By Rosemary Bailey
This article was published in the December 2022 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society
At the annual gathering as well as the guest speaker’s talk we always have a short talk from a member of the committee. This year I had heard that Ancestry had released the UK, World War II Women’s Land Army Index Cards and I thought this might make a good talk.
The talk consisted of three parts, first how to access the data and what information is on the cards, then how many of our surnames are listed, and a look at one Saul Land Army worker in particular and lastly some information about the Land Army itself.
To access the records on Ancestry:
Select search > select card catalogue > enter Land Army in the top right hand box > click on UK, World War II Women’s Land Army Index Cards > enter as much of the person’s information as you have
The information that could be provided on the card is name, address prior to going into the Land Army, the county they are working in for the Land Army, their occupation prior to joining with the employers name, address, and type of business, whether they are prepared to move round the country and the locality preferred, qualifications, an official number and other remarks. These remarks could consist of information if the woman was transferred between counties, or if she left the Land Army.
To be honest a good majority of the cards just consist of a name, county and the words ‘Resigned’ with a date. However some have more information. Some of the ‘other remarks’ are quite interesting. For instance:
Miss Edith Maude Sewell, aged 23, resigned in 1945. Remarks: refused to obey instructions (reduction to agriculture recommended)
Miss Mary Joyce Swell previously of St Stephens College, Harlow helping in riding college. Other remarks: Resigned medical grounds anxiety, neurosis
Fortunately for a married woman the cards include the maiden name and both the married and maiden name will be picked up on the Ancestry search. A search of our surnames brings up:
Sewells – 40 records
Sauls – 16 records
Sole – 24 records
Solley – 24
Some of the names that come up are variants of our surname such as Soul, Sale etc…
One of the Saul cards for which there was a fair amount of information was for Miss Joyce Gertrude Saul, age 27. Her home address was given as Mill House, Fritton, Great Yarmouth. Her present occupation is given as poultry farmer. She had obviously worked for the land army in Essex, Norfolk and East Suffolk although from the card it’s not clear what order. She resigned from Essex on 30 September 1940.
Now we did know about Joyce, as her family had been written about in the journal by Jennie Saul in December 2009. In her article Jennie wrote:
I only got into genealogy in the last few years, and hadn’t realised the heritage behind the Saul’s of Norfolk. My father, Peter Saul, was born in 1944 and did not know the identity of his father (often the case during the war?), so therefore was given his Mother’s surname, SAUL. His mother, Joyce Gertrude Saul, (born 7 September 1911, died March 1989) became pregnant while unmarried. In danger of ruining the prestigious Victorian Saul family reputation in Norfolk, she had therefore been under pressure to leave the family home, and disappeared to Nottingham, which is where my father met my Mum and where I was born. Apart from some childhood holiday trips to the East Coast, Norfolk did not feature in my life.
Joyce was the daughter of Charles Lepard Saul a timber merchant of Great Yarmouth. In 1895 he married Ella Crane and had four children. After Ella died in 1921 he went on to marry the children’s governess.
Charles Lepard was born in 1871 the son of Thomas John Saul, who in the 1871 census, was described as a sawmill proprietor and timber merchant employing 22 men and boys. The family was living in Sefton Terrace, Great Yarmouth and employed a general servant and nurse girl. On the 1881 census Charles Lepard is away at ‘school’ in Markham, Norwich and living in the Bookham House with school master Charles Stowell and eight other boys.
Thomas John Saul was the son of Thomas Saul, born 1817, described as a sawyer on the 1841 census of Norwich. He is living with his wife Elizabeth (28) and son Thomas, age 1. There is an entry on the 1851 census but the Thomas Saul is described as a grocer and shopkeeper, still with wife Elizabeth and son Thomas, but also additional children William and Elizabeth.
Thomas John Saul was the son of William Saul of Stalham, born 1788 who in turn was the son of John Saul of Stalham, ag lab, born 1752.