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

My Ancestors were in the Timber Business

By Leslie Saul

This article was originally published in the March 1997 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.

I reside on 5 mile by 2 mile Thetis Island in the Gulf of Georgia,  50 miles north‑west of Victoria. B.C.. Canada and I am 72 years of age. I have a son Donovan who lives on Thetis Island, and two daughters, Patricia who lives in Grantchester, Norfolk, while Jennifer lives in Victoria, B.C.

I became a journalist at 16, eventually owning and editing a weekly newspaper. I then managed radio and television news, public relations and government information. During WW2 I was a naval visual signalman with the Canadian Destroyer Escort Group 11, HMCS Gatineau (formerly, HMS Express) operating in UK waters until VE‑day. In 1983, 1 retired to a 7‑acre forested lot on Telegraph Harbour. My hobbies are amateur radio communications, and miscellaneous writing.

MY paternal great‑great‑grandfather Saul established a timber business in Great Yarmouth and my maternal great‑grandfather (also Saul) established a timber business in Norwich. I visited both locations in October 1995 and got hooked on family history.

I am new to the genealogy hobby. Although I had a few names, a couple of letters, and some dates from the back of the family Bible, all I knew about the family history came from half‑remembered stories my mother told me in my childhood. When I rather unexpectedly found myself in England in the autumn of 1995, I took the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Great Yarmouth and another couple in Norwich, the birthplaces of my parents.

in Cobham, across the river from Great Yarmouth, I found a sign bearing my family name designating a light industrial area that encompasses the locale where my great‑great‑grandfather's timber business was once located. This led me to search out directory information back to the company's founding, the residences where my immediate ancestors were born and lived (listed in the directory) and references to my mother's family in Norwich, also in timber, which did business with the Yarmouth family. I discovered that my paternal great-great-grandfather originally established in Norwich and that his brother, also in timber, ran the business in Norwich.

Thanks to the research of John Slaughter, I have learned that my mother and father were second cousins, my father's great‑grandfather's brother being my mother's grandfather. (This sounds something like the old song ‑‑I'm my Own Grandpa‑‑­doesn't it?) In any case, that's how I got involved in genealogy. I find it is akin to eating salted peanuts ‑ it's hard to stop.

Since there is reference in the Domesday Book listing for Devon (or is it Dorset?) to "...SAUL, holding Hampreston before 1066 ...." according to the translation of the Old English text, I find it fascinating to speculate on the family origin: French from the Norman invasion, Hebrew from heaven's knows where, or something else. Being a journalist by profession and a romantic by instinct, I have the urge to tell the story of my family in narrative form rather than through simply cold statistics and in this way make it more interesting reading for my descendants. (I am a great believer in the pride of tribe and clan. I should have been a Scot! )

How I am going to find the necessary personal information such as occupations, etc., as I have seen in the writings or other family history researchers. I don't know. But I will work with what I have. Articles describing other researchers experiences in this regard are what I would find most interesting in Soul Search.

I note that Mrs. Elizabeth Hughes, the SOLLEY co‑ordinator lives in Kingston‑upon‑Thames. This is also the last known address I have for my mother's youngest brother, Leslie. I have no idea whether he had any children or if any SAULs still live there. I telephoned him from Ireland when I was overseas in the Navy, but he was not interested in seeing me.

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