In the course of my web ‘wanderings’ I came across these two items.
The first item is from a Washington, D.C. “Descriptive catalogue of new, rare and beautiful plants, dahlias, chrysanthemums, geraniums, fuchsias, carnations, verbenas, phloxes, &c. for spring, 1871.” The Charley Casbon flower described is listed under “New Zonale and Nosegay Geraniums” that “comprise the very finest of their classes, sent out by the best growers in England and the Continent.” Charley (or Charlie) Casbon is mentioned in a variety of English gardening journals published between 1870 and 1876.
The second item is a series of advertisements from “CASBON Florist” and “T. CASBON” from an 1888 gardening magazine. Such ads are common, mainly in the 1880s, although references to “Messrs. Casbon & Son, Peterborough,” Nurserymen, can be found as early as 1866. Clearly there was a well-established family business in Peterborough, an important city in Northamptonshire (since then it has become part of Cambridgeshire).
These two items will serve to introduce another family with the Casbon surname. I’ll call them the ‘Peterborough Casbons.’ As far as I can tell, there is no relation to my own family (the ‘Meldreth Casbons’). As can be seen, the Peterborough Casbons were a family of gardeners and florists. It’s tempting to believe that they were responsible for developing the Charley Casbon flower. I’m afraid I can’t say for sure, but later I’ll provide some evidence that supports the theory.
The Casbon name doesn’t appear in Peterborough until the 1850s. The family originated in Littleport, a large village near the cathedral city of Ely in Cambridgeshire. In Littleport, the surname is almost always spelled with an “r” before the “n” – Casborn, Casbourn, Caseborn, Casebourne, etc. Records of the family in Littleport go back to the early 1600s.
Use this interactive map to visit locations mentioned in this post
Generation 1. Thomas Casborn (1776-1855)
I’m numbering each generation, to make things simpler to follow. As you’ll see, each generation has a Thomas, and it’s easy to get them confused. I’ll start with this Thomas, because he was: 1) the one who left Littleport and started the journey that eventually led to Peterborough; and 2) the first member of the family known to be a professional gardener.
Thomas Casborn was born about 1776 in Littleport, and baptized in 1778, the son of Thomas (yes, another one!) and Mary (nee Diamond). He married Ann Dolby in 1800 and had five children between the years 1800 and 1808. Two of the children, Mary and Thomas, died in early childhood, and as was the custom, the next girl and boy born after their deaths were given their names. The three surviving children were Mary (b. abt. 1802), Thomas (b. abt. 1807), and Elizabeth (b. abt. 1808)
Sometime after 1808, Thomas left Littleport. The next record I have is the 1841 England and Wales Census. At that time, Thomas, his wife Ann, and daughter Elizabeth were all living in Needingworth, a small village in Huntingdonshire, about 20 miles southwest of Littleport.
This census is also noteworthy because it lists Thomas’ occupation as Gardener.
Thomas died in 1855. I have no further confirmed records of daughters Mary or Elizabeth.
Generation 2. Thomas Casbourn (about 1807-1863)
Thomas, the son born in Littleport about 1807, also became a gardener. By 1841, he was married to Jane (surname unknown) and had three children: John (b. abt 1832), Sarah (b. abt. 1834), and Thomas (b. abt. 1840). At that time Thomas and his family were living in Warboys, about 6 miles from his parents in Needingworth.
By 1851, Thomas and his family had moved to Peterborough. His name is misspelled as Gasborn in the 1851 census.
This is the earliest record of the Casbon family in Peterborough. Thomas, Jane, and son Thomas also appear in the 1861 census, where he is listed as a “Nurseryman.” The elder Thomas died 1863 in Peterborough. Jane appears in the 1871 census, living with her daughter Sarah, now married to a man named Richard Baker. Jane died in 1874. Oddly, I have been unable to find any other record of Thomas the son, after the 1861 census.
With the move to Peterborough, the Casbon gardening business finally had a home. I leave you with this entry from this 1854 post office directory.
The next post will pick up where we left off, beginning with Generation 3.