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

SAUL Co-ordinator's Report March 1993

by Rosemary Bailey

We now have 22 SAUL members of the society out of a total of around 100. This is a good percentage I think, since the name of the society may well make some people feel (incorrectly) that the SAUL interest is only peripheral. 19 out of the 22 are family historians. Two others joined the society after receiving a 'cold' copy of the journal. This is where journals are sent out to SOLEs, SAULs, etc. listed in the phone book with the invitation to join the society. The remaining one, who was approached personally, is medieval historian Nigel Saul, who has recently published a book on The Age of Chivalry. His family comes from Leamington Spa and will clearly link with other Warwickshire families.

Recently, I sent off for transcripts of the Oxfordshire 1851 Census and abstracted all the SAULs. Partly as a result of information from members, partly by making charts from the IGI, and partly from census returns, the number of SAUL charts is now around 140.

Mainly, though, I have spent the period since the last journal in catching up with correspondence and generally organising myself. All SAUL members should have had at least one letter from me. I have been trying to implement a sensible filing system for the material I have received. I now have a period of six weeks at home before my baby arrives to really get down to charting all the material, starting off with completing the Lake District SAULs.

Talking of the Cumbrian SAULs, Glenda Manwaring tells us that on 3rd October, 1993, there will be a reunion for the descendants of Jeremiah and Ann Saul in the Lismore district of New South Wales. Jeremiah was baptised on 29 August 1831 at Whitehaven, Cumberland, the son of John and Mary Ann Saul. When he was about 16, he emigrated to Sydney and worked his way northwards up the coast to join up with cedar cutters. (The Australian cedar is, incidentally, nothing to do with the coniferous cedars of Lebanon but is related to mahoganies.) Jeremiah purchased a piece of land near Lismore, close to the Queensland border and not all that far from Brisbane. They had 12 children, so there are plenty of descendants to attend the reunion! We wish Glenda all the best with her venture and look forward to a full report ‑ and maybe even some new members ‑ in due course.

In the first edition of the journal, Don speculated as to the origin of the Midland SAULs. Mrs Elizabeth White has sent us a full report on her work on the SAWLEs of South Cornwall ‑ another large pocket of interest to the society. She has drawn our attention to the history of the family in An Historical Survey of the County of Cornwall by C.S.Gilbert, published in two large volumes in 1820, which begins as follows:

SAWLE of Penrice ‑ The family of Sawle is one of those set down by Carewas having come into England with William the Conqueror, and taken up their future abode in Cornwall. Its first settlement in these parts appears to have been at Towan, in St Austell, whence the descendants moved to Penrice in the same parish. Younger branches were afterwards seated at Newham and Polmaugan, in St Winnow, Laneastcot, in Tywardraeth, and other parts of the county.

Gilbert starts the pedigree with Oliver Sawle who was living at Penrice in the middle of the 16th century and continues with his son John who "was living at Penrice when Mr Carew wrote his Survey ofCornwall.

Penrice is in the parish of St Austell, one and a half miles south of the town, on the road to Pentewan. Brabner's Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, published in the 1890's

describes it as "the seat of the Sawle family". The Carew referred to by Gilbert is Richard Carew of Antony, who compiled a wonderful Survey of Cornwall, first published in 1602. It was twice reprinted in the 18th century, in 1811 (hence, no doubt, Gilbert's knowledge of it), and most recently in 1953. edited by F.E.Halliday with 70 pages of commentary. The curious thing is that Don, who has on his     bookshelves both Gilbert and Carew, has been able to find no reference to the SAWLEs in the latter. Neither SAWLE nor PENRICE appears in the index, there is no mention of them in Carew's general introductory historical matter nor in the section on the Powder hundred in which Penrice lay. Indeed, St Austell is not mentioned either, showing how in Carew's

time it was still an insignificant village. Maybe there is a stray reference somewhere else which missed indexing but it looks suspiciously as if Gilbert was giving a family story respectability and spurious antiquity by fathering it on Carew.

Mrs White also refers to an alleged reference in the Roll of Battle Abbey to a Norman Sawle or de Sully who in the time of William Rufus went to Glamorgan. Again it looks as if someone has tried to latch on to a similar name appearing in an ancient record. Don tells me that Ridlon is full of such instances.

My own family history research has only just got back to the 17th century, so I have great admiration for researchers who delve back into the medieval period. But of course, there is some formidable work ahead of us in evaluating and if necessary correcting (or even demolishing) these ancient stories. Mrs White is only too well aware of this. She prefaced her mention of these sources with the phrase: "Explanations given on pretty flimsy evidence for the origins of this SAWLE family are ......”.

For later periods, Mrs White has researched a host of rather more reliable published and unpublished Cornish sources such as the Heralds' Visitations or "that marvellous unpublished manuscript which is available on LDS film ‑ Charles Henderson's History of St.Just‑in­Roseland and St.Mawes." Her account of her researches is so interesting, that we hope to reproduce it in full in a later edition of the journal. However, she ends by saying:

“I think you'll agree that the Cornish Sawles aren't connected with your one‑name interest and therefore there isn't much point in my joining the Sole Society or in sending details of hundreds of Cornish Sawles who are irrelevant to you.”

Grateful though I am to Mrs White, I'm afraid I can't agree. Of course their are many separate origins for the hundred or so similar names Geoff has now listed for his database, but as the families moved around they all interwove and crossed over in ways we are only beginning to investigate. Even if we took a narrow view, many of the Cornish SAWLES are found with the spelling SAUL. Their descendants probably went elsewhere as most Cornish did. Without a knowledge of the Cornish SAWLEs we could not separate them out. But as it happens, we are very interested in the Cornish SAWLEs in their own right and quite recently. Don abstracted all of theni from the Cornwall FHS 1813‑37 Marriage Index, and from the first fourteen volumes of the Cornwall FHS Monumental Inscriptions index, the rest awaiting his next visit to Cornwall.

So we do hope that Mrs White will reconsider her decision. The Society really does need active family historians like her.

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