Before getting to today’s topics, I have a couple of brief announcements. First, I’m happy to say that an article I wrote titled, “Thomas Casbon, James Scruby, and the Meldreth-Wayne County, Ohio Connection” has been published on the Meldreth History website. You can read the article here. Much of the information in this article has been presented in earlier blog posts, but the emphasis in the article is different, and there is some new information as well. I hope you will take a look.
Also, a previous article, “‛The Old Cow Got Round It’,” was also selected as the current Editor’s Choice on the Meldreth History site. The article in the website is nearly identical to an earlier blog post.
Finally, the blog will be on vacation for a while, as I will be doing a bit of traveling.
Now to today’s post. Joseph Casbon was the third son of Isaac (~1773–1825) and Susanna (Howes, ~1776–1840) Casbon. I have written previously about Joseph and his wife Lydia (Burgess). At that time, I only had three records or documents that mentioned Joseph by name. The first was a handwritten Casbon family history from about 1890 that mentioned Joseph as the son of Isaac (and gave the incorrect name for his mother) and the brother of Thomas, Williams and James.
“Isaac Casbon Married Jayne Miller of Meldreth,
Near Royston Cambridge shire Englan both were raised and born in this place
There were born to them Thomas William Joseph, one dead he left no heirs James”
(Click on image to enlarge)
The other two records were Joseph’s marriage and burial records. There is no record of his birth or baptism, so we could only estimate his birth year as 1810 or 1811 based on the age (36) given when he was buried in 1847. Now we have one more record to add to Joseph’s file: a copy of his civil death registration, which I recently ordered from the England and Wales General Register Office.
The most important new details in this record are the exact date and location of death, his age, occupation, and cause of death. We can see that he died on March 3, 1847 in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. Melbourn is the village just east of Meldreth, where Joseph was probably born and raised. His stated age of 35 would give him a birth date sometime between March 4, 1811 and March 3, 1812. Since his burial record listed his age as 36, we need to extend the beginning of this range to 1810. His occupation was “Labourer.” Given his family background, it would have been unlikely to be anything else.
Two conditions are listed under Cause of Death: “Catarrh 4 months” and “Pulmonary Consumption” (the word under this is “Certified,” which probably means a doctor certified his death). Neither of these terms are commonly used today. Catarrh in its simplest sense means “a discharge from a mucus membrane.” In America, the term was generally restricted to inflammation of the membranes of the air passages. In England, catarrh referred more specifically to inflammation of the trachea and bronchi (what we would call bronchitis). An 1856 medical dictionary has this to say of the English version:
It is commonly an affection of but little consequence, but apt to relapse and become chronic. It is characterized by cough, thirst, lassitude, fever, watery eyes, with increased secretion of mucus from the air-passages. … Sometimes, the inflammation of the bronchial tubes is so great as to prove fatal.
Consumption, in the generic sense, meant “progressive emaciation or wasting away,” but the term was most often applied to pulmonary tuberculosis, as in Joseph’s case. In the early 19th century, the cause of tuberculosis was unknown, and many believed it to be hereditary or caused by constitutional weakness. It wasn’t until 1865 that tuberculosis was determined to be infectious, and not until 1882 that the causative bacillus was identified. There were no effective treatments until the twentieth century.
To summarize the cause of death for Joseph, he had pulmonary tuberculosis, a chronic wasting infection. In his final months, he developed catarrh; probably an accelerated phase of his underlying condition, with increased cough and mucus production.
In my earlier post about Joseph and his family, I mentioned that five of the six family members died within a five-year period, and speculated that tuberculosis was the likely cause. This is certainly supported by Joseph’s death record. It’s likely that the infection was spread among the family members, all living in close quarters.
I was curious about the informant for the facts of the death record, a woman named Sarah Worland. She was most likely Sarah Worland, born about 1788 in Meldreth, who lived within one or two houses of Lydia (and Joseph?) Casbon.
I have never been able to find Joseph in the 1841 census, the first census to list names of household members. I have no idea why he doesn’t appear in the census, but clearly he was living in Melbourn when he died in 1847.
 Handwritten Casbon family history, ca. 1888–92, photocopy, whereabouts of original unknown, private collection of Jon Casbon.
 Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), Register of Burials 1813-75, p. 47, no. 373, Joseph Casbon, 7 Mar 1847; imaged as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : accessed 28 April 2017), image 466 of 699; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 10.
 Cambridgeshire, England, Royston and Buntingford district, Melbourn sub-district, death registration, 1847, no. 92, Joseph Casbon (indexed as Caston, age 35), 3 Mar, Melbourn; image copy (downloaded as pdf file), General Registration Office, Southport, vol. 6/491.
 Robley Dunkinson, Medical Lexicon: a Dictionary of Medical Science; Containing a Concise Explanation of the Various Subjects and Terms of Physiology, Pathology, Hygiene, Therapeutics, Pharmacology, Obstetrics, Medical Jurisprudence, &c, 13th ed. rev. (Philadelphia: Blanchard and Lea, 1856), p. 179, “Catarrh’”; online image, Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009703960 : accessed 29 May 2018).
 Ibid, p. 233, “Consumption.”
 John Frith, “History of Tuberculosis. Part 1 – Phthisis, Consumption and the White Plague,” Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health, vol. 22, no. 2, online edition (http://jmvh.org/article/history-of-tuberculosis-part-1-phthisis-consumption-and-the-white-plague/ : accessed 29 May 2018).
 Jon Casbon, “Joseph and Lydia (Burgess) Casbon,” 2 Mar 2017, Our Casbon Journey (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/joseph-and-lydia-burgess-casbon/ : accessed 29 May 2018).