SOME TREASURED POSSESSIONS
By Carol Saul
This article was published in the August 2014 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
My husband never knew his grandfather. And my father-in-law didn’t know his father. That’s because Andrew Saul, born on 6th July 1887 at King’s Head Court, Keswick, died in Blackpool on 2nd November 1919 just 10 days after his twin sons, William Dykes Saul [Bill] and Andrew Derwent Saul [Derry] were born and his daughter Elizabeth Hope Saul [Betty] was aged 2. In fact, I do not know what Andrew knew or saw of his twin sons as he died of kidney failure and was in a coma shortly after their birth. He had been discharged from the army on 11 February 1919, no longer fit for service.
Andrew married Mary Jane Jenkinson, an orphan from Liverpool, in Keswick on 18th May 1916. This is shortly after the Easter Rising and on the certificate Andrew gave his occupation as Soldier and his place of residence as The Curragh. [Ed: soldiers from an army barracks at The Curragh were used to suppress the Easter Rising] They lived in Blackpool until Andrew’s death whereupon Mary returned to Portinscale, Keswick, with the 3 children. She knew nothing of her own family, or even her correct date of birth, and never spoke of Andrew’s life so I had very little to start with. Betty sent me copies of three letters she had received from Andrew’s younger sister, Lizzie May Saul [May] when she wrote asking for information about Andrew and Mary around 1973.
Andrew’s parents were William Saul, a stonemason, and Elizabeth Shearman formerly Cartmell, both of whom were widowed when they married at Cockermouth Register Office on 20th December 1885. Elizabeth’s father was Greenip Cartmell and he was Innkeeper at the King’s Head in Keswick when Andrew and Mary married in 1916. Andrew’s father William had died.
William and Elizabeth moved to Manchester some time between Andrew’s birth in 1887 and the 1891 census. William died there on 30 May 1896 and Elizabeth died on 26 March 1899 having moved to Oldham. Andrew was 11 when he was noted as the informant and in attendance at the death on his mother’s death certificate. She appears to have died in childbirth but there is no sign of the father of the child [John Saul] who went to the Workhouse at 2 weeks old and died there aged 2, the birth itself not having been registered. And wouldn’t you know it – the Workhouse records for relatives/admitters are missing for the crucial year!
At this point Andrew and his sister May moved back to Keswick where they were raised by an older cousin, Lavinia Cartmel (daughter of their mother Elizabeth’s brother John) who was married to a tailor rejoicing in the name of Dunglinson Dykes Tyson. In 1901 Andrew and May are living with these cousins as ‘adopted orphans’ and Andrew is a 13 year old apprentice tailor.
By 1911 Andrew was a 23 year old [ladies’] tailor boarding in Blackpool. His sister May said he moved there when he had finished his apprenticeship. In one of May’s letters she tells of Andrew having made her a suit in which she was photographed by a local newspaper one Easter walking along Blackpool promenade – something else to look for.
Andrew’s daughter Betty ‘rescued’ some postcards and photographs when her mother was going to throw them out and the dates and places on some of these postcards between 1905 and 1918 have enabled me to fill in a little of Andrew’s movements. Other than that I have only his WW1 papers which says he enlisted in the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry in 1915 and transferred to the South Lancashire Regiment in 1916. However, a postcard of Ramsey Camp on the Isle of Man in 1908 leads me to believe he was in the Territorial Army. Later there is an undated photograph of Andrew in uniform on horseback.
At some point I would like to read the relevant War Diaries to discover more of Andrew’s life at this time; from the dates on his record he appears to have been in ‘famous’ places shortly after well-known battles.
A postcard to his fiancée Mary from The Curragh dated 29 April 1916 (not shown here) says:
Still in barracks, & quite safe.
Can’t say much as it would be censored.
I will write later. Afraid we will have to postpone.
Don’t take any action yet. Don’t worry.
All’s well. Love. etc!”
I can’t help thinking this may be referring to their forthcoming marriage and the possibility of having to postpone it.
I am unsure of what battles Andrew was involved in during the War but he was in France from December 1916 (just after the Somme) until August 1917 then was sent to Mesopotamia until January 1919.
Having so little information about Andrew made the knowledge of some postcards (reproduced here) which were hand-drawn by Andrew and sent to his wife Mary and his daughter Betty during WW1, very precious. They are all marked India where he was hospitalised (during his time in Mesopotamia) arriving in Bombay on the Hospital Ship Sicilia on 10 September 1918. One mentions “Tanooma Con: Depot Mesopotamia" on the back.
Reverse side reads: Dearest Betty, I suppose you will be helping mother to clean before I get home. Be a good girl & Dady [sic] will soon be home for good. Yours aff. Father”
Reverse side reads: I don’t think it will be quite to bad as this. Cheers! Just had 2 letters and 3 newspapers with writing paper. Shall answer later. Best love etc. Andrew
The one above has written on the back: Base Band is outside playing "God send you back to me" Just as I am making this ready for the post. Love Andrew"
Reverse side reads: Though so far away we never feel lonely. Some of our friends come uninvited. We would rather they stayed away. Love etc. Andrew