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

Just How Many

William Devonshire Sauls are There?

By John Slaughter

This article was originally published in the August 2005 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society

I mentioned in my coordinators report in the April 2005 journal that I had been contacted by the author of the updated account of William Devonshire Saull (WDS) that appears in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


This prompted a response from member Susan Payne-Barton. In her possession Susan had a number of documents that included the death certificate for WDS. This showed that he had died of a diseased stomach on 26 April 1855, at 15 Aldersgate Street, St Botolph, Aldersgate, London aged 72 years. The informant was Thomas Saull of the same address. Thomas appears to be WDSs brother.


Interesting though this was, what really intrigued me was that Susan also sent a copy of a marriage certificate of a William Devonshire Saull who had married Eliza Sutton at the Leicester Register Office on 20th December 1893. Apart from WDS the only other William Devonshire Saull of which I was aware was a nephew of WDS who had been born in Long Buckby, Northants in 1844 and died at Northampton in 1864. What is more when I checked the GRO marriage index I found another William Devonshire Saul who had married at Middlesbrough in 1875. Just how many of them were there and who were they? I had to follow this up.


The answer seems to be four. Apart from WDS and his nephew I have identified the other two by obtaining certificates.


1.   The William Devonshire Saull who married in 1893 was shown as being 60 years of age, a bachelor and a journalist. His father was Thomas Saull (deceased) a wine merchant. This identifies him as a son of WDSs brother Thomas. Thomas himself died at 15 Aldersgate Street on 1st October 1855, just a few weeks after his brother, aged 53 years. It seems clear that WDS and his brother Thomas were in business together as wine merchants. On the 1881 census I found William Devonshire Saull resident at 11 Sussex Terrace, St Pancras, London, aged 48, a wood engraver and born in Cripplegate, London. He was the head of the household. The only other occupant was Eliza R Saull described as his wife, aged 44 years and born in Barleton, Leicester. But William Devonshire was described as a bachelor on his marriage in 1893! It looks like William and Eliza had been living as husband and wife for many years prior to their marriage.


2.  The marriage certificate for William Devonshire Saul showed that he had married Harriet Ann Castiglioni at Middlesbrough on 17 November 1875. He was a butcher by occupation and a resident of Askern, Yorkshire. His father was John Saul, a master grocer. This information was sufficient to identify him as having been baptised at Askern on 4 November 1854 to John Saul and Mary Roebuck. He was baptised as William and is shown as William on all the other records seen. We are unaware that the name Devonshire appears in his family. Why then was he described as William Devonshire on his marriage? Could WDS have been sufficiently famous that William wished to be associated with his name or is that being a bit fanciful?

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