“Rags” to Riches

This article appeared in the October 19, 1951 edition of The (Melbourne, Australia) Argus.[1]

Casben Wilfred Rags to Riches
(Click on image to enlarge)

“Mr. W. A. Casben” is Wilfred Arthur Ackerman Casben, eldest son of Arthur Casben (1886–1961). We were briefly introduced to Wilfred in “Australia Bound,” an earlier post describing Arthur’s origins in England and his emigration to Australia. I’ve had little to say about this branch of the family, as there is relatively little information available online (and I don’t have any plans to make the trek “down under” anytime soon!), but I will continue to post as information becomes available to me. Wilfred is my fourth cousin, twice removed, based on our common ancestor, Thomas Casbon (1743–1799).

Here’s what I know about Wilfred Arthur.

He was born in England March 2, 1911 and baptized at Christ Church, Mitcham, Surrey on June 4th of that year.[2]

Wilfred baptism 1911
Detail from Christ Church, Mitcham, Surrey baptismal register. (Click on image to enlarge)

He was only 3 years old when he boarded the steam ship Themistocles in London, April, 1914, with his mother Leonora and 1-year old brother Noel, bound for Australia.[3] Wilfred’s father Arthur had preceded them six months earlier, working as a crew member aboard the ship Miltiades.[4]

In 1935, Wilfred was listed on electoral rolls, living in Bankstown North (a suburb of Sydney), and employed as a shop assistant.[5]  In 1939, about the time he decided to start his own sportswear company, he became engaged to Florence Still.[6] They were married a year later.[7]

Casben WA Florence Still engagement announcement 1939
The engagement announcement of Miss Florence (“Phipp”) Still.
(Click on image to enlarge)

Florence and Wilfred went by the nicknames “Phipp” and “Cas.” They had at least four children that I know of (names withheld out of respect for privacy), and have living grandchildren today. I have not located records of Wilfred’s or Florence’s deaths; however, they would be well over 100 years old if still living.

I don’t have much more information about Wilfred or the company that he founded. It’s clear that he had a vision, and was able to turn it into a highly successful venture. It must have taken a good deal of courage and a lot of hard work to make it happen.

Based on what’s available on Google, the clothing company’s heyday was from the late 1940s through at least the 1960s (see “Friday Fun: 1968 Casben Shorts Ad”). Here is another colorful advertisement, from 1954.[8]

Casben ad 19Nov1954 AusWomWkly
(Click on image to enlarge)

I have not made contact with any of the Australia Casbens. However, this blog gets occasional visits from Australia, so I suspect someone in the family is reading it. I welcome comments, either through the comments section below this post, or through the Contacts link.

[1] “’Rags’ to Riches,” The (Melbourne, Australia) Argus, 19 Oct 1951, p. 3, col. 1; image copy, Trove (http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23086750 : accessed 5 October 2016).
[2] “Surrey, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912,” Christ Church Mitcham, Southwark diocese, Wilfred Arthur Ackerman Casben, b. 2 Mar 1911, baptized 4 Jun 1911; database with images, Ancestry Library Edition (accessed through participating libraries : accessed 17 February 2017); citing parish registers, Surrey History Centre, Woking.
[3] “Passenger Lists leaving UK 1890-1960,” images and transcriptions, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=tna%2fbt27%2f0846000031%2f00370 : accessed 6 October 2016), entry for Mrs Lenora Casben (age 26,) departing London, 2 Apr 1914 for Brisbane aboard Themistocles.
[4] “New South Wales unassisted passenger lists”, images and transcriptions, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=anz%2fnsw%2fpass%2funasst%2f06568718 : accessed 11 December 2016), entry for Arthur Casben, arrived at Sydney, New South Wales, 23 Oct 1913 aboard T S S Miltiades.
[5] “Australia Electoral Rolls,” images and transcriptions, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=au%2felectoralroll%2f323%2f001807930 : accessed 8 June 2017), Wilfred Arthur Ackerman Casben, 84 Waterloo Road, Bankstown North, New South Wales.
[6] “Engagement Announced,” The Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, 15 Feb 1939, p. 8, col. 4; image copy, Trove (http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17543390 : accessed 5 October 2016).
[7] “New South Wales Marriages 1788-1945,” Sydney, reg. no. 376, Wilfred Arthur Ackerman & Florence Amelia Still, 1940; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=anz%2fbmd%2fnsw%2fm%2f0002643832 : accessed 6 October 2016).
[8] Casben “Swim N’ Play” advertisement, Australian Women’s Weekly, 10 Nov 1954, p. 62; image copy, Trove (http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page5791063 : accessed 9 June 2017).

3 thoughts on ““Rags” to Riches

  1. Australia seems to have stricter rules about release of vital records than the other countries I’ve researched. Also, I just learned that all census data is destroyed after statistical information is gathered. That doesn’t leave me much aside from the odd newspaper clipping or older records (early 20th century). They definitely look like they’re having fun in the ad!


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