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

SAUL Co-ordinator's Report April 1995

by Rosemary Bailey

Two new members of the Society, Pamela Gamer and Canadian member Margaret Bowman have provided me with more information on the SAULs of Byfield, Northamptonshire. I had completed about a dozen charts for BYFIELD in the Autumn of 1992. The source was mostly some copies of Bishop's Transcripts (usually referred to as BTs ‑ annual copies of bap­tisms, marriages and burials sent to the Bishop from 1598 onwards which survive for most dioceses but are usually incom­plete) which had been sent to our President, Pauline Saul, plus entries from the IGI (the Mormon International Genealogical Index). It was not a particularly satisfying set of charts, having more than the usual number of loose ends ‑ interchangeable Thomases and Williams etc. ‑ so it was nice a year or so later to go back and make some con­nections and flesh out the bones a little.

 Pam Garner is descended from William Saul who married Arm Gubbins at Byfield on 3 March 1752. The youngest of their four children was William, who married Elizabeth Devonshire in 1781. Their great‑grandson, another William, moved to Northampton in 1847 and died there on Christmas Day 1886 aged 71. In his obituary he was described as a prominent man in the town, a well‑known wine and spirit merchant of Sheep Street. He had been connected with the administration of the town, being on the Board of Im­provement Commissioners and a Guardian of the Poor.

 Margaret Bowman is descended from Wil­liam Saul (born c. 1685) and Mary Daffon of Chalcombe, who married at Byfield 17 April 1714. They certainly baptised four children if not six. One of the children was given in the BTs as Jane (baptised 11 November 1722). However, Mrs. Bowman's searcher, working on parish registers in the Northamptonshire Record Office, came up with a male child ‑ James! I have to say that a James would fit rather better than Jane does. And as the BTs are a copy of the Parish Registers and what I have is a copy of them, the copy made directly from the Parish Register is more likely to be right. James married Rebecca Brooks in Byfield on 12 October 1746. The couple had five children baptised between 1747 and 1756, their first being Mrs Bowman's great‑great‑great‑grandmother. Their fourth child, John, attained some notoriety. The following newspaper reward notice and report were sent to Mrs. Bowman by a Mr. Richard Griffin of Surrey whose mother Edith was the daughter of Tom Saull, a brother of Mrs. Bowman's ancestor Samuel Saull, a good example of how the Society is collecting in material discovered over the years by quite a wide network of searchers.

 The Reward Notice appeared in the Northamptonshire Mercury of 21 March 1783.

ESCAPED FROM JUSTICE, John Saull of the parish of Byfield in the county of Northampton­shire, by trade a cooper (and formertimes works at the bottle­making and bendware branches) aged about 29, five feet eight or nine inches high, high broad face, has a rough voice, dark brown hair inclined to curl, dark complexion, grey eyes and rather round­shouldered. Had on light mixed grey coat and waistcoat with metal buttons, corduroy breeches, round hat and plated shoe buckles if not altered. The said John Saull stands charged with the murder of Sarah Bush of Byfield aforesaid. Whoever will apprehend the said John SaulI and lodge him in any of his Majesty's gaols and give immediate notice thereof to Richard Harris the Constable of Byfield aforesaid shall receive the sum of FOUR GUINEAS reward.

 To find out the exact circumstances of the murder we turn to the Northamptonshire Mercury of 7 April 1783, two weeks later.

Last Saturday night an inquisition was held at Byfield in this county before Samuel Smith, gent, on view of the body of Sarah Bush of the parish, who died by the effects of poison. On the examination of witnesses it appeared that the de­ceased was with child, by one John Saull, a cooper of the same town, who persuaded her to ac­company him to a hayrick near Byfield on the pretence of giving her honey, in which he infused a quantity of mercury, in order to incur an abortion. She accord­ingly drank something disagree­able and proceeded to vomit, which he prevented by holding her head up. The unfortunate woman languished from Sunday on to Friday the 19th inst., but expired. The jury brought in their verdict of murder, by the above John Saull. But notwithstanding capture, he escaped justice.

 These days, of course, the charge would not be murder but manslaughter or culpable homicide, for there was clearly no intention to kill.

 We don't yet know whether John was caught but there seem to have been criminal tendencies among the SAULs for quite a while. Four SAUL convicts are listed in Peter Wilson Coldham's The Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage 1614 ‑1775. A Thomas Saul was sentenced in Mid­dlesex in January 1719 and transported in February in the Worcester. The landing certificate at Annapolis, Maryland is dated June 1719. More details about him are given in Marion and Jack Kaminkow's Original Lists of Emigrants in Bondage from London to the American Colonies 1719 ‑1744. Prior to transportation, Tho­mas was held in Newgate Prison. This was run by the City of London and was the county gaol for Middlesex. The transport is here called the Worcester Frigate. It carried 97 convicts and the Captain was an Edwin Tompkins. Thomas was received on board on 20 Feb 1718/19. The Public Record Office reference is T 53127 pp.220‑221, Newgate Prison. Coldham also shows that a John Saul was sentenced to death in Cumberland in 1729 but had his sentence commuted to 14 years transportation in the summer of 1729. Sarah Saul was sentenced to transportation in Devon and was transported to Virginia in March 1732 by transportation bond, i.e. she was bonded to work for a particular person in Virginia. Henry Saul was sentenced to transportation in Middlesex in July 1772 and transported the same month on the Tayloe.

 Coldham's book is only an index so we will have to go to the Assize Records for more details. It would be interesting to know what mischief they had all got up to. In Coldham's index there were also a couple of SOULs, a clutch of SEWELLs, and one SOLLY so we all seem to have been just about as bad as each other.

 Don has copies of the biographical volumes for the First and Second Convict Fleets to Australia published by the Library of Australian History. There was no SAUL in the First Fleet but in the Second was a Joseph Saul, born c.1738. His biography reads:

JOSEPH SAUL, late a pauper was sentenced to seven years trans­portation at the 23 May 1787 Old Bailey sessions for the theft on 10 May of 23 pairs of men's, women's and children's shoes and a linen sheet from St Luke's Workhouse where he had been an inmate. The workhouse fronted the north side of City Road and the west side of Shepherds Walk, then on the fringe of North London. He was arrested carrying the shoes and claimed in court that a man had hired him to carry them. He was later sent to the Ceres hulk at Langstone Harbour, Portsmouth, age given as 48, whence he was embarked on the Surprize trans­port on 30 November 1789.

The biography goes on to say that the only record of Saul's presence in the colony is his mention in evidence recorded relating to a dispute between Richard Atkins and John MacArthur in July 1796. John MacArthur was to become the uncrowned king of New South Wales. He went to Australia as an army officer in 1790, but by 1795 had acquired some land and was experimenting with the breeding of sheep. In 1796, he obtained some of the merino sheep on which so much of Australia's prosperity was based. He was undoubtedly an ex­cellent sheep‑breeder but was also a man of uncertain and contradictory temper. Un­controllably quarrelsome, he fell out with three governors in succession. But in 1796, most of his extraordinary career was yet to come. Richard Atkins was the drunken fifth son of a baronet. He had run through his legacy, bought and then sold a military commission and skipped from England in order to elude his creditors. Arriving in the colony in 1791, Atkins managed, by as­siduous name‑dropping and currying of favour with the officials (especially with Governor John Hunter) to get himself ap­pointed judge advocate. His professional conduct was enough to disgust the next governor, William Bligh (of Bounty fame) who called him "the ridicule of the com­munity; sentences of death have been passed in moments of intoxication; his determination is weak, his opinion floating and infirm; his knowledge of the law is insignificant and subservient to private inclination." Joseph Saul appears as a small bit‑part player in the perpetual squabbles which characterised the early history of the colony. He had delivered letters to Atkins on several occasions and MacArthur questioned him in an attempt to prove that Atkins had been drunk on duty. Joseph Saul does not appear in any later colonial record. There are no SAULs in the 1828 census for New South Wales, only a Hannah Sault who might conceivably be one of us. Aged 32 in 1828, she had been transported in 1815 on the Mary Ann with a 14‑year sentence. She was described as Protestant. Under "occupation" it has "wife" but no husband is listed. She re­sided at York Street, Sydney and her em­ployer was James Rotton. Possibly she was in fact, if not in law, a Rotton wife, but it seems more likely she was the wife of John Salt, a member of Iron‑Gang 4, who came over on the Baring. No date of arrival or place of residence is given but Bateson's The Convict Ships 1787‑1868 shows that the Baring came over in 1815 and 1819. SALT and SAULT are included on List V in Geoff's Variants in the "Select as nec­essary" section (vol. 1 no. 5). There may be examples of crossover or error, but we have found none yet.

After all these convicts, it was quite re­freshing to learn about a SAUL who was at the right end rather than the wrong end of the emigration business. Don has drawn my attention to a George Saul who gave evidence to the Select Committee on the Passengers Act in 1851. This House of Commons enquiry was set up because of the appalling horrors of the emigrant ships sailing from Liverpool, particularly in the years during and immediately following the Irish Potato Famine. Most of them were no better than the convict ships. Some of them had actually been used for transportation. George Saul was a broker, i.e. he found places on ships for would‑be emigrants, but unlike most of them he seems to have had a conscience. In his Passage to America, Terry Coleman says:

GEORGE SAUL appeared to be an honest broker. He handled about a fifth of the emigrant trade of Liverpool. Although there were many emigrants, there was great competition for them. If a broker chartered a ship he had to fill it by a certain time or make a loss, so passengers had to be got, and the lodging‑house keepers had to be bribed to push emigrants out of the lodgings. "And our inducement must be greater than the emigrant pays for lodging. If a lodging house keeper finds it in his interest to keep a man he will do so, but if our inducement is greater than that, then he sends them away." Lodging‑house keepers were al­most always runners, i.e. people who found customers for the brokers, and he was so trammelled by them, and was so much in their power, that he dare not refuse to pay them. He and other brokers had tried refusing to pay runners for bringing passengers they could get themselves, but this attempt had collapsed when trade got short and other brokers began to pay the runners again to get preference. He had been the last to give way. He had to for fear that the runners would fall in with passengers coining to his office and take them off to a broker who did pay. Runners came along with pas­sengers who would have come anyway, and then demanded their 71/2 per cent commission. But he would destroy his trade if lie withheld what he knew was not due to them.

Of course, George may not have been as goody‑goody as he made himself appear. Rather like the international arms trade today, the emigrant trade was one which corrupted everyone who got involved with it. Anyway, his attitude to sexual morality may have caused a Victorian eyebrow or two to rise. Asked if unmarried men and women were ever berthed together, George said that if people wished to be improperly berthed, he shut his eyes to it, thinking he could not make people virtuous if they were disposed to be immoral.

We are chasing up the full report which may tell us more about George. As a broker, no doubt he encouraged his rela­tives to emigrate and ensured they had better conditions on board ship than the majority did, so there are doubtless some SAULs in the United States and Canada whose ancestors went out in more comfort than the four SAUL convicts, though judging by the condition of most 19th century emigrant ships, maybe not that much more.

Most of the SAULs in this report are re­membered for the evil that they did which lived after them, the good being interred with their bones. Rather than that perhaps they would prefer us to know nothing about them, good or bad. This must surely have been in the minds of the relatives of David Saull when they composed his epitaph. He lies in the churchyard of St Dunstan's Stepney, London and his epitaph appears in Andrew Davies's The Map of London from 1746 to the Present Day, though unfortunately without a date.

 Here lies the body

of David Saull,

Spittle‑fields weaver.

and that's all.

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