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The Saul Ostles

Jonathan Ostle (1700-1740) was the second son of Joseph and Jane Ostle of Newtown , he married Jane Saul. The Sauls were a relatively well-to-do family and had been among the first local families to join the Quakers. Braithwaite mentions them in his "Beginnings of Quakerism". When George Fox visited the area in 1657 he found a large meeting "as the result of pioneer work by Robert Saul of Silloth and Simon Osmotherley who had already separated themselves from the national worship before the coming of Friends and kept meetings in their houses, being men zealous in their way and of those called Roundheads". However, Jane's parents, Robert and Ruth Saul, do not seem to have been members of the Quaker meeting at this time. On may 26th, 1733 a marriage bond was drawn up:-

Jonathan Ostel of Newton parish of Holm Cultram, Yeoman and Jane Saul of Hartlaw parish of Holm Cultram, above 21 spinster. Witnessed William Osburn of Cowgate, Yeoman to take place at Wigton or Holm Cultram.


Wigton Parish Church

The wedding took place in the Parish Church at Wigton, a good ten miles (16Km) away from Newtown on May 28th. Jane was three months pregnant at the time. The match cannot have been approved by Jonathan's family and shortly after the event he was disowned by the Friends' meeting for having "married a young woman in the Church of England". The record of this event in the Monthly Meeting Minute Book was signed by six of the members, the first signature being that of Jonathan's own father, Joseph. The births of all four of Jonathan and Jane's children are recorded in the Quaker records so, at some point, there may have been a reconciliation. Perhaps this occurred as early as the Christmas following the wedding, when Joseph was born, and Jonathan did not break the family tradition of always naming the first son after his grandfather. Jonathan and Jane seem to have occupied a farm in Newtown for most of their lives; probably next-door-but-one to the farm of Jonathan's brother, Thomas. Jonathan died when he was only forty. After his death, Jane must have remarried; the will of her brother, Robert, made in 1775 refers to her as Jane Holliday.


Newtown, today

Jonathan’s eldest son, Joseph (1733-1808), married Rachel Wilkinson (1732-1809) in 1755 at Beckfoot Meeting. They had nine children, many of whom moved to the Maryport area. Joseph was involved in the enclosure of some land on the site of an old Roman Camp near Beckfoot. Previously this land had been cultivated on the 'rig and ranes' system. This split the area into forty-three shares, these were divided by narrow green strips (ranes), between which the land was cultivated by five different farmers who held the land in common. In June 1758, Joseph seems to have become involved in a dispute between John Saul and the four other farmers. Isaac Fletcher, a prominent Quaker lawyer from Underwood, about five miles south of Cockermouth, was called in. Fletcher 'examined sundry evidences and made and signed arbitration bonds' then, on August 24, he met Nicholas Martindale, the Sauls' lawyer, at The Globe in Cockermouth to sign an agreement. On September 11, again at Cockermouth, Fletcher 'read and delivered the awards to Holm's people. Received in full as by the other side.' He records sending Joseph a bill for £3.10s.6d.


The farmers discuss the enclosure plans
(Sketch by David Elford)

Finally, in 1767, the farmers got together and agreed to divide the land in a logical manner. The agreement was signed by Joseph, John Barn, Isaac Todd and his wife Sarah, Thomas Atkinson and John Saul to 'divide the land by the second of February, next following' and, by that time, the present field boundaries were fixed. These 'Articles for the Division of Newtown Castle' were signed on February 14, 1767 and were witnessed by Joseph's second cousin, John Ostle of Newtown, his brother-in-law, Jeremiah Barwise and Daniel Waite.


The fields after enclosure.


Joseph’s younger brother, Jonathan (1735-1814), married Mary Matthewman in 1758 at Holm Cultram Church. Mary's family is of particular interest. She was the daughter of John Matthewman and Tamar Glaister of Seaville. The Glaisters were a sea-faring family from Allonby and had other connections to the Ostles and Beebys. The Matthewman family had been living around the area since the mid 1600s. William and Eleanor lived at Bromfield but were buried at Holm Cultram. William died in 1725, a note on his burial record describes him as 'a householder and a great money man'. His wife died two years later and also received a special note in the register as 'a rich widow of Bromfield parish'. John's mother was a Goldsmith, the only one of that name in three hundred years of the Holm Cultram Register, so obviously not a local girl. It is tempting to speculate as to whether the family may have been of Jewish origin. Possibly they acted as bankers to the land-owning Barwise family who lived at Langrigg Hall near Bromfield.Jonathan's sister, Ruth, married a member of the Barwise family. Perhaps he met Mary when his sister took him over to visit her new relations at the big house! By the 1851 census, the Matthewmans have vanished from the area. There are families of the name living in Canada who may be connected, and several of Jonathan and Mary's Ostle descendants settled in New Brunswick but there is, as yet, no evidence that they crossed the Atlantic together.

The Ostles, in both England and Canada, continued to use Matthewman as a Christian name for over a century after Jonathan and Mary's marriage.

The last Ostle of that name is buried here, at Newton Arlosh Church.

Following the family tradition set by his father, Jonathan was disowned by the Quaker meeting for marrying in the Church of England. The minute recording this is dated November 10th 1758 and gives Jonathan's home as Maryport. In May, 1765 Jonathan wrote to the meeting:

Dear Friends,
Whereas I was born of parents professing with you and, though not adhering to the dictates of truth, deviated from those Just Rules established amongst you by marrying with a priest which occurred your displeasure and brought myself under your notice so as to deny me which have often, when seriously considered, been a cause of sorrow and mourning. Therefore for the future hopes of my miss steps may be pardoned and through the assistance of Divine Providence shall endeavour to keep a conscience void of offence towards God and Man.
Jonathan Ostle.

Later in life, Jonathan became a grocer in Maryport and died at the grand old age of seventy-nineRuth (1737-1820) married Jeremiah Barwise of The Nook by licence on January 29th, 1761 in Holm Cultram Church. Jeremiah was the son of John and Jane Barwise of Lowsay. His father had made the copyhold of The Nook over to Jeremiah. The Barwises were gentry. Several members of the family had acted as officers in the Parliamentary Army during the English Civil War. Despite Jeremiah's background and relative wealth, the match does not seem to have been well received by the Ostles and the Friends at Beckfoot. Jeremiah was Church of England.


The Barwise family were important enough to
hold their own coat of arms

On February 19th, only a fortnight after the wedding, the following entry was made in the Monthly Meeting minutes:-

Ruth Barwise of Nook has of late married with a man of another profession with a priest after the way and manner of the Church of England . . . although she was admonished, she slighted counsel and would not be reclaimed. Therefore we have no unity with the aforesaid Ruth Barwise.
Signed John Beeby, clerk to Monthly Meeting.
This entry is followed by a copy of a letter which Ruth had sent to the meeting:
Dear Friends
These lines may let you know that I am sorry I should give occasion to Friends in my marrying with a priest contrary to the Rules of Friends which has brought great uneassyness to my mind.
I desire friends would pass by mine offence and grant me freedom again in the society.
I remain your well-wisher,
Ruth Barwise.

Perhaps Ruth went back to the Quaker meeting sometimes but her children were baptised at the Parish Church. Relations with her family must have been good as she and Jeremiah called their first son Ostell Barwise. He continued to farm The Nook and became a churchwarden at Holm Cultram. He died, at the age of 53, in 1813. The Barwise family continued to use Ostle as a Christian name for at least four more generations.

Thomas Sim Barwise was a great grandson of Jerimiah and Ruth. He married Margaret Melville who was 'in service' at one of the big houses in Maryport. Their first three children were born in Maryport but, in 1884, they set sail for America where their remaining five children were born. After a brief stop in Indiana, they settled in Xenia, Ohio where Thomas worked as a locomotive mechanic.


Thomas and Margaret Barwise and their family in America

Some of the children of Ruth’s two brothers, Joseph and Jonathan, became prominent businessmen and mariners in Maryport, while others set sail across the Atlantic. Their stories are told in ‘Some Maryport Ostles’ and ‘The Ostles of New Brunswick Ostles'

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