Joseph Saul Clerk of Greenrow

By Richard Saul

This article was published in the August 2020 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society

In the April 2020 edition of Soul Search I wrote about Joseph Saul the mathematician who wrote a mathematics book and a companion book of answers. In some sources he is credited with writing a book of poems published in 1831 but we know that Joseph the mathematician died in 1798.
I described how the Saul and Drape families were involved in education in Cumbria in the 18th century and beyond. We have been aware of the will of another Joseph Saul described as ‘Clerk of Greenrow’ who died in 1845. In his will he left his estate to his wife Eliza. Early Saul research by John Orme noted that this Joseph was a Church of England minister in Warrington (now in Cheshire).
Recently my son Clive and I have made further searches on the internet and have found a book by William Beamont published in 1878 entitled Warrington Church Notes – The Parish Church of St Elfin (now known as St Elphin). The church dates back to the Domesday Book and is close to the building where Oliver Cromwell is reputed to have stayed during the Civil War. Another church in the centre of Warrington is Trinity Church and the history of the Ministers of Trinity Church is also detailed in William Beaumont’s book.
Chapter IX of the book tells us that Joseph Saul “…from the north…’ was appointed as minister in 1814, having previously been in the curacy of the nearby Newchurch in Winwick parish in the north of Warrington. Joseph “… received his education under a relative of his own name – the keeper of a celebrated Academy in Green Row, in the parish of Holme Cultram.”
After Green Row Joseph went to Thorpe Arch Grammar School near Tadcaster where he was tutor in Classics. This is said to have “…stood him in the place of any university course…”. He started a diary on 5th April 1814 of events at Trinity Church with entries in Latin and Greek. The book prints an entry 27th August 1815 in Latin regarding his sermon following the battle of Waterloo.
Joseph also tutored pupils in the Classics and a biography of William Gaskell records that Joseph’s tuition helped him to go to Glasgow University. William was unable to attend Oxford or Cambridge because he was a non-conformist. He married Elizabeth Stevenson in 1832 who, as Elizabeth Gaskell, became the well-known writer of Cranford and other novels. [Ed: If you haven’t read Cranford you really should, it is a classic of the 19th century and one of my favourite books. It was published in instalments between 1851 and 1853 and has been adapted for TV three times, most recently and very successfully in 2007, with Eileen Atkinson, Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon. Elizabeth Gaskell also wrote the first autobiography of Charlotte Bronte]
Joseph was very popular and all went well with his ministry until 1821 when “ …he was betrayed by intemperance into grave irregularities, which aggravated still further by an act of extreme indiscretion by his wife caused him to be suspended by the bishop from his clerical functions.”
Joseph “…like a stricken deer…” returned to Greenrow Academy where he continued as Classics tutor until his death in 1845. He was buried in the churchyard of Abbey Town, Holme Cultram with the inscription “Joseph Saul born 1788, died 1845” – placed by his wife.
Beamont’s book tells us that Joseph was author of Edwin and Helen and other short poems published in 1814. In 1820 he printed another volume of short poems. In 1831 he published a further volume called Rhymes and Reminiscences containing poems of considerable merit. Some of the poems and diary entries are included in the William Beaumont’s book and the first verse of one, is given here.
We know from his will that Joseph’s estate passed to his wife Eliza but there is no reference to any children. We have identified the wedding of the Rev Joseph Saul, of Winwick to Elizabeth Sawrey
at Warton, Lancashire on 17th August 1812, but as yet are unable to confirm Joseph’s parentage.
Joseph is clearly another Saul involved in the academic developments in the 18/19th centuries. We hope to explore this further in future articles.