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

The SAULs of Fylde

By Trevor Saul

This article was originally published in the December 2001 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.

The Fylde is that area of rich agricultural land in Lancashire north of the river Ribble and south of the river Lune, bounded on the west by the Irish sea and in the east by Wyresdale Forest, i.e. The forest of Bowland. My ancestors dating back to 1478 lived in this area centred around Winmarleigh and Garstang.

The first mention that I have found is from the Swanimote Court of Wyresdale, 1478/80 when William Saule was fined 4d for keeping 16 goats in the forest. He pleaded guilty and begged the mercy of the Lord King. About 20 other plaintiffs were dealt with for goats, pigs, cutting peat, cutting wands, taking undergrowth etc.

The earliest name which heads the tree is John Saule, of Winmarley, who was compounded for refusing a knighthood in 1631. (‘Compound’ - To condone a liability in exchange for money). In 1622 John was witness to a tithe dispute when he was mentioned as being 55. John died on 20th July 1663, my birthday (but not 1633), holding a messuage in Winmarley, his son Christopher, aged 32, being the heir. In 1635 Christopher sold land in Winmarley for a school to be built. On the IGI there is a Jenet Sall buried 1589, a Christofer Sall buried 1593, and Jane Sall marries Oliver Charnocke 1595. In 1666 a James Sawle was evicted with his wife and 5 small children and Preston court was petitioned for a return of the house, or an allowance, so that they may “neither begg nor starve”. I am unable to tell you the result! Now, can any member tell what the onerous conditions were that would make a Lancastrian refuse a knighthood and pay a fine?!

John and his family must have been disturbed by the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587, relieved by the defeat of the Spanish Armada the following year, and thinking of the good old days when Katherine Parr lived at Garstang Castle. They would each have had their own opinions about the Pendle witches tried & hanged at Lancaster Castle in 1612.

From here I have constructed a tree, mostly from St. Helen’s church records, but with occasional infill from the IGI up to 1747. Around 1740 there is a gap in the births registers, and this gives me a missing link for the birth of Christopher who marries Elizabeth Brining 7th February 1758. Christopher’s will and death in 1805 puts his date of birth at 1731. There are three marriages from which this birth could be, but further delving is necessary. The Sauls sold ‘Mock Beggar’ Hall, formerly known as ‘Snor’ Hall, to John Patten (an M.P) about 1750. In 1879 this formed part of the Winmarliegh Estate, which is now an Agricultural College.

During this period the Sauls would have experienced the civil war and would have been affected by Cromwell defeating the Scots at Preston in 1648. The routed must have passed through Saul territory. In 1641/2 Christopher, Edmund & James signed the Protestant Returns; no Sauls were recusants. In the 1715 rebellion however, Garstang is recorded as helping the insurgents from the north, i.e. Catholics. Up to 1800 the name Christopher was used seven times but I notice that there are no Christophers on the Cumberland and Westmoreland IGI. There is one instance of a John Saul marrying a Margaret from Roeburndale, Lunesdale in 1681, but there is no evidence of any ancestry with the Lake District Sauls. In 1795 the Preston- Kendal canal opened and came through Winmarleigh. I have not come across any documentation about land rights yet but I must look this up. The canal would have made a great difference to these people with lower prices for coal, a cheaper means of selling produce and a passenger service along the canal.

We now come to better documented lines. John Slaughter obtained the marriage licence for the Christopher marrying Elizabeth Brining 1758 mentioned above and this catalysed my early research. This couple had 12 children, but only the first born, John, survived to marry. One daughter reached 30 with no news of a marriage, the others died before reaching 20. I did expect to find another Christopher with whom to share these children but nothing yet; their birth dates are all more than ten months apart.

Elizabeth died in 1806, ‘being poorly in health but of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, for the settling of my temporal concerns’. The Will of 6th Feb 1806 leaves money (£996) in trust ‘for the children of my late son John, Christopher, William & Robert’ until they were 21. Elizabeth also left the interest on some money to her sister and in the event of the benefactors dying, other arrangements were made. All this precluded the widow of John, Alice (nee Cooper) mother of her grand children from benefiting. Alice, after 8 years, married a John Clifton, Husbandman, Winmarliegh. So! I would love to be able to tell Sole Society members what ‘went on’, particularly, whether Alice brought these boys up. Perhaps she was well off in her own right?

On 18th April 1826 the eldest of these boys, Christopher, returned from Ulverston to marry Mary Swindlehurst of Scorton, the village where he had been born. John Slaughter has recently found in a directory that a Christopher Saul was trading as a seedsman, grocer and tea dealer in Market Street, Ulverston in 1829.

The second boy, William, is my gt. gt. Grandfather. On l9th March 1822 at St Helen’s, Garstang, William (farmer) married Elizabeth Clarkson of Thornton. Their first child was John, c1823 at Cabus, Garstang. This John started his own tree in Preston for at least two generations. The 2nd child, Isabella died in 1827 at Duke St. Preston. The 3rd Isabella c1829 b1834 at Paradise St. just around the corner from Duke St. This was cotton industry ‘two up, two down’ housing, very different to what Snor Hall would have been. The 1841 census shows Elizabeth to be a weaver and William a labourer, thus the change from agriculture to cotton was made. The houses were near to Horrock’s mill and I have checked their sick fund records but no Sauls claimed.

We were in cotton for 3 generations, my grandfather Robert being weaving manager at Spa Mill up to 1933. He put his sons to work in the newly opened County Offices when the Lancs administration came from Lancaster to Preston. I think he would do this to avoid the cyclic nature of the mill trade. The Sauls wouldn’t be in mills today as they’ve all closed, but Spa mill remains as enterprise workshops, and the managers’ house is still there. Spa Mill ceased weaving in 1940 and was taken by Dick Kerr Electric where Lancaster bombers were built during WW2.

The third of the grandsons of Christopher & Elizabeth, Robert, came down to Preston and provides the most interesting tree. He farmed land on what is now Moor Park, but then went working for a gardener of repute, John Wise, on land which is now Miller Park. In 1829 he married John Wise’s daughter, Jane, at St. Johns, Preston Parish Church. There is record of an earlier John Wise of Lytham marrying a Brining so I think that there could be a Saul – Brining - Wise friendship.

Robert, around 1830, started his own nursery. The son James, cl834, continued with the nursery, and at the age of 37 married Margeret Warbrick. Margaret was the daughter of Jane nee Hornby whose father was Squire Hornby of St Michaels on Wyre, brother of Earl Derby (The Stanley Family). Jane, when home from school in France, aged l8, eloped with John Warbrick, a family groom. She gave up a ‘county’ life but made a living in a small shop in Bow Lane, Preston with her brothers giving alms. The next in line was Robert who married Ellen Threlfall. The nurseries were now well established and well known. Stanley Saul continued the good work and is the man I knew at the nursery during the 1930s & 40s. By one of life’s co-incidences my father, one of the sons put to work in the county offices, moved to the same street where the nurseries were located. With the passing of five generations we didn’t know of the relationship. I spent some of my childhood trespassing in Saul’s Nurseries but not causing any damage.

Just before joining the Sole Society I circulated a letter to all the Sauls in the Preston directory. I got one answer from Norman Saul of the nursery family. He has lived as a vicar but is now retired except for holiday cover and special occasions. The nurseries closed in 1970 and his parents went to live in the Isle of Man. We have met a few times and had meals together and compared the paths of our respective lines. I wonder if the society can help me find any issue from Christopher who traded as seedsman in Ulverston in 1829? It would be good if the descendents of the three Saul brothers from just before 1800 could get together

Robert Saul of Saul’s Nurseries, Preston, Circa 1930   Robert Saul, Weaving Manager, Spa Mill, Preston

On the left is Robert Saul of Saul’s Nurseries, Preston, Circa 1930. On the right is Robert Saul, Weaving Manager, Spa Mill, Preston, Grandfather of our member Trevor Saul.