How Valparaiso Got Its Name

This will be a short post, because I am only writing it to inform my readers of a post in a different blog. Steve Shook’s excellent blog, Porter County’s Past: An Amateur Historian’s Perspective, features an article this week, titled “Fact or Folklore? The Naming of Valparaiso.” In this post he addresses a popular myth about how the Porter County seat got its name, and gives a well-documented explanation of the true story.

In the course of the discussion he mentions the Lewis Publishing Company, publisher of the 1912 History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. It turns out that the Lewis Publishing Company has a peripheral connection to Our Casbon Journey. The company was founded in Chicago by Benjamin Franklin Lewis and his brother Samuel Thompson Lewis. Their father was a physician named L’Mander Lewis, who settled in Porter County in 1849.[1]

LMander Lewis
Portrait of L’Mander Lewis, from L.B. Hill, Benjamin Franklin Lewis, 1842-1928 : the man and his business
(Chicago : Lewis Publishing Company, 1936). (Click on image to enlarge)

It turns out that L’Mander Lewis is my third great grandfather! His granddaughter, Florence Lewis, was the mother in law of my grandfather, Leslie Christy Casbon.

[1] History of Porter County, Indiana : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people and its principal interests (Chicago : Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), vol. 2, p. 409; online image, Hathi Trust Digital Library ( : accessed 22 February 2017).

James Casbon in the 1880 U.S. Census, Porter Township, Porter County, Indiana

James Casbon (abt. 1813—1884) was the subject of an earlier post. He is the common ancestor to many Casbon descendants, both in the United States and United Kingdom. Because of his relatively short time in America, there are relatively few records about his life here. He only appears in one U.S. Census, that of 1880, since he arrived to the U.S. in late 1870 (after the census was completed) and died in 1884.

1880 census porter twp 545C
Page from 1880 U.S. Census, Porter Township, Porter County, Indiana. Source: 1880 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, population schedule, enumeration district 144, p. 545 (stamped), p. 19C (penned), dwelling 187, family 191, James Casbon; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 December 2015), Indiana > Porter > Porter > image 19 of 20; citing NARA microfilm publication T9; FHL microfilm 1,254,305.
(Click on image to enlarge)

What can we learn from this record? First it tells us that James was living in Porter township, one of thirteen townships in Porter County.

Porter county map 1876
1876 Map of Porter County showing townships. Porter township is outlined in red. Source: A.G. Hardesty, Illustrated historical atlas of Porter County, Indiana, Valparaiso, Ind.: A.G. Hardesty, 1876, p. 22; online images, Library of Congress ( : accessed 2 March 2016). (Click on image to enlarge)

The census does not tell us exactly where in the township James was living. The other names on the census page show us who his neighbors were, but not where they were located. His brother Thomas Casbon, nephew Charles Casbon, and niece Mary Ann (Casbon) Priest were also living in Porter township, but apparently not in the same general area, based on their being several pages distant in the census record.

The members of James’ family include his wife Mary, daughter Margaret, son Amos, and daughter Alice. His wife was the former Mary Payne, whom he married January, 1876, in Porter County.[1] I’ve speculated that she might be the same Mary Payne who emigrated from England in 1856 with Mary Casbon (see “From England to Indiana, Part 8” [link]). If so, she would have been from James’ home town of Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, the niece of James’ sister in law, Emma (Scruby) Casbon. In favor of this possibility is the fact that Mary’s birthplace (and that of her parents) is recorded as England on the census form. Against it is her recorded age of 53, which would give her a birth year of about 1827. The Mary Payne from Meldreth was born about 1833, based on her ages recorded in the 1841 and 1851 England censuses.[2],[3] Ages in census records are notoriously inaccurate, so this discrepancy is not a big concern. Not only that, but Mary’s age in the 1900 U.S. census is listed as 68, with her month & year of birth listed as October 1832.[4] This jives very well with the data for Mary Payne of Meldreth.

James’ daughter Margaret is recorded as 16 years old. This would give her a birth year of about 1864. This matches her estimated age from the passenger list when she arrived in America in 1870.[5] Her place of birth is incorrectly recorded as Indiana. I haven’t been able to locate birth or baptismal records for Margaret in England. Margaret’s fate is a bit of a mystery: a family story suggests that she became a “mail-order bride” and went to Seattle, Washington.

Son Amos was 10 years old, also born in England. His birthplace is also incorrectly recorded. Of Amos I will have much to say in future posts. Likewise with daughter Alice, who was born in Porter County in 1871.[6]

Note James’ occupation of “Farm Laborer.” This indicates he did not own or farm his own land. As I mentioned in the earlier post about James, every indication is that he was a poor hard-working man. The newspaper articles describing his death indicate he was working as a ditch digger at the time.

Finally, note the marks on the census form under the column “Cannot write.” This is marked for both James and Mary (but not marked for “Cannot read”). This is a reminder of their humble backgrounds and the lack of educational opportunities for people in their class when they were growing up in England.

[1] Porter County, Indiana Marriage Records, vol. 4: 348, James Casbon–Mary Payne, 15 Jan 1876; image, “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 October 2015); citing Porter County; FHL microfilm 1,686,156.
[2] “1841 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast ( : accessed 14 August 2016), entry for Mary Pain (age 8), Chiswic End, Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, England; citing The National Archives, PRO HO 107, piece 63, folio 10, p. 15.
[3] “1851 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast ( : accessed 24 July 2016), entry for Mary Payne (age 18), M in Meldreth, Melbourn, Hertfordshire, England; citing The National Archives, PRO HO 107, piece 1708, folio 209, p. 34.
[4] 1900 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, population schedule, enumeration district 79, p. 13B, dwelling 315, family 316, Mary Casben; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 July 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T623; FHL microfilm 1,240,398.
[5] “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,”images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 November 2016), manifest, Great Western, 27 Dec 1870, n.p., line 29, Margret Custon, age 6, > image 107 of 341; citing NARA microfilm publication M237.
[6] “Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952”, database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 21 February 2017), Alice Edwards Hicks, 15 Mar 1950; citing Three Oaks, Berrien, Michigan, United States, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing; FHL microfilm 1,973,189.

Stuck on John

Genealogists use the term brick wall to describe a situation where they cannot find the information needed to trace an ancestor. That’s where I’m at with John, the father of Thomas Casbon (1843—1799) of Meldreth. John is my sixth great grandfather.

John 4 gen chart
Summary diagram, descendants of John Casbon (Click on image to enlarge)

I’ve used charts like this before to show the relationships of people I’ve discussed. You’ll notice that I don’t have birth or death information for John on the far left. That’s the brick wall I’m talking about. I don’t know when or where John was born, and I’m not sure when he died.

To demonstrate how I’ve tried to solve the problem, I’ll start with the known and work back to the unknown. Here’s what I know about John. The Meldreth parish registers have baptismal records for five children born to John and his wife Ann:

“Thomas Son of John & Ann Casbel was Baptiz’d Dec.r ye 11th” [1743][1]
“James Son of John & Anne Casbell was baptized Jan.9th” [1747][2]
“Nov: 6. James Son of John & Anne Casbull” [1748][3]
“M[ar]ch ye Mary Daughter of John & Ann Casball” [1751][4]
“Sept.23 … Anna daug.r of John & Ann Casburn” [1754][5]

The first son named James must have died in infancy, since the next son was given the same name. Thomas was the subject of an earlier post. His descendants have been the subjects of many posts.

The next step in is to find a marriage record between John Casb(*) and Ann (? surname) within a few years preceding Thomas’ baptism in 1743. There are no such records in Meldreth or Melbourne. However, I was eventually able to locate this record in the parish register of Wimpole, a tiny village 2.7 miles northwest of Meldreth.[6]

John C Anne Chamberlain M Wimpole 1742
Detail of marriage record, 1742/3; Parish of Wimpole (Cambridgeshire), Bishop’s Transcripts. “John Casborn of the parish of Meldreth and Ann Chamberlain of this Parish were married by Banns January the 18.” (Click on image to enlarge)

This is almost certainly the right couple, given the proximity of the marriage date to the birth of their first child, and given the statement that John belongs to the parish of Meldreth. I could not find any marriage records that might contradict this evidence.

The next step is to try to find baptismal records for John and Ann. This turned out to be fairly easy for Ann. I could not find any records for Chamberlain in Wimpole, where John & Ann were married. On the other hand, there were many Chamberlain records in Meldreth, including this one.

Ann C baptism 1717_18
Detail of baptismal record, 1717/18; Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire). “Anne daughter of William & Elizabeth was Baptized March 9th – 1717.”[7] (Click on image to enlarge)

The date of birth would have made Ann about 24 years old when she was married, and about 36 when she had her first child, so this fits in well with the available data. By the way, you may have noticed in the baptismal record that the dates for 1717 begin and end in March. That’s because at that time in England the legal new year began on March 25th (Lady Day).[8] In addition, England was using the old Julian calendar, which calculated leap years incorrectly.[9] This was corrected by the Calendar Act of 1750, which came into effect in 1752.[10]

To be fair, I also found two baptismal records for Ann Chamberlain in the village of Wrestlingworth, Bedfordshire, in the years 1710 and 1713, respectively. Wrestlingworth is about 5.6 miles west of Wimpole and 7.2 miles west of Meldreth. It is possible that one of these could have married John instead of Ann of Meldreth, but the latter is more likely. Also, there are no burial or marriage records to suggest that Ann of Meldreth died or was married to anyone else.

I don’t know why Ann was living in Wimpole at the time, but it was probably for employment. There was a very large estate at Wimpole (think Downton Abbey!) at the time, now part of the National Trust.[11] Such a large household would have required many servants – a good reason for Ann to be there.

Finding a baptismal record for John is where the brick wall comes into play. The problem is that there are too many candidates. Assuming that John was a bachelor when he was married in 1742/3 (likely but not certain), he was probably born sometime between 1700 and 1725. Meldreth parish registers list two baptisms for John Casb(*) in this time frame:

“June the 8th [1707] the two children of William Cassbell deceased and of Anne his wife were Baptized the eldest born October 1701 was Baptized John the youngest born March 6th 1702 was Bap. William”[12]
“John the Son of John Cassbell and of Anne his wife was Baptized May the 26th [1714]”[13]

To complicate matters further, in the nearby village of Orwell (2.5 miles north of Meldreth), the baptism of John Casborn, son of Thomas and Mary, was recorded on November 26, 1721.[14] If I extend the distance or age range a little bit, the list of candidates grows considerably. However, I think we can limit the list to these three.

How can we tell which one married Ann Chamberlain? I don’t have an answer, but there is information that might help us to narrow it down a bit.

The first John, born in October 1701 and baptized in 1707, became an orphan when his widowed mother died In 1718.[15] John would have needed to become self-sufficient pretty quickly if he wasn’t already. He seems a less likely candidate for Ann’s husband because of his age – 41 would have been pretty old to be getting married for the first time. It’s also possible he died at an early age. One of these two burials might have been him.

“John Cassbell Servant at Bassingbourn was buried in Woolen December the 3d [1724]”[16]
“John Cassbell, a poor shoemaker was buried in Woolen March the 26th 1727”[17]

Unfortunately, I just don’t have enough information to draw any firm conclusions.

Based on his date of birth, the second John, baptized in 1714, could be the one who married Ann. I think he would have been too young to be the servant who died in 1724 or the shoemaker in 1727. However, I’ve searched far and wide for any other records that might be related to him and have come up blank.

At first, John Casborn of Orwell might not seem a likely candidate because he was not baptized (or presumably born) in Meldreth. In addition, there is evidence that his parents continued to live in Orwell for the rest of their lives – well after John and Ann were married.

But there is even stronger evidence in favor of this being the right John. The first is this death record from 1796.[18]

John C burial Meld 1796 age 75
Detail of burial record, 1796, Meldreth Parish registers 1681-1877. “John Casborn, Parish Clerk, Aged 75 _____ Jan.y 4.” (Click on image to enlarge)

If you calculate the birth year from this record, John Casborn was born about 1721 – the same year as John Casborn of Orwell. There are no other baptisms recorded for John Casb(*) around this time in the local area, so this provides strong evidence that John, born in Orwell, became the parish clerk and lived in Meldreth. There is no indication of when he was appointed or how long he served in this capacity.

Another piece of evidence is the fact that he named his first-born son Thomas. It was common practice at the time to name first-born sons after their paternal grandfather.[19] John of Orwell’s father was named Thomas, while the fathers of John born 1701 and 1707 were named William and John, respectively. These naming conventions were not required, nor were they consistently followed. So while suggestive, the fact that John and Ann’s first son was named Thomas doesn’t prove anything. The fact that their first daughter was named Mary (John of Orwell’s mother’s name) is also suggestive, although the naming convention would have given her the name of Elizabeth (Ann’s mother).

Another piece of evidence, though weak, is geography. Orwell is less than 1 mile away from Wimpole. If John was living in Orwell at the time Ann came to Wimpole, they could have easily met. On the other hand, if John became the parish clerk of Meldreth at an early age, he could have met Ann while she was still living in Meldreth.

Map showing locations of Meldreth, Orwell, Wimpole, and Wimpole Estate (Google Maps)

So, to summarize, there are at least three candidates for John Casb(*), who married Ann Chamberlain in 1642. Of these, John born in 1701 seems the least likely. Of the remaining two, my money is on John, baptized in Orwell 1721. But without better evidence, I just can’t say for sure. So for now, this is where my family tree for the Meldreth Casbons comes to a dead end.

[1] Church of England, Meldreth Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877, Thomas Casbel baptism (1743); FHL Film #1040542.
[2] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, James Casbell baptism (1746).
[3] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, James Casbull baptism (1748).
[4] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, Mary Casball baptism (1751).
[5] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, Anna Casburn baptism (1754).
[6] Church of England. Wimpole Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), Bishop’s transcripts for Wimpole, 1599-1857, Casborn–Chamberlain marriage (1742); digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 June 2016), image 122 of 799.
[7] Church of England, Meldreth Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), Bishop’s transcripts for Meldreth, 1599-1862, Anne Chamberlain baptism (1717/18); digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 February 2017), image 174 of 899.
[8] Wikipedia (, “Calendar (New Style) Act 1750,” rev. 13:33, 22 January 2017.
[9] FamilySearch Wiki (, “England Calendar Changes,” rev. 20:49, 25 December 2015.
[10] Wikipedia, “Calendar (New Style) Act 1750,” rev. 13:33, 22 January 2017.
[11] Caroline Norton, “Wimpole Hall—Upstairs and Downstairs,” The (Cambridge Family History Society) Journal 19 (April 2013): 12–16; PDF image, Cambridge Family History Society ( : accessed 16 February 2016).
[12] Church of England, Meldreth Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877, John & William Cassbell baptism (1707); FHL Film #1040542.
[13] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, John Cassbell baptism (1714).
[14] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” John Casborn, 26 Nov 1721, database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 November 2015); citing Orwell, Cambridge, England, reference items 9-10; FHL microfilm 1,040,543.
[15] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, Ann Cassbell burial (1718); FHL Film #1040542.
[16] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, John Cassbell burial (1724).
[17] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, John Cassbell burial (1727).
[18] Church of England, Meldreth Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), Bishop’s transcripts for Meldreth, 1599-1862, John Casborn burial (1796); digital images, FamilySearch. ( : accessed 16 Feb 2017), image 257 of 899.
[19] FamilySearch Wiki (, “British Naming Conventions,” rev. 06:29, 3 February 2016.

The French Connection


  1. In which U.S. State did the Casbons first settle and where did they come from?
  2. What year is the earliest U.S. Census with the surname Casbon?
  3. What is the first U.S. military conflict for which there are service records of a Casbon family member?


1. The U.S. State with the earliest records of the Casbon name is Louisiana. Today Louisiana has the second highest number of individuals with the Casbon surname after Indiana.[1] A few of Jesse Casbon’s (1843—1934; son of Thomas Casbon, 1803—1888) descendants now live in Louisiana. Otherwise, the remainder of the Louisiana Casbons are not related to the “Indiana Casbons,” and their ancestors almost certainly did not originate in England.

Many of the given names for this family, especially in early records, are French in origin. It is possible that the family migrated to Louisiana from Acadia, which was the name given to portions of the Canadian maritime provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island) by French settlers in the 1600s.[2] In 1755, the British began to expel the Acadians from their homeland in Canada, and they were dispersed to a variety of locations, including France, Great Britain, the Caribbean, and the American east coast.[3] Gradually, many of them resettled in Louisiana, which had originally been a French Colony, and in 1763 became a possession of Spain following the Seven Years’ War.[4] This became part of the United States in 1803 with the signing of the Louisiana Purchase.[5] In Louisiana, the term Acadian was shortened to Cajun, referring to the descendants of the original Acadians.[6]

It’s also possible that the Louisiana Casbons have Creole origins, which refers to those who were native-born in Louisiana. This originally referred to descendants of French settlers but also “came to be applied to African-descended slaves and Native Americans who were born in Louisiana.”[7]

The 1900 U.S. Census has a record for Francois Casbon, born 1825 in Louisiana.[8] His father’s birthplace is recorded as France, so it’s also possible that some or all of the first Louisiana Casbons migrated directly from France in the late 18th or early 19th century.

I don’t know which of these origins best describes the Casbons of Louisiana. Hopefully this knowledge has been passed down through the generations for the benefit of present-day family members.

Like those of us with English roots, it’s possible that the name has changed over time. There are records for similar French surnames, such as Cassabon, Casabonne and Casbonne.

2. The 1820 U.S. Census has an entry for “Bte [Baptiste] Casbon,” whose age was between 16 and 25 years.[9] This is the earlies census record I have found with the Casbon surname.

Bte Casbon 1820 Louisiana census
Detail from 1820 U.S. Census, St. Jacques Parish, Louisiana. The “1” in the first numbered column denotes a free white male under age 10; the “1” in the 4th numbered column denotes a free white male age 16-25; the “1 in the 9th numbered column denotes a free white female age 16-25. The 16th through 19th numbered columns show numbers of males slaves of different ages; columns 20 through 23 show numbers of female slaves; these are followed by numbers for free male and female “colored persons.”[10] (Click on image to enlarge)

There may be earlier census records with variant spellings of the name, but without more information, such as birth and marriage records, I can’t tell if they are related.

3. Corporal Bte [Baptiste] Casbon is recorded as a member of Colonel Landry’s 6th Louisiana Militia regiment in the War of 1812.[11]

Bte Casbon War of 1812 index card
Index card of Corporal Bte Casbon, War of 1812. (Click on image to enlarge)

Corporal Casbon is listed in the rosters of those who fought in the New Orleans Campaign, and he very likely participated in the Battle of New Orleans, January 1815, led by Major General Andrew Jackson.[12]

Is this the same Bte Casbon as the 1820 census? He might be, depending on his age. Since the census only gives his age as 16-25, he could have been anywhere from 8 to 17 years old in 1812, and 11 to 20 when the war ended in 1815. If he was at the older end of this range, it might be possible, though unlikely, that he achieved the rank of Corporal by the age of 20.


This is only a brief introduction to the Louisiana Casbons. They have not been the focus of my research, but I wanted to mention them in the blog because they also have a story worth preserving. Hopefully a member of that family is doing research or will be motivated to do so.

[1] “Casbon Surname Meaning & Statistics,” United States, Forebears ( : accessed 8 February 2017).
[2] “History of the Acadians,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 8 February 2017), rev. 31 Jan 17, 23:42.
[3] “From Acadian to Cajun,” Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve Louisiana (n.d.), National Park Service ( : accessed 8 February 2017).
[4] “History of Louisiana,” Wikipedia (accessed 8 February 2017), rev. 8 Feb 2017, 12:28.
[5] “Louisiana Purchase, 1803,” Office of The Historian ( : accessed 9 February 2017).
[6] “Tracing Your Family’s Roots,” Ensemble Encore: The Acadian Memorial Archive ( : accessed 8 February 2017).
[7] “Louisiana Creole people,” Wikipedia (accessed 8 February 2017), rev. 9 Feb 2017, 00:22.
[8] 1900 United States Census, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, Ward 3; p. 265 (stamped), side B, dwelling 328, family 321, Francois Casbon;database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 February 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T623.
[9] “United States Census, 1820,” St Jacques Parish, Louisiana, p. 381 (stamped), line 6, Bte Casbon; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 February 2017); citing p. 384, NARA microfilm publication M33, roll 30; FHL microfilm 181,356.
[10] “1820 United States Census,” Wikipedia (accessed 9 February 2017), rev. 15 Jan 2017, 21:05.
[11] United States War of 1812 Index to Service Records, 1812-1815, Bte Casban; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 February 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication M602, roll 36; FHL microfilm 882,554.
[12], Battle of New Orleans, War of 1812 American Muster and Troop Roster List (N.p.: n.p., n.d.), unpaginated, 41st page, PDF brochure, National Park Service, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve ( : accessed 9 February 2017).

“Two Children Drowned”

This article appeared in The Cambridge Independent Press, May 21, 1859.[1]

Camb Indep 21 May 1859
(Click on image to enlarge)

Sarah Casbon was the second child and first daughter born to John and Rebecca (Speechly) Casbon of Peterborough (see “How doth your garden grow? Part 2”). She was baptized November 11, 1855, and probably named after her maternal grandmother, Sarah (Delanoy) Speechly.[2]

Sarah baptism detail 1855
Baptismal record of Sarah Casbon, 1855 Peterborough (Northamptonshire). (Click on image to enlarge)

The news story gives the location of the incident as Boonfield. At the time, this was a mostly rural area on the northeastern outskirts of Peterborough.

Boonfields map
Map detail showing Peterborough and Boon Fields. Source: Ordnance Survey First Series, Sheet 64 (1856); online image, A Vision of Britain Through Time ( : accessed 1 February 2017). This work is based on data provided through and uses historical material which is copyright of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project and the University of Portsmouth. (Click on image to enlarge)

This is the kind of story you hate to see. Although death in childhood was a common occurrence in Victorian times, the loss of a child to drowning must have been an especially hard blow. We would like to think the major causes of death in childhood have been overcome. While that is largely true, there is a sad exception. Other than birth defects, drowning remains the most frequent cause of death in children 1-4 years old.[3]

[1] “Peterborough…Two Children Drowned,” The Cambridge (England) Independent Press, 21 May 1859, p. 7, col. 4; online images, Findmypast (, British Newspapers 1710-1953.
[2] “Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912”, Sarah Casbon, 11 Nov 1855, images and transcripts, Ancestry ( : accessed 1 February 2017); citing Northamptonshire Anglican Parish Registers and Bishop’s Transcripts. Textual records. Northamptonshire Record Office, Northampton, England.
[3] “Water-Related Injuries,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( : accessed 1 February 2017).

Using GPS: James & Susanna

Buckle your seat belts, serious genealogy discussion ahead! If you’re not into that, feel free to sit this one out. It’s OK, I don’t mind.

In “James Casbon, Farmer and Carrier, 1806-1871, Part 1” I provided this marriage record for James Casbon and Susanna Hayden Sanders. [1]

James Casbon Susanna Sanders marriage 1834 small
Marriage record of James Casbon and Susanna Hayden Sanders, August 22, 1834, Church of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, London. (Click on image to enlarge)

I raised the question, “how do I know this is the right James?” It might seem like a silly or trivial question. After all, who else would it be? But genealogy researchers know that mistaken identities are all too common and have led many down the wrong rabbit hole, resulting in incorrect and unsupportable family trees. I know there was at least one other James Casbon living in England at the time. There could have been others I don’t know about, or someone with a similar name that got misspelled on the marriage record.

In this case I raised the question because of the unusual location of the wedding. Up to this point in James’ life I was unaware of any connection with London. It was very unusual for any of the Meldreth Casbons to get married anyplace except Meldreth or one of the nearby parishes. And the marriage record in question says that James was “of this parish,” meaning he lived in London.

How do we resolve questions like this? Fortunately there is a navigational tool we all know as GPS—that’s right, the Genealogical Proof Standard! I introduced the GPS in an earlier post and gave an example of how it can be applied. I will do the same now to answer the question I posed about the marriage of James Casbon and Susanna Hayden Sanders. Here are the steps of the GPS.

GPS insert
Adapted from The Board for Certification of Genealogists

First, what research have I done? In this case, this means looking for as much evidence as possible to either prove or disprove that the James in the wedding record is the one who was born in Meldreth in 1806.

The marriage record doesn’t tell me when or where James was born. Unlike many marriage records, it doesn’t even say whether he was a bachelor or a widower. All it really tells me is the date, the location, and the names of the bride, officiating minister, and witnesses. That’s not a lot to go on, but it’s better than nothing.

The date is important. I knew that James’ first wife Ann was buried in October 1833.[2] I also knew from the 1841 census that he married a woman named Susanna, and that their first child (John) was born about 1835.[3] So, the marriage record of 1834 was consistent with these dates.

1841 census detail
 Detail from 1841 census, Meldreth (Cambridgeshire). (Click on image to enlarge)

The fact that the name of James’ wife in the marriage and census records was the same is helpful, but doesn’t prove they were the same person. Susanna was a very common name. However, the bride’s middle name, “Hayden,” is unique, and a good clue for further research. Using her name, and estimated birth year (1808) from the 1841 census, I did a search for birth or baptismal records, and found a record for “Susnah Hayden Sanders,” baptized February 25, 1808, in Braughing, Hertfordshire, to John and Ann Sanders.[4]

Susanna H Sanders bapt Braughing 1808
Detail from Braughing (Hertfordshire) parish registers, baptisms, 1808. (Click on image to enlarge)

This was a lucky break. There were many “Susanna Sanders” born in England during this timeframe, but this was the only one with the middle name “Hayden.” It didn’t prove she was the same person named on the marriage certificate, but it gave me enough information to dig deeper – namely a location and the names of her parents.

Next, I made a guess that Hayden might be Susanna’s mother’s maiden name. I looked for a marriage record between a John Sanders and Ann Hayden in the timeframe of about 1790—1810. I found two: one 1805 in Broxbourne (Hertfordshire), and the other 1806 in Braughing (Hertfordshire). The latter caught my attention, since it was the same location as “Susnah’s” birth record. John Sanders married Ann Hayden November 28, 1806 in Braughing.[5] Based on the date and location, I was confident these were the parents of “Susnah,” and that she was probably the same person in the 1834 marriage record. But I still wanted stronger evidence that she was the same Susanna who married James from Meldreth.

It took another lucky break to confirm the connection. When I reviewed the 1851 census records for James, I noticed that three of the daughters were not present in his household. I did a separate search for each of them and found the following record for daughter Sarah.[6]

Sarah C b1844 Meld 1851 census Royston
Detail from 1851 census for Royston (Hertfordshire). (Click on image to enlarge)

Sarah Casbon, age 7, was recorded in the household of her grandparents, John and Ann Sanders, now living in Royston (a few miles from Meldreth)! It’s possible she was there because of her mother’s recent death in 1850. The census shows that Sarah was from Meldreth, and that her grandmother Ann was from Braughing. This almost certainly meant they were the same John and Ann (Hayden) Sanders married in Braughing in 1806.

This census was the piece of evidence that tied it all together. If John and Ann (Hayden) Sanders were Sarah’s grandparents, then their daughter Susannah Hayden Sanders was the same person listed as the wife of James Casbon of Meldreth on the 1841 census. It would be extremely unlikely for two different men named James Casbon to have married two different women with the unusual name of Susannah Hayden Sanders, especially within such a narrow timeframe. So, the couple married at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in 1834 must be James from Meldreth and Susanna from Braughing.

What about contradictory evidence? There is some, but I think it can be dismissed fairly easily. First, in 1834 there were two men named James Casbon from Meldreth. The other was the son of Isaac Casbon, born about 1813 (see “James Casbon of Meldreth, England and Porter County, Indiana”). He married Elizabeth Waller in 1835.[7] There is no reason to believe he also married Susanna Hayden Sanders in 1834, especially since there are separate entries for each couple in the 1841 census.

As I said, there were two marriage records for John Sanders and Ann Hayden, one in Broxbourne and the other in Braughing. The two parishes are about 11 miles apart, with Braughing being nearer to Royston. Although it’s possible that Ann Hayden, born in Braughing, was married in Broxbourne, it’s much more likely that she married in her home town.

One other piece of contradictory evidence is that the 1841 Meldreth census says that Susanna was “born in the same County [Cambridgeshire].” This contradicts the birth record from Braughing (Hertfordshire). However, errors are quite common in census records, and this detail has little significance compared to the rest of the evidence.

In this discussion, I haven’t gone through the steps of the GPS sequentially, but I think I have covered all the steps.

This post may give the appearance that my research was done in an orderly fashion, that is anything but the truth. I first recorded the marriage of James and Susanna sometime in 2015. I didn’t consciously set out to apply the GPS until I started to firm up facts for the blog entries about James a few weeks ago. It wasn’t until I started to dig deeper into Susanna’s birth as well as looking at census entries for James and Susanna’s children that the evidence started to come together. Genealogical proof can be a tedious business. It frequently requires evidence gathered from a variety of sources over a considerable period of time. And sometimes, as in this instance, it requires quite a bit of luck!

[1] [4] “Westminster Marriages”, images and transriptions, Findmypast ( : accessed 17 January 2017), James Casbon – Susanna Hayden Sanders (1834); citing City of Westminster Archives Centre.
[2] Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), Parish registers,1681-1877, Anne Carsbourn burial, 4 Oct 1833; FHL microilm 1,040,542.
[3] “1841 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast ( : accessed 4 August 2016), James Casbon; citing The National Archives PRO HO 107, piece 63, folio 9, p.12.
[4] “Hertfordshire Baptisms,” Susnah Hayden Sanders, 26 Feb 1808, images and transcriptions, Findmypast ( : accessed 17 January 2017).
[5] “England Marriages, 1538–1973”; database, FamilySearch ( accessed 19 January 2017), John Sanders and Ann Hayden, 23 Dec 1806; citing Braughing, Hertford, England, reference ; FHL microfilm 991,368.
[6] “1851 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” Royston, Hertfordshire; images and transcriptions, Findmypast (accessed 13 January 2017), entry for John Sanders; citing The National Archives, PRO HO 107, piece 1,707, folio 423, p. 8, household 29.
[7] Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), Bishop’s transcripts for Meldreth, 1599-1862, James Casbon—Elizabeth Waller, 5 Jul 1835; browsable images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 20 May 2016).

Lawrence J Goes Transcontinental

It’s time for a little break from all that serious genealogy work. Here’s an article about one of the Indiana Casbons.[1]

Lawrence J Casbon Hudson article 1920
(Click on image to enlarge)

This article was featured in the November 9, 1920, edition of The Hudson Triangle, the newsletter of the Hudson Motor Care Company. L. J. Casbon was Lawrence John Casbon, the only son of Charles Thomas Casbon (1840—1915), and grandson of Thomas Casbon (1803-1888), my third great grandfather.

Lawrence was born August 26, 1875, probably at the family farm in Porter Township, Porter County, Indiana.[2] For those living in the area, it would have been on what is now the northeast corner of the intersection of S 300 W and W 300 S. My notes say that Lawrence lost his right hand in a mowing machine accident when he was about 14 years old. Rather than follow his father into farming, he entered into a number of apparently successful business ventures. He owned a number of pool halls, a cigar store, and a garage in a variety of cities and towns in northwest Indiana: Goshen, Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Mishawaka, and South Bend.

Lawrence married Lydia May Pauter January 23, 1899, in Adrian, Michigan.[3] They never had children.

Lawrence John Casbon  Lydia Pauter
Portrait (wedding?) of Lawrence J and L. May (Pauter) Casbon, undated. Photo courtesy of Ron Casbon. (Click on image to enlarge)

This slightly different version of the story of Lawrence’s cross-country drive tells us that he was moving to Los Angeles from Indiana.[4]

Lawrence J Casbon CA Hudson article Oct 1920
(Click on image to enlarge)

I don’t know why Lawrence and May decided to move to California. I suspect he had somewhat of a restless spirit. Once there, he entered into a real estate partnership, as evidenced by this entry in the 1923 Los Angeles City Directory.[5]

Lawrence J Casbon Los Angeles directory 1923
(Click on image to enlarge)

Sadly, he did not live long to enjoy the change in climate. Lawrence died October 9, 1923 in Los Angeles.[6] His wife May lived in Los Angeles for the rest of her long life. She died at the age of 98 on June 10, 1971.[7]

[1] “One-Armed Hudson Owner Makes Transcontinental,” The Hudson Triangle, newsletter of the Hudson Motor Care Company, vol. 9, no. 51 (6 Nov 1920), unnumbered p. 3; Google Books ( : accessed 25 Jan 17)
[2] “World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards,” Lawrence John Casbon, 1918; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 August 2016); citing St. Joseph County, Indiana, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,653,193.
[3] “Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925,” Lawrence Casbon—May Pauter, 23 Jan 1899; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 January 2017); citing Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan, item 3 p 62 rn 16, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2,342,512.
[4] “One Arm Enough to Handle Hudson,” The Bakersfield Californian, 30 Oct 1920, part 2, p. 4, col. 1; online images, Access Newspaper Archive (available through participating libraries : accessed 28 January 2017).
[5] Los Angeles (California) City Directory (The Los Angeles Directory Company: 1923), p. 2821, col. 2; online image, Los Angeles Public Library ( : accessed 28 January).
[6] “California, Death Index, 1905-1939”, Lawrence J Casbon, 9 Oct 1923; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 January 2017); citing certificate no. 43379, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento.
[7] “California Death Index, 1940-1997,” Lydia M Casbon, 10 Jun 1971; database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 January 2017); citing Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento.

James Casbon, Farmer and Carrier, 1806-1871, Part 2

Part 1 of this series ended with the death of James’ wife of 16 years, Susanna Hayden Sanders. The next chapter of James’ life was turbulent, as he faced significant legal, financial, and domestic challenges.

The first record of this period is the 1851 census.[1]

John C b abt 1835 1851 census Meld
Detail from 1851 census, Meldreth, Cambridgeshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

We see from this census record that James was not present at the time the census was taken. The first listing is for his son John, age 15. There is a notation, “Hedd [Head] from home,” indicating that James was away for unknown reasons. The occupation is listed as “Farmer 13 acres & Carier [Carrier].” This occupation almost certainly applies to James, not his son John. The census enumerator has even written the occupation above the line on the form, possibly to make this clear.

This is the first indication that James had another occupation besides being a farmer. A Carrier was “a person who drove a vehicle used to transport goods.”[2] In today’s terms, we would probably say he was in the freight and delivery business – the Victorian version of FedEx®. When James became a carrier is unknown, but if he was already working as a carrier in 1834, it would explain why he was in London when he married Susanna Hayden Sanders.

This detail from a village directory for Barley, Hertfordshire (more about that later) shows James’ delivery schedule.[3] He probably had arrangements for lodging in London during his weekly visits.

Barley directory detail 1864
Detail from Barley (Hertfordshire) directory, 1864. (Click on image to enlarge)

We also see from the 1851 census that only three of the seven children are listed: John; George, age 14; and Fanny, age 6. By this time, son Alfred Hitch Casbon was working as a tailor in Derbyshire.[4] Daughter Martha, age 12, can be found in the household of her maternal uncle Zacheriah Sanders on the 1851 Census.[5] Sarah was with her maternal grandparents, John and Ann Sanders.[6] I haven’t been able to locate the oldest daughter Ann, but I know from later records that she was alive. I wonder if these daughters were taken in by relatives after Susanna’s death, to ease the burden on James.

The census also shows us that James had a housekeeper, a maid, and two lodgers.

The first hint of financial troubles appears in 1851. This article from the Hertford Mercury shows that James was brought to court for a debt of 8£, 10s.[7] I can’t be certain this is the same James, but based on later developments, it seems likely.

Hertford Mercury 5Jul1851 James C owes 1l.10s
Article from Hertford Mercury, July 5, 1851. (Click on image to enlarge)

James married again, this time to Charlotte (Webb) Cheyney, a widow. They were married December 1, 1851, in Hackney, Middlesex, London. [8]

James C Charlotte Webb marriage 1851
Marriage record of James Casbon and Charlotte Webb Cheyney. (Click on image to enlarge)

In 1853, James’ suffered a severe financial setback. He was unable to pay his debts and was placed in debtors’ prison in London. [9]

Debtors prison Mar 1853
Article from The London Gazette, 20 Mar 1853. (Click on image to enlarge)

This article describes him as a farmer and general dealer, and gives him a London address. Is this the right James? Yes – the next article tells us enough to be certain.[10]

Debtors court appearance May 1853
Article from The London Gazette, 13 May 1853 (Click on image to enlarge)

This article tells us that James was “formerly of Meldreth, Cambridgeshire,” and a “Farmer, Carrier, Dealer in Hats, and General Dealer.” Other than saying he is “latterly out of business,” the articles don’t give an indication of how much debt he owed or to whom. I suspect that it was his business as a dealer, in hats or “general,” that got him in trouble. Later records, such as the directory entry, above, show that he continued to work as a carrier.

I don’t have access to the court records and don’t know how long he was imprisoned or how he settled the claims against him, but he apparently made it out of prison before November, 1854. In that month he was “charged by his wife with assaulting her and turning her out of doors.”[11]

Hertford Mercury 25Nov1854
Article from the Hertford Mercury, 25 Nov 1854. (Click on image to enlarge)

Although “cruel treatment was clearly proved,” James’ wife Charlotte is described as a “Tartar,” which was a term meaning “a person of bitter, irritable temper; especially, an irascible domineering woman; as. that man who marries a tartar is to be profoundly pitied.”[12]

Besides telling us about the unhappy state of his third marriage, this article is the first record showing that James was no longer living in Meldreth. Sometime within the past few years he had relocated to Barley, a village in Hertfordshire, a village about 5 miles south of Meldreth.

The records do not show why he moved to Barley. However, the move was permanent. The 1861 census shows James, still employed as a carrier, living in Barley with his son John, also a carrier, and daughter Fanny.[13]

James H Casbon 1861 census detail Barley Detail from 1861 census, Barley, Hertfordshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

Son George, a wheelwright, was also living in Barley in 1861, with his new in-laws.[14]

Notably, James’ wife Charlotte is not seen in the 1861 census. I have not been able to find any record of her after the 1854 court case.

This census is also interesting in that James has a middle initial, “H.” Earlier records do not provide a middle name or initial for James. However, on his daughter Sarah’s marriage record of 1873 (after James’ death), her father’s name is recorded as “James Howse Casbon.”[15] Howse was his mother Mary’s maiden name, so this is apparently the meaning of the “H” in the 1861 census.

I’ll end James’s story with another mystery about his middle initial. James was buried February 4, 1871 in Barley. The parish register for his burial shows his middle initial to be “I,” or possibly “J.”[16]

James Casbon b.1806 burial 1871 Barley
Detail from Barley Parish registers, Burials 1871. (Click on image to enlarge)

The civil record of James’ death, lists his name as James Itchcock Casbon.[17] There is no doubt this is the same James Casbon. Where did “Itchcock” come from? I have no idea.

[1]  “1851 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, Findmypast ( : accessed 23 July 2016), entry for John Casbon, High Street, Meldreth; citing [The National Archives] PRO HO 107/1708/56, p. 5; Royston (Hertfordshire) registration district.
[2] “Victorian Occupations,” Carrier, London Census 1891 Transcription Blog ( : accessed 24 January 2017).
[3] “Barley,” History, Topography, & Directory of Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire (London: 1864), p. 241; digital images, Google Books ( : accessed 24 January 2017).
[4] “1851 England, Scotland and Wales census,” Findmypast (accessed 9 August 2016), entry for Hitch Casbourn, Lodger, Street Side, Sandiacre, Derbyshire; citing [The National Archives] PRO HO 107/2141/241, p. 241 (stamped); Shardlow registration district.
[5] “1851 Census … ,” Findmypast (accessed 9 August 2016), entry for Martha Casbarn, Niece, Rowley Yard, St. Giles, Cambridge; citing [The National Archives] PRO HO 107/1760/867, p. 887 (stamped); Cambridge registration district.
[6] “1851 Census …,” Findmypast (accessed 13 January 2017), entry for Sarah Casbon, granddaughter, High Street, Royston, Hertfordshire; citing [The National Archives] PRO HO 107/1708/56, p. 423 (stamped); Royston registration district.
[7] “Hertford County Court.—Friday June 27,” Hertford (Hertfordshire, England) Mercury, 5 July 1851, No. 885, vol. 17, p. 4, col. 4,  James Mason v. James Casbon; online images, Findmypast ( : accessed 7 November 2016), British Newspapers 1710-1953.
[8] “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921”, James Casbon – Charlotte Webb Cheney (1851), images and transcriptions, Ancestry ( : accessed 10 August 2016); citing London Metropolitan Archives.
[9] “Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors, ” The London Gazette, 20 Mar 1853, Issue 21,425, p. 943, col. 2; online archive ( – accessed 17 Jun 2016).
[10] “Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors, ” The London Gazette, 20 Mar 1853, Issue 21,425, p. 943, col. 2; online archive ( – accessed 17 Jun 2016).
[11] “Royston … Petty Sessions, Wednesday, November 15,” Hertford Mercury, 25 Nov 1854, p.3, col. 4; Findmypast (accessed 7 November 2016), British Newspapers 1710-1953.
[12] Zells’s Popular Encyclopedia: a Complete Dictionary of the English Language, 5 vols. (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1882), vol. 4, p. 2332, entry for “Tartar”; online image, Google Books ( : accessed 26 January 2017).
[13] “1861 England, Wales & Scotland Census,” Findmypast (accessed 2 August 2016), entry for James H Casbon, Chequer Corner, Barley, Hertfordshire; citing The National Archives, RG 9, piece 812, folio 85, p. 5; Royston registration district, ED 6, household 23.
[14] “1861 England, Wales & Scotland Census,” Findmypast (accessed 4 August 2016), entry for George Casbon (Son In Law), Smith End, Barley, Hertfordshire; citing The National Archives, RG 9, piece 812, folio 76, p. 14; Royston registration district, ED 5, household 77.
[15] St. Philips Dalson church, Hackney (London) parish, marriages 1873, Herbert EdmundLeader – Sarah Sanders Casbon, 28 Apr 1873; accessed in “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921”, images and transcriptions, Ancestry ( : accessed 10 August 2016).
[16] Parish of Barley (Hertfordshire), Burials 1870-71, James I Casbon, 4 Feb 1871; accessed in “Hertfordshire Burials,” images and transcriptions, Findmypast (accessed 13 January 2017).
[17] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007,” James Itchcock Casbon, Deaths registered in January, February and March 1871, p. 56, col. 2; image and transcription, Findmypast (accessed 13 January 2017).

James Casbon, Farmer and Carrier, 1806-1871, Part 1

James Casbon of Meldreth (~1772-1833) had only one son, also named James, who is the subject of today’s post. He was born September 7, 1806 and baptized September 28 in the same year.[1]

James C baptism 1806 Meld BT
Detail from Meldreth Bishop’s Transcripts, showing birth and baptismal dates for James Casbon, 1806. (Click on image to enlarge)

He was a first cousin to my third great grandfather, Thomas (b. 1803), and the nephew of Thomas’ father Isaac.

There is so much interesting information about James that I decided to break his story into more than one post. Of course, as always, I have more questions than answers.

The first record I have after his baptism is his marriage in 1827 to Ann Hitch, in Steeple Morden, a village about 6 miles west of Meldreth.[2]

1827 James C Ann H M Steeple Morden BT
Marriage record of James Casbon and Ann Hitch. (Click on image to enlarge)

James and Ann had one child, Alfred Hitch Casbon, whose middle name was the subject of a recent post. Ann died 1833 in Meldreth, leaving James with their five-year-old son.[3]

James remarried soon thereafter, on August 22, 1834, to Susanna Hayden Sanders.[4]

James Casbon Susanna Sanders marriage 1834
Marriage record of James Casbon and Susanna Hayden Sanders. (Click on image to enlarge)

This record is most interesting because of the location: the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, a famous church in Westminster, London.

St Martin 1838
“St.Martin’s Church from Charing Cross” engraved by J.Woods, published in Woods Views in London .., 1837. Image courtesy of (Click on image to enlarge)

The question I have is, what was James doing in London? The marriage record says that both he and his bride were “of this parish.” This phrase usually means the individual(s) had resided in the parish for at least three weeks.[5] I can’t answer this question, unless it was related to James’ occupation as a carrier (more about this in the next post). His bride Susanna was not from London either, so her presence there is also unexplained.

There is another noteworthy detail from both of James’ marriage records. He did not sign with his mark, suggesting that he could read and write. This sets him apart from many if not all of the other Casbons in Meldreth.

Another logical question is, how do I know this is the right James? That will also be the topic of another post. For now, suffice it to say that there is a strong chain of evidence supporting my conclusion that the James Casbon who married Susanna Hayden Sanders in London is the same one born in Meldreth in 1806.

The next record I have of James is the 1841 census of England and Wales.[6]

James C b1806 1841 census Meld
Detail from 1841 Census, Meldreth Parish. (Click on image to enlarge)

There are several interesting things to learn from this census record. First note that James’ age is reported as 34 and Susanna’s as 33. Census enumerators weren’t required to use exact ages in 1841. In fact, they were instructed to round ages between 30 and 34 down to 30.[7] Apparently the enumerator ignored the instructions. The “yes” on the far right of each page indicates that they were born in the “same County,” in this case Cambridgeshire. In Susanna’s case, this is incorrect. I have good evidence that she was born in Hertfordshire.[8]

We can see that by 1841, James and Susanna already had a sizeable family, including Hitch, age 12, from James’ previous marriage. The other children were: John, age 6; George, 5; Ann, 3; and Martha, 1.

What I find most interesting about this census is James’ occupation of Farmer. This term has a distinctly different meaning than Agricultural Labourer. A farmer either owned the land, or more likely was a tenant of the landowner.[9] Farmers hired Agricultural labourers, who were paid with wages or perhaps a share of crops. A farmer had at least some security because he had certain rights to the land and its proceeds. The agricultural labourer was at the mercy of the farmer and did not have guaranteed employment.[10]

James was clearly better off socially and financially than the other Meldreth Casbons at that time. This is supported by another detail in the 1841 census. The final name listed in James’ household is Martha Smith, age 19. The initials “F.S.” under profession, etc. stands for female servant.[11] The fact that James could afford to have a servant puts him in a different league compared to his “Ag. Lab” Casbon cousins.

This raises yet another question: how did James acquire this status? I don’t know the answer, but I recently became aware of a clue.

The Meldreth History web site has an informative article about the enclosure of Meldreth in 1820.[12] Enclosure (or inclosure) was a legal process by which previously open fields were closed off and allotted to individual owners.[13] Enclosure resulted in dramatic shifts in agricultural and labor practices. The Meldreth article provides a link to a transcript of the Award Book for the Meldreth enclosure.[14] This document details how the enclosure was to be accomplished and spells out individual land allotments, much like modern land titles.[15]

One entry in the 1820 Award Book is a copyhold allotment to James Casbourn.[16] The allotment is for “one acre three roods and twenty nine perches.” Copyhold is a term that goes back to the Middle Ages, and it means that the individual, or copyholder, is a tenant of the landowner, with specific rights and duties.[17] The copyhold allotted to James Casbourn was heritable, meaning it could be passed from father to son (or other legal heir).[18]

Who was the James Casbourn of the Award Book? According to my records, there was only one living adult named James Casbo[ur]n in the Meldreth area in 1820: James (1772-1833), the father of this post’s subject. As his only son, James, born in 1806, would almost certainly have been the heir and inheritor of the copyhold.

I don’t know this for a fact, and if correct, it still leaves the question of how and when the copyhold was granted to a member of the Casbon family. This information might be contained in the records of the (“Sheene”) manor, but I don’t have access to those records at this time.

James’ domestic life was shaken by tragedy when his second wife Susanna died in 1850. She was buried in Meldreth on March 29th of that year.[19] The cause of her death is unrecorded. By this time, two more daughters had been born: Sarah Sanders, born about 1844; and Fanny S., born about 1846.[20],[21] Once again, James was a single parent.

The next post will pick up where this one left off.

[1] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire), “Bishop’s transcripts for Meldreth, 1599-1862,” James Casbon baptism, 28 September 1806; browsable images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 5 November 2015).
[2] Parish of Steeple Morden (Cambridgeshire), “Bishop’s transcripts for Steeple-Morden, 1599-1855,” James Casbon – Ann Hitch marriage, 15 December 1827; browsable images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 August 2016).
[3] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire), Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877, Ann Carsbourn burial (1833); FHL microfilm 1,040,542.
[4] “Westminster Marriages”, images and transriptions, Findmypast ( : accessed 17 January 2017), James Casbon – Susanna Hayden Sanders (1834); citing City of Westminster Archives Centre.
[5] Fawne Stratford-Devai, “English & Welsh Roots – Parish Records in England and Wales,”, 11 June 1999 ( : accessed 19 January 2017), para. 17 [“1754”].
[6] 1841 Census of England and Wales, Cambridgeshire, Meldreth, p. 9 (stamped), James Casbon; image, Findmypast ( : accessed 4 August 2016); citing [The National Archives], HO 107, piece no. 63, Book no. 19, folio no. 9, p. 12.
[7] Guy Etchells, “Directions 1841: Respecting the manner in which Entries may be made in the Enumeration Schedule,” 2005; Rootsweb ( : accessed 19 January 2017), para. 11.
[8] “Hertfordshire Baptisms”, images and transcriptions, Findmypast (accessed 17 January 2017), Susnah Hayden Sanders (1808).
[9] “Agriculture and the Labourer,” Cambridgeshire History ( : accessed 19 January 2017), para. 31.
[10] “Agriculture and the Labourer,” Cambridgeshire History, para. 6.
[11] Etchells, “Directions 1841 … ,”Rootsweb, para. 15.
[12] Kathryn Betts, “Enclosure in Meldreth, 1820,” Meldreth History ( : accessed 19 January 2017).
[13] “Enclosure,” Wikipedia ( accessed 19 January 2017), rev. 06:32, 17 Jan 2017.
[14] Arnold Stanford, transcriber, “Inclosure Act 1820 Meldreth Award Book,” 2014; PDF, Meldreth History ( ; accessed 19 January 2017)
[15] “England Enclosure Records, Awards, Maps, Schedules (National Institute),” FamilySearch Wiki (,_Awards,_Maps,_Schedules_(National_Institute) : accessed 19 January 2017), rev. 20:38, 4 Sep 2014.
[16] Stanford, transcriber; “…Meldreth Award Book,” p. 12, James Casbourn Copyhold Allotment; Meldreth History.
[17] “Copyhold,” Wikipedia ( accessed 19 January 2017), rev. 13:47, 3 December 2016.
[18] “Copyhold,” Wikipedia.
[19] Meldreth parish (Cambridgeshire), Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877, Susannah Casbon burial (1850); FHL microfilm 1,040,542.
[20] “England & Wales births 1837-2006,” database, Findmypast ( : accessed 29 October 2015), birth entry for Sarah Casbon; citing Birth Registration, Royston, Hertfordshire, England, 2nd quarter, 1844, vol. 6, p. 610.
[21] “England & Wales births 1837-2006,” Findmypast (accessed 2 August 2016), birth entry for Fanny Casbon; citing Birth Registration, Royston, Hertfordshire, England, 1st quarter, 1846, vol. 6, p. 591.

Pursuing the Parkfield

Findmypast announces new additions to their record collections every Friday. This past Friday (January 13th) brought an unexpected surprise – a newspaper titled Lloyd’s List.

Lloyd’s List is one of the world’s oldest continuously running journals, having provided weekly shipping news in London as early as 1734. Known simply as The List, it was begun by the proprietor of Lloyd’s Coffee House in the City of London, England as a reliable and concise source of information for the merchants’ agents and insurance underwriters who met regularly in his establishment in Lombard Street to negotiate insurance coverage for trading vessels.[1]

I decided this would be a good opportunity to see if I could find the ship Parkfield that carried my third great grandfather Thomas and his family from England to America in 1846.

I mentioned the Parkfield in “From England to Indiana, Part 3.” I knew the ship’s name from this biography of Sylvester Casbon, published in 1912. [2]

Detail Sylvester bio H of Porter Co 1912
(Click on image to enlarge)

The information in this account gives the year incorrectly as 1847. This is not surprising considering that the biography was published 66 years after the fact.

I have previously searched the internet for information about the Parkfield, without success. Now, with the new Lloyd’s List archive on Findmypast, I had success right away – a modest one, I’ll admit. This is it.[3]

Parkfield Lloyds list 20 Apr 1846
Detail of Lloyd’s List, April 20, 1846, showing sailing dates, and ports of arrival and departure.
(Click on image to enlarge)

This small notice shows that the Parkfield departed Southampton, bound for Quebec, on April 18, 1846.

Emboldened by my success, I did some more searching in the Findmypast British Newspaper Archive and located this advertisement in the Hampshire Advertiser of March 28, 1846.

Parkfield ad 28Mar1846 Hampshire Advertiser
“Shipping. Emigration to Canada,” The (Southampton) Hampshire (U.K.) Advertiser, vol. 23, no. 1181, p. 1, col. 1, 28 Mar 1846; online images, British Newspaper Archive—Findmypast ( : accessed 13 January 2017)
(Click on image to enlarge)

EMIGRATION TO CANADA.—fine ship PARKFIELD, of 700 Tons burden, Captain Smith, will embark Passengers in the Southampton Docks, on Thursday, the 16th of April.
This Ship has been employed regularly in the East India Passenger trade, and has a roomy poop and other very superior accommodations for all classes of passengers, and will carry an experienced Surgeon.

These two newspaper items did not add a lot to what I already knew, but they validate my other sources and tell us a little more about the ship. I think the description of the ship as a “Canadian Lumber Boat” in Sylvester Casbon’s biography is probably inaccurate, given the fact that it was “employed regularly in the East India Passenger trade.”

The one item I would most like to have concerning Thomas Casbon’s voyage is a copy of the Parkfield’s passenger manifest. Unfortunately, it still eludes me!

As a postscript, I decided to check Lloyd’s List for the ship taken by Thomas’ brother James in 1870. As I reported in “James Casbon of Meldreth, England and Porter County, Indiana,” James arrived in New York from Liverpool, England, on December 27, 1870, on the ship Great Western. Armed with this information, it was easy to find the record of the Great Western’s departure from Liverpool on November 11, 1870.[4]

Ship Great Western depart LPool 11 Nov 1870
(Click on image to enlarge)

I was able to learn a little more about the Great Western. There were several ships of that name in the 1800s. The most famous was the Great Western of 1837, the first steamship designed for transatlantic travel. This ship carried passengers to New York for many years, and was taken out of service in 1856.[5] Another Great Western was built in 1872, and was wrecked on Long Island in 1876.[6] Based on their dates of operation, neither one of these could have been the ship taken by James Casbon in 1870. That ship was almost certainly The Great Western of the Black Ball Line, built 1851 in New York. The Black Ball line was a well-known passenger company of the 19th century. It continued to operate into the 1880s. Unlike its namesakes, this Great Western was a sailing ship, not a steamship.[7]

[1] Cox, Alex (12 Jan 2017), “Findmypast Friday”. Findmypast Blog ( : accessed January 15 2017).
[2] History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), v.2, pp. 482-3; digital images, Hathi Trust Digital Library ( : accessed 20 August 2016).
[3] Lloyd’s List (London), No. 10,014, p. 1, col. 3, 20 April 1846, Parkfield sailing, 18 Apr 1846; online images, Findmypast ( : accessed 13 January 2017), British Newspapers 1710-1953.
[4] “Home Ports,” Lloyd’s List (London), No. 17,651, p. 4, col. 7, 12 Nov 1870, Great Western sailing, 11 Nov 1870; Findmypast ( : accessed 13 January 2017), British Newspapers 1710-1953.
[5] “Ship Descriptions–G…Great Western 1837,” The Ships List ( : accessed 14 January 2017)
[6] “Ship Descriptions–G…Great Western 1872,” The Ships List.
[7] “Black Ball Line (trans-Atlantic packet),” Wikipedia ( : accessed 15 January 2017), rev 13:42, 3 Nov 16.