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


By Peter Saul

This article was originally published in the December 2012 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society

My family has a long history of being in the police force, including my father Henry Saul (1919-1986), his grandfather Joseph Saul (1863-1894) and great-uncles John Saul and Daniel Saul. I knew from my father that when he joined Bacup (Lancashire) Borough Police in 1947 that the desk sergeant gave him the number five, which he said had belonged to his ‘uncle’ (actually great-uncle). My father didn’t know who he meant, as he had had no contact with earlier generations of his family since his father, John Thomas Saul, (1891-1924) son of Joseph above, died relatively young, when my father was only four. Some years ago, I traced the family back through these generations, but knew little about them, and had no photographs.

Recently, I found the web site,, which has a lot of local police history including a very clear photograph of the Bacup Borough Police in 1889, and a less clear one in 1894. However, this last one had names to the individuals, although these not legible on the website. I am very grateful to Wendy Lord of Bacup Times for providing a higher resolution version of the second photo (1894), which showed Sergeant Saul, number three, but with no first name or initial, to the lower left of the central figure. The same individual, also numbered three, is on the front row, extreme right, of the 1889 photo. But with no initial there was no way of knowing if it was my great-grandfather, Joseph or one of his brothers.

Bacup Borough Police, 1894. Joseph Saul is third man in on the third row down. Image with kind permission of Wendy Lord of

Bacup Borough Police, 1894. Joseph Saul is third man in on the third row down. Image with kind permission of Wendy Lord of


Bacup Police, 1889. Image with kind permission of Wendy Lord,


I knew from a copy of the Bacup Borough Police Souvenir 1887-1947 that there were three Sauls in the force, Joseph Saul, John Saul and my father Henry Saul. But the list did not have dates of service. I also knew that Joseph Saul died of enteric fever (typhoid) on 16th June 1894. Since there was just one Saul in both photos, it could have been Joseph or John.

I knew that the third brother, Daniel, went to work for the Liverpool Police. I searched their website,, and found Daniel and a John Saul, who in 1899 was awarded a Liverpool Humane Society Bronze Medal for attempting to stop a runaway horse and cart (see page 24 for citation). This was definitely the correct John Saul as from the 1901 and 1911 census records he was born in the right place at the right time. On the 1891 census both brothers were living at the same address in West Derby, with their sister Annie M, John’s wife Clara and daughter Annie H. 

In confirmation, John Saul in Liverpool was a constable not sergeant. In the 1889 photo above, the arms are not shown to sufficient extent to determine if he has Sergeant’s stripes, but the two Sergeants are on the front row.  It is reasonable to assume that John was a constable in 1889, and had left Bacup before 1891. The second photo must have been before 16th June 1894, so that Sergeant Saul, in the two photos, was my great-grandfather.

Furthermore, the number five had been re–issued before 1899, since its new user, John Herbert Jackson, left the force in 1899.

Joseph had a Police Funeral in Bury, accompanied to the Bacup Borough Boundary by most of the figures seen in the second photo, with several continuing to Bury to act as pall bearers. His widow, Mary, subsequently married a Bury Police Sergeant, Henry Morley. In 1911 they were living in Middleton, near Oldham, with my grandfather John Thomas Saul, described as step-son of the head of household, and his three step brothers and three step sisters.

Joseph Saul. Image with kind permission of Wendy Lord,

Joseph Saul. Image with kind permission of Wendy Lord,

Joseph’s father John Saul was on the 1911 census, a Labourer on Roads for the Rural District Council in Witherslack, where he had lived all his life. He was 80 years old at the time! He lived to be 88, and died in 1918, having survived his son Joseph by 24 years.