul entries appear in the registers of the neighbouring parishes of Haxey annd Owston. The earliest entries in the IGI for both parishes occur in the early years of the 17th century. However the IGI entries only start in 1599, we cannot rule out the possibility that there were Sauls in these parishes earlier. The last Saul entry at Haxey was in 1742, apart from an isolated marriage in 1783. Saul entries at Owston extend through to the early years of the 19th century where we find a Jonathan and Hannah (nee Waterhouse) baptising eight children between 1801 and 1817. Jonathan is probably the Jonathan baptised at Owston in 1778 to John and Mary. No research has been done on what became of Jonathanís family but there were no members still in Lincolnshire by the time of the 1851 census. Haxey and Owston are only about 12 miles east of Doncaster, so it is possible that the origins of this north Lincolnshire branch could be the Doncaster area, where we have a significant Saul concentration.


Secondly is an area centered around Sleaford. We can identify Sauls in this area from as early as the middle of the 16th century. This, of course, goes back to the earliest days of the keeping of parish registers so it may well be that Sauls were in the area much early than this. What is interesting though is that although Sauls can be found in the registers of a considerable number of parishes in the area there are very few entries to be found after the middle of the 18th century. So it appears that all the Saul families either died out or moved away.


The third concentration is around the Spalding area. Again we find there were Sauls in residence as early as the latter half of the 16th century. And again they seem to have died out as they have all gone by the end of the 17th century, apart from a few isolated entries at Spalding and the family mentioned above.


The final concentration is around the Boston area and which includes the Stickney/Sibsey family mentioned above.


Of the four Lincolnshire areas I have suggested that the Sauls in the northern part may have drifted over from Yorkshire. I can offer no theory for the origins of the Sauls in the other three areas. As we have seen they seem to have been around at the time that parish registers were first introduced and therefore in all likelihood prior to that. The large geographical spread suggests that there must be several families involved. What is curious is that apart from the Sibsey Sauls they all seem to have died out/moved away by the 19th century.


Finally I should mention that I have included with the Lincolnshire charts, the chart for Solomon Saul and his descendants. Though by the time he changed his surname from Solomon to Saul he was no longer resident in Lincolnshire, the evidence suggests that he was born Saul Solomon in Boston. This chart currently contains 56 individuals.  


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