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Washington Handley Soul (1845–1927)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

Washington Handley Soul is a minor entry in this article

Caleb Soul (1817-1894), druggist and chemist, was born in London on 13 January 1817, son of Eli Soul, commodore in the East India Co., and his wife Elizabeth, née Hodges. After a grammar school education he learned the wholesale drug trade and for about eighteen years worked in a drug manufacturing company which, among other things, supplied preparations to the British forces during the Crimean war. In 1840 in London he had married Jane Elizabeth Peters; she and their infant daughter died in 1843 and next year he married Mary Anne Handley at Islington, London.

About 1863 Soul came to New South Wales and managed a store at Morpeth before moving to Sydney where he became a country representative for the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. and Tucker & Co. He and his only son Washington Handley, born in London on 6 November 1845, who had been in the British mercantile marine and had arrived in the colony in 1863, also acted as mining brokers for a time. In 1872 they opened a drug store and dispensary in Pitt Street, Sydney, styled Washington H. Soul & Co.; for a time George W. Bull was a partner. Business flourished and operations were gradually extended on the manufacturing side. In 1876 Washington petitioned parliament to amend the sale and use of poisons bill. In 1887, in evidence to the select committee on the Pharmaceutical Society of New South Wales incorporation bill, he protested against the exclusiveness of the society and the Pharmacy Board which, without reason, had refused them leave to sell poisons and drugs. By 1888 they had about thirty employees and their handsome shop, featuring an American ice-fountain that dispensed ingeniously concocted and palatable drinks, had become a fashionable social resort. In sixteen years of operations Caleb claimed to have saved the public £120,000, the difference between prices formerly charged and their much cheaper prices.

Soul was interested in certain social issues: he had promoted building societies in the Morpeth and Maitland districts and held radical views on taxation. In 1886 he gave detailed advice to the premier, (Sir) P. A. Jennings, about duties on certain chemicals and encouraged his efforts to introduce direct taxation to restore the colony's finances. He died of acute bronchial catarrh at his residence, Ardleigh, Point Piper Road, Sydney, on 31 August 1894 and was buried in the Congregational section of South Head cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at £40,600.

Washington carried on the business and it continued to expand. It amalgamated with Pattinson & Co. and became a public company on 21 January 1903 as Washington H. Soul, Pattinson & Co.; he retired from active business after 1903 and by 1940 the firm had forty-two stores in Sydney and Newcastle and in 1974 it was one of the first hundred companies in Australia. Like his father, he was a prominent Freemason: a noted benefactor to the craft, he donated the temple in Beresford Road, Strathfield, that bears his name. He had married Charlotte Louisa Bird (d.1923) in Sydney in 1873; survived by her and three daughters, he died of heart disease at his residence, Agincourt, Albert Road, Strathfield, on 13 December 1927 and was buried in the Congregational section of South Head cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at £76,000.

Select Bibliography

  • W. F. Morrison, The Aldine Centennial History of New South Wales, vol 2 (Syd, 1888)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1875-76, 1, 429, 441, 6, 829, 1887-88, 2, 1067
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Sept 1894, 14 Dec 1927.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Soul, Washington Handley (1845–1927)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 14 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (Melbourne University Press), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

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