AN ALBUM OF OLD PHOTOS
By Rosemary Bailey
This article was originally published in the December 2012 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
I have an album of old photos, none of which are named. I remember when they were found in the mid 1970s; I was staying at my grandmaís in Rounds Green, Staffordshire in the house that had been the family home for about 60 years. Someone, my mum I think, found the album and I remember it being discussed that it belonged to the Saul family although no one knew who anyone in the photos were.
My Sauls are quite distant; my grandfatherís mother was a Saul before she married. Her parents, Thomas Saul and Susana Bassford, had nine children between 1852 and 1869 of whom only three married.
In fact, although none of the twenty or so photos from the Victorian era are named there is one I can perhaps identify. Thomas and Susana Saulís youngest daughter, Clara Maria, married Frederick Wilks in 1895. They moved to Shrewsbury, where their children were registered in the Atcham registration district which is next to Shrewsbury. One of the photos of a couple, shown above, was taken by the photographer James Laing of Shrewsbury, so Iíve always thought that it is Clara and Frederick Wilks. But itís probably not that simple, somebody out there is probably going to contact me and tell me the picture shows clothes from the wrong era to be Clara!
Frederick & Clara (nee Saul) Wilks?
There is also a photo of an old couple which doesnít look to be studio posed but rather taken informally outside a house. The old gentleman has a rug slipping from his knees and the lady is clutching a pair of glasses. Obviously a lot of studio photos of the time were taken against a backdrop of Ďoutsideí, but as you will see below, this one looks genuinely to be outside and there is no photographerís name on the photo. Itís very different from all the other photos in the album.
Thomas Saul was 70 when he died in 1898, his wife Susana would have been a similar age. Could it be them? Did working class folk own cameras in the late 1890s? Susana didnít die till the flu epidemic of 1918-1919 could it be her and an elderly male relative, perhaps her half brother Stephen? Perhaps by then it would have been more likely that ordinary people owned cameras. Of course Iíll never know who this couple were, but the photo was in an album of photos that had belonged to the Saul family so Iíd like to presume they are Sauls!