This is the third and final post in a series about the children of John Casbon (1779–1813) and his wife Martha (Wagstaff; 1775–1855). Today I’ll focus on Edith, the third child. Edith was born October 9, 1808, and baptized one month later in the tiny village of Whaddon, Cambridgeshire. Whaddon is about 1.5 miles west of Meldreth.
Detail from Whaddon parish register, 1808: “Edith Daughter of John Casbourne and Martha his
wife late Mart Wagstaff baptized privately Novr 9th born Octr 9th.” (Click on image to enlarge)
It’s interesting to me that neither Jane, William nor Edith were born or baptized in Meldreth proper. There is no clue in the records as to what their father John was doing in Royston or Whaddon. By the time of his death in 1813, they were living in Meldreth.
I know more about the man Edith married than I do about Edith herself. His name was Nehemiah Sell, of nearby Bassingbourn, and they were married in 1829.
Marriage record of Nehemiah Sell & Edith Casbourn, February 13, 1829, from Meldreth parish register.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Both Nehemiah and Edith signed with their marks, as did the two witnesses, one of whom was her brother William.
Nehemiah was a man who managed to get into the local news, and not in a good way. This article appeared in the September 12, 1835 Huntingdon, Bedford, & Peterborough Gazette.
The Grand Jury returned a verdict of “No Bill,” meaning there was insufficient evidence for a conviction. However, Nehemiah didn’t stay out of trouble for long. He was suspected of being an accomplice in the theft of a sheep in 1837. In 1839 he was convicted to 3 months hard labor for stealing wheat.
Meanwhile, Edith and Nehemiah had a growing family. By 1840 they had five children: Martha, Eliza, Ann Edith, John, and Mary Ann.,,,, The 1841 census shows Edith and the surviving four children. Where was Nehemiah? Another son, Nehemiah William, was born in 1843.
Then, in 1845, Nehemiah was caught in the act of committing a vicious crime, as reported in the April 12, 1845 Ipswich Journal.
He was tried and convicted of assault with intent to murder, and sentenced to be transported for 15 years.
Details of Nehemiah Sell’s trial and conviction,
from The Ipswich Journal. (Click on image to enlarge)
He was initially transported to Norfolk Island, a penal colony almost 900 miles east of the Australian mainland (and home of the Norfolk Pine!), and later moved to Tasmania, a large island south of Australia, then known as Van Diemand’s Land. ,, He was eventually granted a conditional pardon, and married a woman named Ann Ferguson in 1854., Nehemiah stated truthfully (whether he realized it or not) to local officials that he was a widower when he married Ann. I don’t think he ever returned to England.
What happened to Edith after Nehemiah was convicted and sent away? Life could only have been difficult for a poor single mother with a large family. The 1851 census shows that she was listed as a “widow,” living on Dolphin Lane in Melbourn and working as a “hawker of fruit.”
The work probably brought in a little income, but I doubt that it was enough to support her large family. Maybe she got some help from her two siblings and her adult children.
The observant reader might have noticed something else in the 1851 census. Two of the children, Charles (“Chas”) and George, were born after Nehemiah’s transportation to Norfolk Island. Their baptisms were recorded along with those of Mary Ann and Nehemiah William in 1854. 
Detail from Melbourn parish register, showing baptisms of Mary Ann (age 13), Nehemiah
William (age 11), Charles (age 7), and George (age 4) in 1854. (Click on image to enlarge)
Nehemiah is listed as the father of Mary Ann and Nehemiah William in the baptismal register, while no father is listed for Chas or George.
The timing of this baptism is interesting as well. The four children were baptized together on February 21, 1854. This was the day after their mother Edith’s burial at Melbourn. She was 46 years old when she died. Her five minor children, ranging in age from 4 to 15, were suddenly orphaned. Someone must have deemed it vital that their souls be saved in light of their mother’s death.
What became of the children? Eldest daughter Martha had already married in 1848. Her younger brother (Nehemiah) William was living with her in 1861 and working as a railway porter. Aside from these two, I haven’t been able to trace the other children. Maybe one of Edith and/or Nehemiah’s descendants will see this post someday and give me an update.