By John Slaughter
This article was published in the December 2016 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society
Ed: Last edition we had a break from John Slaughter’s Saul Criminals as we had a few other articles about crimes. This article finishes the series and also includes some Sauls who were victims of crime…
Thomas Saul was aged 41 years, a clerk, when a charge was brought against him at Norwich on 6th January 1885 that he feloniously and frequently embezzled and stole on various dates between 22nd November 1883 and 31st July 1884 various sums of monies from his master James Wilkin Lacey of Norwich. The records show that though ‘A true bill for embezzlement was found against prisoner, the case was adjourned to the Assizes as a consequence of his absence through illness’. He was subsequently tried on 19th January 1885 when he pleaded guilty to embezzlement and was sentenced to 9 months hard labour.
What I particularly noticed when recording this event was the familiar name of the victim, James Wilkin Lacey. He was also the victim of the crime by Charles Saul in 1882. Both Charles and Thomas had been in the employment of James Wilkin Lacey and both had stolen from him. I was able to identify Thomas Saul and found that he was recorded on the same chart as Charles, so suspected that they were near kin. However I found that they were much more distantly related: 3rd cousins, once removed. Would they have known each other? Or was this a mere coincidence? James Wilkin Lacey was in business as a builders merchant in Norwich.
A farm produce merchant, William Saul, aged 48 years, was tried at Preston, Lancashire on 1st July 1925 on two charges of stealing a horse and a harness on 5th May 1925 at Medlar-with Wesham, the property of Matthew Carter. He was found guilty and was bound over to appear at the Intermediate Sessions on 4th August 1925 for sentencing. He subsequently was sentenced to 1 months imprisonment.
I have a possible but by no means certain identification.
Alfred Fitch was tried at the Old Bailey on 20th May 1896 on two counts of bigamy for having married Caroline Saull and Alice Amelia Barr when not being free to do so, his wife still living. He was found guilty on both counts and sent to prison for 5 years.
He married Caroline Saull in 1894 and then Alice Amelia Barr in 1896. There is some commentary on the trial on the Old Bailey Online website and from this we learn that Caroline was the daughter of a William Saull of 34 Marley Road, Homerton. It appears that subsequently Caroline married a Joseph Robert Heath in Hackney in 1899.
Sarah Saull was the victim of a conspiracy to defraud her of her share in the goodwill of a business and £4,000. The trial took place at the Old Bailey in 1876 and is extensively reported on the Old Bailey Online website. From this I was able to identify who Sarah Saull was and the involvement of our good friends the William Devonshire Saull family, who I have written about many times previous.
Originally William Devonshire Saull and his brother Thomas Saull had been in business as wine merchants. Both the brothers had died in 1855. It appears that subsequently the business was carried on by Mrs Sarah Saull (wife of Thomas) though managed by her son William Devonshire Saull (junior). By 1858 the business was in a bad way and needed new capital and business partners. Along came Charles Godfrey and William Jarman Brown, who it appears were already employed in the business, and jointly they entered into a partnership agreement, the business then trading under the name of Saull, Godfrey and Brown. It is stated that the partnership ceased in December 1871 and it appears was followed by a series of disagreements and legal writs culminating in Godfrey and Brown going on trial in 1876.
From the report of the Proceedings of the Court it is difficult to make out what the substantive case against Godfrey and Brown was. There seems to be some suggestion that they may have taken wines from the business and sold them on their own account. However the Court must have found the evidence unconvincing as both defendants were found not guilty.
However that was not the end of the matter as in 1878 William Jarman Brown is again before the Old Bailey, this time charged with deception and perjury. This time he was found guilty and received a sentence of six months imprisonment. It would appear from the evidence that Charles Godfrey had died by 1878.
Edward Smith was tried at the Old Bailey of unlawfully attempting to steal a watch, the property of William Saull. He was tried on 6th April 1857 and found guilty.
Later that year another trial took place at the Old Bailey where Francis and Sarah Paynter were jointly found guilty of stealing a sovereign, 5 half sovereigns and 6 shillings from William Saull.
The Old Bailey Online reports do not give enough information about the victims to make positive identifications and to know if the victims were the same person.