George Casbon – A Canadian Mystery

One day, while doing research, I came upon this passenger’s manifest of a ship bound for Quebec, Canada, from Liverpool, England.[1]

George Casbon b 1914 Canada passenger list 1929
Detail from passenger list of the Duchess of Atholl, departing Liverpool, England 20 September 1929.
(Click on image to enlarge)

I’ve underlined information pertaining to George Casbon, age 15. His last address in the United Kingdom is listed as “c/o Dr. Barnardo’s Homes, Myrtle St,L’pool.” Note also that many of the names above his come from “c/o Catholic Emigration, Coleshill,B’ham.” Under column 6, George’s occupation is listed as “farming.”

My curiosity aroused, I consulted my old friend Google, to see what I could find out about Dr Barnardo’s Homes. This search revealed a very interesting and troubling chapter in England’s social history.

Barnardo’s is a charitable organization founded by Thomas John Barnardo in 1866.[2] Barnardo initially started a home for destitute boys in London.[3] Over time, he opened residential homes throughout the United Kingdom.[4] Children were taken in for variety of reasons; they might be orphans, victims of abuse, illegitimate, or just the children of families who could not afford to care for them.[5] The charity is still in operation, and reputed to be the UK’s largest children’s charity.[6]

The controversial and troubling part of Barnardo’s history is its role in the emigration of children to other British Commonwealth countries. A law was passed in 1850 allowing children in workhouses to be sent to Canada.[7] Eventually, 130,000 children were sent to Commonwealth countries, the majority going to Canada.[8] These children are now known as British Home Children. One website claims that more than 10 percent of Canada’s population today is descended from British Home Children.[9]

Barnardo’s was only one of many organizations – including the Salvation Army and the Church of England (and “Catholic Emigration,” as noted in the passenger list above)—that participated in the child migration program.[10] Although based largely on good intentions, i.e., to give the children “a better life,” the program was also a convenient solution to the strain on resources caused by vast numbers of children receiving support from these charitable organizations.[11] From a social policy standpoint, it was similar to the practice of transporting convicted criminals to Commonwealth lands.

Children were sent to households and farms throughout Canada.[12] While many of the children developed lasting relationships with their new families, others were treated as cheap labor, or were subject to abuse.[13] They were often stigmatized by the local communities.[14] Sometimes children were sent from the UK without their parents’ knowledge or consent, and upon arrival siblings were often separated.[15]

After being told fanciful tales of travel to the ‘Land of Milk and Honey’, where children ride to school on horseback, child migrants were sent abroad without passports, social histories or even basic documents such as a full birth certificate. Brothers and sisters were frequently separated for most of their childhood; some were loaded onto trucks for long journeys to remote institutions, only to be put to work as labourers the next day. Many felt an extreme sense of rejection by their family and country of origin. Others felt like characters from Kafka’s novels; their punishment was obvious—exile from their family and homeland—but the nature of their crime was a complete mystery.[16]

The emigration program began to taper off in Canada after the Second World War, but continued in Australia into the 1970s.[17] Many of the participating agencies and countries now recognize the suffering and negative consequences endured by large numbers of children, and have expressed regret or offered official apologies to the victims.[18]

What was George Casbon’s experience? There really isn’t enough information to know. I have very few records to go by. Perhaps it’s appropriate that he is “unconnected” in my family tree, meaning I don’t know who his parents are or how he is related to the other Casbon branches.

George Casbon b 1914 Canada immigration list 1929
Detail from list of passengers arriving in Quebec on the Duchess of Atholl 28 September 1929.[19]
(Click on image to enlarge)

This is the Canadian immigration record of George’s arrival. Under the title for column 7, Country and Place of Birth, is typed “Dr. Barnardos Party.” In George’s entry for the same column, “London” has been lined through and replaced with “Penge.” Penge is a suburb of south-east London.[20] Using George’s age, I was able to find an entry for George Casbon’s birth during the second quarter (April-June) of 1914, registered in Croydon, Surrey.[21] Penge was included in the Croydon Registration District at that time, so this is almost certainly the same George Casbon.[22]

The birth index lists his mother’s last name as “Casbon,” suggesting that she was unwed at the time of his birth.[23] This might explain the reason George came to be one of “Dr. Barnardo’s children.” I don’t know the mother’s first name, although I have located at least one candidate in my records who was unmarried, of childbearing age, and who lived in Croydon her entire life. I would need to obtain the actual birth record (not the index) to (possibly) confirm her name.

Column 19 of the immigration record tells us that George intended to follow the occupation of “Farming” in Canada. In Column 21 the words “Mother, (address unknown)” are lined through and replaced with what looks like “Myrtle Liverpool.” At first I thought this meant George’s mother’s name was Myrtle and that she lived in Liverpool. However, I remembered that this is simply his last address in the UK, noted in the ship’s manifest at the top of this post. There was a Barnardo’s Home on Myrtle Street in Liverpool.[24] Here is an image of the building as it looks today, from Google Street View.


The Canadian offices of Dr. Barnardo’s Homes used to publish a quarterly magazine titled Ups and Downs.[25] The magazine sometimes highlighted children who had recently arrived from the UK. George was mentioned in the January, 1930 edition.

“George Casbon records his first impression of his farm life:—

I was met at the station when I arrived by the farmer, and another Barnardo boy. He took me to a fowl supper, then he took me to his house. The following Sunday he took me to a duck roast. He is giving me good education on farming. I like this place very much and I should like to stay here. [26]

After his arrival, George’s workplaces were visited periodically by Immigration officials, who kept a “report card” of his status.[27] Here is George’s card.

George Casbon b1914 Canada Juv Insp rep card
(Click on image to enlarge)

This card gives a lot of useful information. His birthdate is given as “11/6/14.” In British English, this means June 11th, 1914 (not November 6th, as we would read it in the U.S.). This date gives further confirmation that he is the same George Casbon whose birth was registered at Croydon in 1914. The report card gives the dates of inspections; grades for “Character of Home”, “Health”, “Satisfaction Given” and “Child’s Character”; “Terms” (what George was being paid); and the name and address of his employer. The record goes from February, 1930 to September, 1933. On the latter date, he was listed as “not here … address unknown … completed … presumed to have left for Toronto.” It is evident that he had a number of different employers who were generally satisfied with his character and performance.

This is the last record that I can link to George with certainty. I’ve been able to find later entries for George Casbon listed at one point as a farmer and at another as a lorry driver. I’ve also found a cemetery record for George William Casbon, born in England, date unknown, and died September 24, 1966 in Toronto.[28] I think it’s very likely these are all the same person, but don’t have the records to confirm it. It would be great if I could link him up to the family tree at some point. If any of his descendants should happen to read this, please contact me.

[1] “Passenger Lists leaving UK 1890-1960,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=tna%2fbt27%2f1239000082%2f00534 : accessed 6 October 2016), George Casbon, age 15, departed Liverpool 22 Sep 1929 aboard the Duchess of Atholl; citing The National Archives, BT 27.
[2] “Barnardo’s,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnardo%27s : accessed 17 April 2017), rev. 10 Apr 17, 11:41.
[3] “Barnardo’s Children,” p. 3, PDF download, Barnardo’s (http://www.barnardos.org.uk/barnardo_s_children_v2.pdf : accessed 17 April 2017).
[4] “Barnardo’s Children,” p. 6.
[5] “Barnardo’s Children,” pp. 6-7.
[6] “Barnardo’s,” Wikipedia.
[7] “Barnardo’s Children,” p. 8.
[8] “Child Migration History,” Child Migrants Trust (http://www.childmigrantstrust.com/our-work/child-migration-history/ : accessed 17 April 2017).
[9] “Who Are the British Home Children,” 2017, para. 16, British Home Child Group International (http://britishhomechild.com/history/ : accessed 17 April 2017).
[10] “Who Are the British Home Children,” para. 5.
[11] “Who Are the British Home Children,” para. 6.
[12] “Who Are the British Home Children,” para. 8.
[13] “Who Are the British Home Children,” para. 9.
[14] “Who Are the British Home Children,” para. 11.
[15] “Who Are the British Home Children,” paras. 7, 9.
[16] “Child Migration History,” Child Migrants Trust.
[17] “Who Are the British Home Children,” para. 15.
[18] “Martin Narey’s response to Gordon Brown’s apology to child migrants,” Barnardo’s (http://www.barnardos.org.uk/what_we_do/our_history/working_with_former_barnardos_children/child_migration/childmigration_response.htm : accessed 17 April 2017).
[19] “Passenger Lists: Quebec City (1925-1935),” page 566 of 628, digital images, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/microform-digitization/006003-119.01-e.php?PHPSESSID=pgu74hjaupu9qmj7ao9j21gtb3&sqn=566&q2=12&q3=911&tt=628 : accessed 7 October 2016), entry for George Casbon, age 15, aboard the Duchess of Atholl, arriving at Quebec 28 Sep 1929; citing LAC microfilm T-14760.
[20] “Penge,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penge : accessed 18 April 2017), rev. 9 Apr 17, 18:12.
[21] “England & Wales Births 1837-2006”, Croydon, Surrey, vol. 2A: 618, entry for George Casbon, 2d quarter, 1914; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fb%2f1914%2f2%2faz%2f000255%2f096 : accessed 18 April 2017); citing General Register Office.
[22] “Croydon Registration District,” UK BMD Births, Marriages, Deaths and Censuses on the Internet (https://www.ukbmd.org.uk/reg/districts/croydon.html : accessed 17 April 2017).
[23] “England & Wales Births 1837-2006”, Croydon, Surrey, entry for George Casbon.
[24] “Sheltering Home for Destitute Children, Liverpool, Lancashire,” Children’s Homes (http://www.childrenshomes.org.uk/LiverpoolSheltering/ : accessed 18 April 2017).
[25] “The Dr. Barnardo Magazine Ups and Downs,” British Home Children in Canada (http://canadianbritishhomechildren.weebly.com/ups-and-downs-magazine.html : accessed 18 April 2017).
[26] Ups & Downs, vol. 32: 1, 5 Jan 1930, pp. 14-5; scanned image files received 11 Dec 2016 in email from John Sayers [email address for private use] (volunteer researcher for British Isles Family History Society of Ottawa, Canada) to Jon Casbon.
[27] “Department of Immigration: Juvenile Inspection Report Cards (ca. 1913–1932),” “About” tab, Héritage (http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_mikan_161388 : accessed 18 April 2017).
[28] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=82809107 : accessed 7 October 2016), memorial page for George William Casbon (unknown–1966), memorial no. 82809107, created by Mary Ireland; citing Sanctuary Park Cemetery, Etobicoke, Toronto Municipality, Ontario.

Cousins

Amos and Sina Casbon
Portrait of Amos James Casbon (1869–1956) and Sina Jane Casbon (1874–1952);
undated photo.

Thanks to Ron Casbon for contributing this portrait of Amos James and Sina Jane Casbon. Isn’t it lovely?

You would think from the photograph that they are either siblings or perhaps even engaged. Neither of these assumptions would be correct. They are first cousins, once removed. Amos was the son of James Casbon (about 1813–1884), while Sina Jane was the daughter of Charles Thomas Casbon (1840–1915). Their common ancestor was Isaac Casbon (about 1773–1825), who was the father of James and the grandfather of Charles Thomas. These relationships are illustrated in the diagram below.

Descendant Chart for Isaac Casbon

Although undated, based on their apparent ages, I would estimate that the photograph was taken in the late 1880s or early 1890s, when Amos would have been in his early twenties and Sina in her late teens. They are wearing their best clothing. It is clearly a studio portrait, and was probably photographed in Valparaiso, Indiana.

This portrait intrigues me because it suggests a certain level of friendship or intimacy between the two subjects. Aside from this photograph, there is no documentation that I know of that suggests any kind of relationship between them, other than their shared ancestry and location (Porter County). What is the significance of this portrait? Is it merely the commemoration of two cousins who were also friends? Might there have been an engagement? Perhaps I’m reading too much into this. If any of my readers know more, I hope they will comment.

These questions highlight a huge gap in the information available to me. The 1890 United States census records were destroyed in a fire. This means I have no information on Amos from the time he was 11 years old (1880) until he was 31 (1900). Likewise, I don’t know anything about Sina or her whereabouts between 1880 and 1910. I haven’t been able to locate an entry for her in the 1900 census; her parents are listed, but she is not with them. However, she was living with them in the 1910 census.[1]

Amos lost his father when he was 15 years old.[2] He and his stepmother probably received assistance from other family members, including Charles Thomas Casbon. Since he and Sina were fairly close in age, it’s not surprising that they would be friends. Amos went on to marry Carrie Belle Aylesworth in 1900, and they had a long and happy (as far as I know) marriage.[3] Sina Jane married Alfred Urbahns in 1915.[4]

So, what is a first cousin, once removed? I’ve always been confused by this terminology. Thankfully, my genealogy software (Family Tree Maker) tells me the relationships between any two people. Even so, it’s interesting to try to figure out.

Aside from siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, great grandparents or great aunts/uncles, etc., all of our other relatives are cousins of one kind or another. Therefore, many of the readers of this blog are my cousins, even if I’ve never met you.

Here are some definitions, from the Ancestor Search website:[5]

First Cousin. Your first cousin is a child of your aunt or uncle. You share one set of grandparents with your first cousin, but you do not have the same parents.

Second Cousin. Your second cousin is the grandchild of your great-aunt or great-uncle. You share one set of great-grandparents with your second cousin, but you do not have the same grandparents.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Cousins. Your third cousin is the great-grandchild of your great-great-aunt or great-great-uncle. You share a set of great-great-grandparents with your third cousin, but do not have the same great-grandparents. Fourth cousins have one set of great-great-great-grandparents, but not the same great-great-grandparents. And so on.

Double Cousins. If two siblings in one family marry two siblings from another family and each couple has a child, the children are double first cousins. The word double in addition to the first cousin term is because they share the same four grandparents. Regular first cousins share only one set of common grandparents, while double first cousins share both sets of grandparents plus all lineal and collateral relatives.

Removed. The relationships of cousins of different generations are explained by using the word “removed”. Cousins who are “once removed” have a one-generation difference. For example, the first cousin of your father is your first cousin, once removed. In that case, your father’s first cousin is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents. This one-generation difference is explained by saying that you are cousins “once removed.”. Removed cousin relationships is never measured by age, but only by generation differences.

Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference between cousins. If you are two generations younger than the first cousin of your grandparent, then the relationship between you and your grandparent’s first cousin are first cousins, twice removed.

Cousin relationships can be any combination of first, second, third and so on, with once removed, twice removed, and so on.

Looking back at the diagram earlier in this post, you can see that Amos James and Sina’s father, Charles Thomas, were first cousins, i.e., they had a shared set of grandparents (Isaac and his wife Susanna [not shown]). Sina is one generation farther away from Isaac, hence she is Amos’ first cousin, once removed.

Incidentally, since I also share Isaac as a common ancestor with Amos and Sina, that makes me a first cousin, four times removed, to Amos; and first cousin, three times removed, to Sina.

[1] “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RJV-K?cc=1727033&wc=QZZ7-QBL%3A133640401%2C141400701%2C133664001%2C1589089119 : accessed 30 October 2016), entry for Sina Casbon (age 35) in household of Charles Casbon; citing enumeration district 141, sheet 10A, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
[2] “Murder! That is What is Made out of the Case of Old Man Casbon,” The Porter County (Indiana) Vidette, 28 August 1884; photocopy of newspaper clipping, privately held by Ron D Casbon [Address for private use].
[3] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KDHQ-DK8 : accessed 21 January 2016), Amos J Casbon and Carrie B Aylesworth, 28 Nov 1900; citing Porter, Indiana, United States, various county clerk offices, Indiana; FHL microfilm 1,686,211.
[4] “Michigan Marriages, 1822-1995,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FCJ9-383 : accessed 13 April 2017), Alfred W. Urbahns & Sina Casbon, 14 Oct 1915; citing reference it 1, p. 318, no. 9890; FHL microfilm 1,320,183.
[5] “Cousin Calculator, Relationship Chart & Relationship Definitions,” Ancestor Search (http://www.searchforancestors.com/utility/cousincalculator.html : accessed 13 April 2017).

Jane, William and Edith, Part 3

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.[1] Whaddon is about 1.5 miles west of Meldreth.

Edith bp Whaddon 1808
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.[2]

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.[3]

Nehemiah Sell Edith Casbon marriage 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.[4]

Huntingdon Bedford PBoro Gazette 12Sep1835 N Sell arson
(Click on image to enlarge)

The Grand Jury returned a verdict of “No Bill,” meaning there was insufficient evidence for a conviction.[5] 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.[6] In 1839 he was convicted to 3 months hard labor for stealing wheat.[7]

Meanwhile, Edith and Nehemiah had a growing family. By 1840 they had five children: Martha, Eliza, Ann Edith, John, and Mary Ann.[8],[9],[10],[11],[12] The 1841 census shows Edith and the surviving four children.[13] Where was Nehemiah? Another son, Nehemiah William, was born in 1843.[14]

Edith 1841 census Melbourne]
Detail from 1841 census, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, England.
(Click on image to enlarge)

Then, in 1845, Nehemiah was caught in the act of committing a vicious crime, as reported in the April 12, 1845 Ipswich Journal.[15]

N Sell attempted murder 1845
(Click on image to enlarge)

He was tried and convicted of assault with intent to murder, and sentenced to be transported for 15 years.[16]

Ipswich Journal 2Aug1845 N Sell trial conviction
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. [17],[18], He was eventually granted a conditional pardon, and married a woman named Ann Ferguson in 1854.[19],[20] 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.”

Edith 1851 census Melbourne
Detail from 1851 census, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

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. [21]

4 baptisms 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.[22] 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.[23] Her younger brother (Nehemiah) William was living with her in 1861 and working as a railway porter.[24] 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.

[1] Parish of Whaddon (Cambridgeshire, England), “Baptisms, 1692-1876; burials, 1691-1812; marriages, 1692-1713, 1746-1878; banns, 1754-1812,” no page #, Edith Casbourne (born Oct 9) baptism, 9 Nov 1808; Family History Library (FHL) microfilm 1,04,0570, item 5.
[2] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” John Casbail burial, 3 Dec 1813; FHL microfilm 1,040,542.
[3] Parish of Meldreth, “Marriages 1813-37,” p. 20, Nehemiah Sell & Edith Casbourn, 13 Feb 1829; FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 8.
[4] “Town and County News … Commitments,” Huntingdon, Bedford, & Peterborough Gazette, Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 12 Sep 1835, p. 2, col. 2; imaged in “British Newspapers 1710-1953,” online archive, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/bna/ViewArticle?id=BL%2F0000417%2F18350912%2F010%2F0002&browse=true : accessed 19 December 2016).
[5] “Cambridgeshire Assizes … Crown Court,” The Huntingdon, Bedford, & Peterborough Gazette, etc., 19 Mar 1836, p. 2, col. 6; imaged in “British Newspapers 1710-1953,” online archive, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0000417%2f18360319%2f008 : accessed 9 April 2017).
[6] “Cambridgeshire Assizes … Prisoners – Thursday,” The Cambridge (England) Chronicle and Journal and Huntingdonshire Gazette, 27 Jul 1839, p. 2, col. 3; imaged in “British Newspapers 1710-1953,” online archive, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/bna/ViewArticle?id=BL%2F0000420%2F18390727%2F012%2F0002&browse=true : accessed 19 December 2016).
[7] “Cambridgeshire Sessions,” The Huntingdon, Bedford, & Peterborough Gazette, etc., 23 Feb 1839, p. 2, col. 7; imaged in “British Newspapers 1710-1953,” online archive, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/bna/ViewArticle?id=BL%2F0000417%2F18390223%2F029%2F0002&browse=true : accessed 6 April 2017).
[8] Parish of Meldreth, “Baptisms 1813-67,” p. 35, Martha Sell, 15 May 1831; FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 5.
[9] Parish of Bassingbourn (Cambridgeshire), “Baptisms 1813-32,” p. 25, Eliza Sell, 9 Sep 1832; FHL microfilm 1,040,367, item 14.
[10] Parish of Bassingbourn, “Baptisms 1833-57,” p. 25, Ann Sell, 13 Nov 1834; FHL microfilm  1,040,367, item 15.
[11] Parish of Bassingbourn, “Baptisms 1833-57,” p. 25, John Casbon Sell, birth July 1837, baptism 21 January 1837; FHL microfilm 1,040,367, item 15.
[12] Parish of Melbourn, “Baptisms 1841-71,” p. 51, Mary Anne Sell (age 13), 21 Feb 1854; FHL microfilm 1,040,541, item 4.
[13] “1841 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” Melbourn, Royston & Buntingford, Cambridgeshire; image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1841%2f0000941292 : accessed 20 December 2016), entry for Edith Sell (age 33); citing [The National Archives], HO 107, piece 63, book 15, folio 14, p. 23.
[14] Parish of Melbourn, “Baptisms 1841-71,” p. 51, Nehemiah William Sell (age 11), 21 Feb 1854; FHL microfilm 1,040,541, item 4.
[15] “Miscellaneous … Attempted Murder and Robbery,” The Ipswich Journal, and Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, and Cambridgeshire Advertiser, 12 Apr 1845, p. 3, col. 6; imaged in “British Newspapers 1710–1953,” online archive, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/bna/ViewArticle?id=BL%2F0000071%2F18450412%2F007%2F0003&browse=true : accessed 19 December 2016).
[16] “Suffolk Summer Assizes … Assault with Intent to Murder,” The Ipswich Journal, etc., 2 Aug 1845, p. 4, col. 4; imaged in “British Newspapers 1710–1953,” online archive, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/bna/ViewArticle?id=BL%2F0000071%2F18450802%2F012%2F0004&browse=true : accessed 19 December 2016).
[17] “Van Diemand’s Land,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Diemen%27s_Land : accessed 7 April 2017), rev. 30 Mar 17, 01:11.
[18] “Norfolk Island,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norfolk_Island#19th_century : accessed 7 April 2017), rev. 6 Apr 17, 12:22.
[19] “Record Search,” database with images, Tasmanian Government (Australia) LiNC (https://www.linc.tas.gov.au/Pages/Home.aspx : accessed 7 April 2017), entry for Nehemiah Sell, 1846 convict records; citing Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office series CON33, item CON33/1/87.
[20] “Record Search,” database with images, Tasmanian Government (Australia) LiNC (accessed 7 April 2017), Nehemiah Sell & Ann Ferguson marriage, 8°May 1854; citing Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office, resource RGD37/1/13, no. 108.
[21] Parish of Melbourn, “Baptisms 1841-71,” p. 51, Charles Sell (age 7) & George Sell (age 4), FHL microfilm 1,040,541, item 4.
[22] Cambridge Family History Society, “Melbourn Burials 1739–1950,” PDF transcription, p. 44, Edith Sell (age 47), 20 Feb 1854; citing Melbourn parish registers.
[23] “England Marriages, 1538–1973 ,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N2Q6-5TY : accessed 8 April 2017), William Camp and Martha Sell, 29 Dec 1848; citing Melbourn, Cambridge, England, FHL microfilm 990,296.
[24] Barrington Road, Foxton, Royston, Hertfordshire; image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1861%2f0005023711 : accessed 9 April 2017), entry for William Sell (age 18) in household of William Camp; citing [The National Archives], enumeration district 7, RG 09, piece 814 folio 105, p. 15.

Jane, William and Edith, Part 2

This is the second post in a series about the three children of John Casbon (1779–1813) and his wife Martha (Wagstaff, 1775–1855). Their second child was William. His birth date is not recorded, but he was baptized in Royston, Hertfordshire on Christmas day, 1805, so he was probably born earlier that same year.[1] William is an important part of Our Casbon Journey because his children went on to have large families. William is the common ancestor of many of today’s living Casbans and Casbens.

Wm Casbon Bp 1805 Royston
Page from Royston, Hertfordshire parish register, Baptisms, 1805. (Click on image to enlarge)

As I mentioned in the previous post, William’s father died in 1813, and his mother remarried in 1815, leading to a larger blended family consisting of William, his two sisters, several half-brothers and a half-sister. With the high mortality rates of the time, such families were common, as there were generally quite a few young widows and widowers looking for new partners to provide financial and domestic support.

William became an Agricultural Labourer and lived in Meldreth his entire life. He married Ann Clark in Meldreth October, 1831.[2]

William C Ann Clark M Meld 1831
Detail from Meldreth parish register, 1831. (Click on image to enlarge)

Both William and Ann signed the marriage register with their marks, indicating they could not write proficiently. This is also true of the two witnesses, Nehemiah Sell and Jane Casbon. Nehemiah Sell was the husband of William’s younger sister Edith, and Jane was William’s older sister. Thus, the marriage record is a reminder of the importance of family ties. William and Ann had seven children, all of whom survived into adulthood. Here is a brief summary:

  • Mary Ann, born about 1831;[3] listed as servant, 1851 census;[4] married Joseph Sparrow 1875 in Middlesex, England;[5] probably died 1887.[6]

  • Edith, baptized 1835, Meldreth;[7] listed as servant, 1851 census;[8] married William Catley 1860 in Meldreth;[9] buried 1916 in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire.[10]

  • Jane, baptized 1840, Meldreth;[11] married John Camp 1881;[12] died 1904.[13]

  • Martha, baptized 1855, Meldreth;[17] never married; held various jobs in domestic service; buried 1947 in Melbourn.[18]

William’s wife Ann died in 1869 and was buried in Meldreth.[19] The 1871 census shows William as a widower, living with daughter Jane and son Samuel Clark.[20]

William C b1805 1871 census
Page from 1871 census, Meldreth, Cambridgeshire. It’s tempting to think that the man boarding with them, William Clark, widower, is related to William Casbon’s deceased wife Ann, but there isn’t enough information to prove a connection. (Click on image to enlarge)

William died and was buried in Meldreth in either 1875 or 1877.[21],[22] The date is uncertain because there were two William Casbons, born a year apart, and I can’t be certain which one died when.

[1] “Hertfordshire Baptisms,” images and transcriptions, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fb%2f71142327%2f1 : accessed 29 March 2017), William Casburn, 25 Dec 1805; citing Hertfordshire Record Office, Royston Parish Register, Baptisms 1662—1812, Marriages 1662—1754, Burials 1662–1678.
[2] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” William Casbourn & Ann Clark marriage, 22 Oct 1831; Family History Library microfilm 1,040,542.
[3] “1851 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” Church Lane, Melbourn, Royston, Hertfordshire; image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1851%2f0006953665 : accessed 30 March 2017), entry for Mary Casbon (age 20) in household of John Campkin; citing [The National Archives], HO 107, piece 1708, folio 177, p. 3.
[4] “1851 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” findmypast, entry for Mary Casbon.
[5] “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921,” Parish of St Lukes, Middlesex, Joseph Sparrow & Mary Ann Casbon, 26 Dec 1865; images and transcriptions, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 August 2016); citing Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1921, London Metropolitan Archives, London.
[6] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007,” Camberwell, London, vol. 1D: 547; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fd%2f1887%2f3%2faz%2f000312%2f293 : accessed 30 March 2017), Mary Ann Sparrow (age 56), 3d quarter, 1887.
[7] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Edith Casbon baptism, 29 Mar 1835; Family History Library microfilm 1,040,542.
[8] “1851 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” High Street, Whaddon, Royston, Hertfordshire; image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1851%2f0006949462 : accessed 30 March 2017), Edith Casbon in household of Elizabeth Bell; citing citing [The National Archives], HO 107, piece 1708, folio 34, p. 15.
[9] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” William Catley & Edith Casbon marriage, 13 October 1860; Family History Library microfilm 1,040,542.
[10] Cambridge Family History Society, “Melbourn Burials 1739–1950,” p. 64; transcription, 1916, May 22, Catley, Edith (age 84).
[11] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Jane Casbon baptism, 29 Nov 1840; Family History Library microfilm 1,040,542.
[12] “England & Wales Marriages 1837-2008,” Royston, Hertfordshire, vol. 3A: 323; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fm%2f1881%2f1%2faz%2f000038%2f142 : accessed 30 March 2017), John Camp [and Jane Casbon], 1st quarter, 1881.
[13] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007”, Royston, Hertfordshire, vol. 3A: 299; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fd%2f1904%2f2%2faz%2f000053%2f347 : accessed 30 March 2017), Jane Camp (age 64), 2d quarter, 1904.
[14] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” John Casbon baptism, 16 Jul 1847 (born 2 Jun 1847); Family History Library microfilm 1,040,542.
[15] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Reuben Casbon baptism, 25 Jul 1847 (born 2 Jun 1847); Family History Library microfilm 1,040,542.
[16] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Samuel Clark Casbon baptism, 15 Feb 1852; Family History Library microfilm 1,040,542.
[17] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Martha Casbon baptism, 26 Aug 1855; Family History Library microfilm 1,040,542.
[18] Cambridge Family History Society, “Melbourn Burials 1739–1950,” p. 73; transcription, 1947, Jan 19, Casbon, Martha (age 91).
[19] “Cambridgeshire Burials,” Meldreth, Cambridgeshire; transcription (Cambridge Family History Society), findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fd%2f403420207%2f1 : accessed 31 March 2017), Ann Casbon (age 59), 3 Oct 1869.
[20] “1871 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” High Street, Meldreth, Royston, Hertfordshire; image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1871%2f0016454370 : accessed 27 March 2017), William Casbon (age 65); citing [The National Archives], RG 10, piece 1363, folio 25, p. 21.
[21] “Cambridgeshire Burials,” Meldreth, Cambridgeshire; transcription (Cambridgeshire Family History Society), findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fd%2f403420272%2f1 : accessed 31 March 2017), William Casbon (age 69), 11 Oct 1875.
[22] “Cambridgeshire Burials,” Meldreth, Cambridgeshire; transcription (Cambridge Family History Society), findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fd%2f403420286%2f1 : accessed 31 March 2017), William Casbon (age 77), 8 May 1877.

Jane, William and Edith, Part 1

I would like to preface this post with these definitions:

Genealogy – a study of family ancestors with pertinent data such as birth, marriage and death dates.
Family History – an in-depth study of a family lineage with greater emphasis and clarification of each ancestor’s life story.[1]

Hopefully my readers will agree that this blog leans more towards the family history definition than that of genealogy. Not that I intend to demean genealogy in any way. Genealogy research is the tool I use to get the facts needed to write about our family history. The dates and events are important – and sometimes the only information I have. But what I really want to do is to understand and describe our ancestors’ lives and the world they lived in.

Which leads me to the discussion of siblings. A strict genealogical approach would emphasize direct ancestors – parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. Siblings might be mentioned, but probably not explored in depth. There’s nothing wrong with that approach, but I think it restricts the ability to understand our ancestors’ lives. If you think about your own relatives – brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents – they all relate in some way to your concept of family and how you fit into that family. It must have been the same for our ancestors. For this reason, it’s important to me to look beyond my own direct ancestors and find out more about their extended families.

The late 18th century and early 19th century was an especially rich time when it comes to Casbon families in the Meldreth, Cambridgeshire area. My fifth great-grandfather Thomas Casbon (1843–1799) and his wife Jane (Wilson, 1741–1831) had seven children, four of whom survived into adulthood and had families of their own. These were: James (1772–1833), Isaac (1773–1825), Thomas (1775–1820), and John (1779–1813). Each of them had three or more children who lived beyond childhood, and each of them continued to live and work in the Meldreth area.

My point is this: by the early 1800s, Meldreth was teeming with Casbons. There were siblings and cousins galore. They must have had at least passing acquaintance with one another.

So, after this admittedly roundabout introduction, I’ll finally get to the real subject of today’s post. This is the first in a 3-part series about 3 siblings: Jane, William, and Edith Casbon, the children of John and Martha (Wagstaff) Casbon. John and Martha were each the subjects of earlier posts (“John Casbon of Meldreth & Royston (~1779-1813)” and “Martha = Patty”). Today I’m focusing on their first child, Jane.

Jane was born in Royston, Hertfordshire, probably in 1803, and was baptized November 27th of that year.[2]

Jane Casburn Bp Royston 1803
Detail from Royston parish registers, 1803. (Click on image to enlarge)

She was 10 years old and the oldest of the three children when her father died at Meldreth in 1813.[3] Given the social and economic conditions of the time, it probably would have been necessary for her to help support the family in some manner, but there is no record of this. Things would have improved when her mother married Samuel Barnes in 1815.[4] Jane and her siblings gained 4 half-brothers and one half-sister, ranging in age from 8 to 20 years old.

Jane never married. In the 1841 census, she was living with her mother, “Patty” Barns.[5]

Jane Casbon b 1803 Royston 1841 census Meld
Page from 1841 Census, Meldreth, Cambridgeshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

Two entries above that for Patty and Jane is one for William Casbel and his two children. This was not her brother William, but her first cousin, son of Isaac. Her brother William appears a few pages later, farther down the same street.

In the 1851 census, she was still living with her mother, and was now right next door to her brother.[6]

1851 census Meldreth
Page from 1851 Census, Meldreth, Cambridgeshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

This entry is interesting because it lists Janes mother as a “Pauper,” and Jane as a “Straw Platter.” What is a straw platter, you ask? The answer is that a straw plaiter was someone who braided straw to be used in the production of certain textiles, especially straw hats, which were fashionable at the time.[7],[8] The straw was braided into long strips and then sold by the score (20 yards) to either middlemen or manufacturers.[9] The straw plaits were sewn together in factories to make the finished product.[10] It was said that straw-plaiting women could earn more than their husbands.[11]

Happy Times
“Happy Times: Straw-Plaiting near St. Albans”[12] This engraving, based on a watercolor painting,
appeared in The Illustrated London News in May, 1853. (Click on image to enlarge)

Most straw plaiting in England was done in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire.[13] Meldreth, in Cambridgeshire, was only a few miles away from the county borders of both Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, so it was apparently close enough for Jane to get in on the business. It’s interesting that of the 776 entries in the 1851 Meldreth census, Jane’s is the only one given “straw platter” as the occupation.

In 1861, Jane was living alone, her mother having died in 1855.[14] Her occupation was listed as “Retired.”[15] This makes me curious whether she had a source of income or enough savings to live on.

The 1871 census makes a surprising revelation.[16]

Jane C b1803 Royston 1871 census Melbourn
Page from 1871 census, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

She was now living in Melbourn (just a mile from Meldreth). The word “Pauper” under Occupation has been crossed out. The surprise is in the column on the far right that says “Cripple from Birth.” I didn’t see that coming! I don’t know what kind of disability she had, but I would guess that it affected her ability to walk normally. She seemed to be able to use her hands, given her earlier work as a straw plaiter. How did this disability affect her life? I would like to think that she overcame the adversities in her life and ended up a stronger, more independent woman.

Jane’s death at the age of 69 was registered in Royston in the third quarter of 1872.[17] There is no record of her burial in either the Meldreth or Melbourn parish registers.

[1] “Think There Is No Difference in Genealogy vs. Family History?,”n.d., familytree.com (http://www.familytree.com/blog/think-there-is-no-difference-in-genealogy-vs-family-history/ : accessed 29 March 2017).
[2] “Hertfordshire Baptisms,” images and transcriptions, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fb%2f71142286%2f1 : accessed 29 March 2017), Jane Casburn, 27 Nov 1803; citing Hertfordshire Record Office, Royston Parish Register, Baptisms 1662—1812, Marriages 1662—1754, Burials 1662–1678.
[3] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” John Casbail burial, 3 Dec 1813; Family History Library microfilm 1,040,542.
[4] Parish of Meldreth, “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” marriage of Samuel Barnes & Martha Casbon, 24 Jul 1815; Family History Library microfilm 1,040,542.
[5] “1841 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” High Street, Meldreth, Royston & Buntingford, Cambridgeshire; image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1841%2f0000942497 : accessed 29 March 2017), entry for Jane Casbon (age 35) in household of Patty Barns; citing [The National Archives], HO 107, piece 63, book 19, folio 6, p. 6.
[6] “1851 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” Meldreth, Royston, Hertfordshire; image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1851%2f0006949839 : accessed 29 March 2017), entry for Jane Casbon (age 48) in household of Patty Barns; citing [The National Archives], HO 107, piece 1708, folio 49, p. 14.
[7] “Straw plaiting,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_plaiting : accessed 29 March 2017), rev. 5 Dec 16, 21:32.
[8] Eleanor Markland, “Teachers’ Notes,” Luton: Hat Industry 1750 to 2000 (Luton Borough Council [Museum Service], 2003), p. 5; online PDF book, Luton Culture (http://www.lutonculture.com/uploads/documents/1339774056_HatIndustry.pdf : accessed 29 March 2017).
[9] Markland, “Teachers’ Notes,” Luton: Hat Industry 1750 to 2000, p. 6.
[10] Markland, “Teachers’ Notes,” Luton: Hat Industry 1750 to 2000, p. 48.
[11] Straw Plaiting,” A History of Preston in Hertfordshire (http://www.prestonherts.co.uk/page222.html : accessed 29 March 2017)
[12] “Happy Times: Straw-Plaiting near St. Albans,” The Illustrated London News, 14 May 1853, supplement, vol. 22, p. 392; online images, Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=chi.60765664;view=1up;seq=394 : accessed 29 March 2017).
[13] “Straw plaiting,” Wikipedia.
[14] “1861 Census of Engand, Wales & Scotland,” Meldreth, Royston, Hertfordshire; image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1861%2f0005026890 : accessed 29 March 2017), Jane Carston (age 59); citing [The National Archives], enumeration district 15, RG 09, piece 815, folio 59, p. 13.
[15] “1861 Census of Engand, Wales & Scotland,” Meldreth; findmypast (accessed 29 March 2017).
[16] “1871 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” Meeting Lane, Melbourn, Royston, Hertfordshire, England; image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1871%2f0016452824 : accessed 27 March 2017), entry for Jane Casbon (age 67)); citing [The National Archives], RG 10, piece 1362, folio 69, p. 14.
[17] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007,” Royston, Hertfordshire, vol. 3A: 195; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fd%2f1872%2f3%2faz%2f000054%2f315 : accessed 29 March 2017), Jane Casbon (age 69), 3d quarter, 1872.

Sylvester on a Cart

This photograph is courtesy of Ron Casbon.

Sylvester V Casbon Rider - driver unknown0001 (Click on image to enlarge)

The older man is Sylvester V Casbon, my second great grandfather. The man sitting next to him is unidentified – does anybody recognize him? The photograph is undated and location unknown. I wonder if it was taken near his farm in Deep River.

Sylvester was born June 6, 1837 in Meldreth Cambridgeshire, England, the eldest living son of Thomas Casbon (1803-1888).[1] Sylvester was the first Casbon to settle in Indiana, after moving from Ohio.[2] He had three children with his first wife, Adaline Aylesworth (1842–1868) and three with his second, Harriet Emiline Perry (1842–1874).

After moving to Indiana, he initially settled in Boone Township, Porter County, but later moved to Deep River, in Ross Township, Lake County.[3] In 1892 he moved to Valparaiso, Porter County, where he remained the rest of his life.[4]

Although there is little detail in the photo, I’m guessing that Sylvester was in his 50s or 60s at the time. This would date the photo to the late 1880s or the 1890s. Compare to this photo, taken at a family reunion in October 1901.[5]

CASBON reunion 1901 labeled
Group photograph taken at Casbon family reunion, Valparaiso, Indiana, October 24, 1901. Sylvester is standing just to the left of the left-hand porch column. Names added by Jon Casbon. (Click on image to enlarge)

Or, compare to this photo of Sylvester and his living descendants, taken about 1905.[6]

OLD CASBON GROUP REPAIRED
Undated photo of Sylvester Casbon and extended family ca. 1905. Sylvester is sitting next to his third wife, Mary Mereness. Location is not indicated, but I believe this was Sylvester’s home on 501 Academy Street, Valparaiso. The home is still standing. (Click on image to enlarge)

Referring back to the original photo of Sylvester on the cart, I believe this kind of cart is known as a buckboard. It is a simple cart, with a seat place on a platform of planks. The platform is not suspended on springs. On some buckboards, the seat may be placed on springs.[7] That does not appear to be the case in the photograph.

[1] “Sylvester Casbon,” 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. 482; digital images, Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011679885 : accessed 24 March 2017).
[2] “Sylvester Casbon,” History of Porter County, Indiana, p. 483.
[3] “Sylvester Casbon,” History of Porter County, Indiana, p. 483.
[4] “Sylvester Casbon,” History of Porter County, Indiana, p. 484.
[5] Casbon family reunion photograph, 24 Oct 1901; digital image ca. 2001, privately held by Jon Casbon [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Colorado Springs, Colorado. The location, condition, and characteristics of the original are not known.
[6] Sylvester Casbon family photograph ca. 1905; digital image ca. 2001, privately held by Jon Casbon [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Colorado Springs, Colorado. The location, condition, and characteristics of the original are not known.
[7] “Buckboard,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckboard : accessed 24 March 2017), rev. 27 Oct 16, 09:01.

In Trouble Again

Do you remember John Casbon, the 10-year old boy who was sentenced to 7-years transportation for setting a brush pile on fire (see “The old cow got round it”)? Well, it seems that he got in trouble with the law once more, as reported in the June 12, 1869 South London Chronicle.[1]

South London Chronicle 12Jun1869 John C pleads guilty
(Click on image to enlarge)

When we last heard of John, he was serving time at the Philanthropic Farm, Redhill, Surrey. He next appears on the 1861 census, living in his father William’s household in Meldreth, and working as a “Labourer.”[2] He married Ann Barnes in Meldreth, 1863.[3] Sadly, it was a short-lived marriage. A daughter, Eliza Ann, was born late in 1863.[4] Then, Ann died, in April, 1864.[5]

Evidently, John learned to read and write, probably during the time he was at the Philanthropic Farm. He signed his own name on his marriage records. He also adopted the spelling of Casban for his surname.[6] This is the spelling that appears on official documents and in his signature from 1863 on. It’s interesting that the common variants of our surname in use today – Casban and Casben – both arose from John and his immediate siblings. His brother Samuel Clark also adopted the surname Casban, while brother Reuben adopted the name Casben.

He must have moved to London shortly after Ann’s death. He married Mary Hall in Lambeth, London, in October, 1866.[7]

John Casban Mary Hall M Lambeth 1866
Marriage record of John to Mary Hall, October 9, 1866, Lambeth, Surrey (London), showing John’s signature and also those of his brother, Rueben, and sister, Mary Ann, both of whom were single and living in London.
(Click on image to enlarge)

After his release from prison, John and Mary had three children: George William, born 1871; Kate, born 1874; and Edward James, born 1878.[8],[9],[10] John’s daughter from his first marriage, Eliza Ann, died in 1873.[11] Son Edward James died in 1879.[12] His wife Mary died in 1880.[13]

Apparently John learned his lesson after his second imprisonment There’s no evidence that he had any further troubles with the law. He married Sarah (Lawrence) Cave, a widow, in October, 1880.[14] They did not have any children, and remained married until her death in 1913.[15]

1881 census
Page from 1881 census, Tottenham, Middlesex, showing entry for John, Sarah, George and Kate.[16]
(Click on image to enlarge)

John’s stated occupation fluctuated after his release from prison. He was at times a gardener, carman, coachman, and labourer at a gasworks.[17],[18],[19],[20] He died in 1927 at the age of 86.[21] Some of today’s Casbans living in the U.K. are his descendants, through his son George. Hopefully one of them will read this & leave a comment!

[1] “Surrey Sessions … Robbery from Nine Elms Station,” South London Chronicle, 12 Jun 1869, p. 3, col. 4; image, “British Newspaper Collection,” findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/bna/ : accessed 21 March 2017).
[2] “1861 Census of Engand, Wales & Scotland,” Meldreth, Royston, Hertfordshire, England; image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1861%2f0005027198 : accessed 23 March 2017), entry for William Carston (age 56); citing [The National Archives], enumeration district 15, RG 09, piece 815, folio 64, p. 24.
[3] Meldreth Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), Parish register, 1681-1877, John Casban & Ann Barnes, 24 January 1863; FHL microfilm 1,040,542.
[4] “England & Wales births 1837-2006,” Royston, Hertfordshire, vol. 3a: 238; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fb%2f1863%2f4%2faz%2f000195%2f077 : accessed 31 Jan 2017), Eliza Ann Casban, 4th quarter, 1863.
[5] Meldreth Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), Parish register, 1681-1877, Ann Casbon burial (1864); FHL microfilm 1,040,542.
[6] Meldreth Parish register, John Casban & Ann Barnes, 24 January 1863; FHL microfilm 1,040,542..
[7] “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921,” Parish of St Mary Lambeth, Surrey, John Casban & Mary Hall, 9 Oct 1866; images and transcriptions, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 March 2017); citing Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1921, London Metropolitan Archives, London.
[8] “England & Wales births 1837-2006,” Edmunton, Middlesex, Vol. 3A: 198; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fb%2f1871%2f4%2faz%2f000104%2f029 : accessed 22 March 2017), George William Casban, 4th quarter, 1871.
[9] “England & Wales births 1837-2006,” Edmunton, Middlesex, Vol. 3A: 203; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fb%2f1874%2f1%2faz%2f000094%2f223 : accessed 22 March 2017), Katie Casban, 1st quarter, 1874.
[10] “England & Wales births 1837-2006,” Edmunton, Middlesex, vol. 3A: 251, database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fb%2f1878%2f3%2faz%2f000096%2f213 : accessed 23 March 2017), Edward James Casban, 3d quarter, 1878.
[11] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007,” Edmunton, Middlesex, vol. 3A: 133; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fd%2f1873%2f4%2faz%2f000056%2f130 : accessed 1 February 2017), Eliza Ann Casban, 4th quarter, 1873.
[12] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007,” Edmunton, Middlesex, vol. 3A: 164; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fd%2f1879%2f1%2faz%2f000069%2f263 : accessed 23 March 2017), Edward James Casban, 1st quarter, 1879.
[13] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007,” Edmunton, Middlesex, vol. 3A: 151; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fd%2f1880%2f1%2faz%2f000064%2f143 : accessed 23 March 2017), Mary Casban (age 40), 1st quarter, 1880.
[14] “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921,” Parish of St Jude Bethnal Green, MIddlesex, John Casban & Sarah Cave, 9 October 1880; images and transcriptions, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 November 2015); citing Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1921, London Metropolitan Archives.
[15] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007,” Edmonton, Middlesex, vol. 3A: 697; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fd%2f1913%2f1%2faz%2f000173%2f099 : accessed 23 March 2017), Sarah Casban (age 73), 1st quarter, 1913.
[16] “1881 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” Tottenham, Edmonton, Middlesex; image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1881%2f0006584773 : accessed 20 March 2017), entry for John Casbur (age 38); citing [The National Archives], RG 11, piece 1381, folio 45, p. 25.
[17] “1881 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” Tottenham, Edmonton, Middlesex; findmypast, entry for John Casbur (age 38).
[18] “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921,” Bethnal Green, Middlesex, John Casban & Sarah Cave, 9 October 1880; Ancestry.
[19] “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921,” St James Church, Parish of Edmunton, London, Frederick Gunn & Kate Casban, 9 Apr 1898; images and transcriptions, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 March 2017); citing Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1921, London Metropolitan Archives.
[20] “1911 Census of England and Wales,” Edmonton, Middlesex; image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1911%2frg14%2f07352%2f0141%2f1 : accessed 20 March 2017), entry for John Casban (age 68); citing [The National Archives], ref. RG14PN7352 RG78PN357 RD132 SD5 ED2 SN70.
[21] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007,” Edmunton, Middlesex, vol 3A: 87; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fd%2f1927%2f1%2faz%2f000195%2f138 : accessed 23 March 2017), John Casban (age 86), 1st quarter, 1927.

A Coming-of-Age Celebration

I wasn’t planning on writing about this family again so soon, but I was drawn to this article in the October 24, 1908 Bury (Lancashire, England) Times.[1]

Bury Times 24Oct1908 Nellie Casbon coming of age(Click on image to enlarge)

I was struck by both the importance of the occasion and the detailed reporting of the evening’s festivities. It paints such a vivid picture of a bygone era. I tried to find out more about the tradition of the coming-of-age celebration, but it does not seem to be well documented. In this case, Miss Casbon (Nellie) had just turned 21. This was the age of majority, when a young person gained full control over their lives by law.[2] In the U.K., the age of majority was finally reduced to 18 in 1975.[3]

Here in the U.S. 21 is the age when people can legally drink alcohol in many states. That occasion is frequently celebrated, often to excess, but not in such a dignified manner. The only other coming-of-age celebration I can think of in the U.S. is a “sweet sixteen” party, but that doesn’t have the level of formality and maturity described in the article above.

I wonder when the tradition started and when it ended? In England there was a long tradition of aristocratic debutantes being presented to the monarch as their formal introduction to society. I suspect that as the middle class became more prominent in 19th century Britain, it became economically and socially feasible to have similar celebrations for non-aristocratic young women.

It certainly sounds like a memorable and joyful occasion – musical performances, singing, “selections on a gramophone.” I love the detailed description of each of the presents along with the names of the gift-givers.

“Nellie” was Helen Marshall Casbon, daughter of Alfred Hitch Casbon junior and his wife Margaret Marshall. Alfred and his father, Alfred Hitch senior, were both subjects of my previous post. Nellie also had a younger sister, Laura Marshall Casbon. She was one year younger than Nellie, so I expect she would have had a similar celebration one year later. Unfortunately, the online archive of the Bury Times does not extend beyond 1909, and I haven’t located a similar article for Laura.

Nellie never married, and in 1939, she was still living in the house at 41 East Street in Bury.[4] Her occupation in 1911 was listed as Milliner, and in 1939 as “Cotton winder.”[5],[6]

1939 register detailDetail from the 1939 Register, Bury, Lancashire. The “41” on the far left is the house address on East Street. (Click on image to enlarge)

Google Street View image of 41 East Street, Bury, Lancashire, England. It is the one with the red door. This is where Alfred Hitch Casbon junior’s family lived from at least 1891 through 1939 or later. This block of houses looks largely unchanged since the 19th century (aside from the automobiles and satellite dishes!)

Nellie died 1976 in Bury (I bet she still had most of those gifts!).[7] Her sister Laura married a man named Cairns in 1936, and I haven’t been able to trace her whereabouts since then.[8]

[1] “Coming-of-Age Celebration.” The Bury (Lancashire, England) Times, 24 November 1908, p. 10, col. 2; pdf image, The British Newspaper Collection,” findmypast http://search.findmypast.com/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0000315%2f19081024%2f261 : accessed 17 March 2017).
[2] “Age of majority,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_majority : accessed 17 March 2017), rev. 16 Mar 17, 11:44.
[3] “Timeline of young people’s rights in the United Kingdom,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_young_people’s_rights_in_the_United_Kingdom : accessed 17 March 2017), rev. 8 Mar 17, 21:48.
[4][4] “1939 Register,” image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=tna%2fr39%2f4314%2f4314j%2f019%2f21 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for Helen M Casbon (born 19 Oct 1887), East Street , Bury C.B., Lancashire ; citing [The National Archives], RG101/4314J/019/21.
[5] “1911 Census of England and Wales,”  image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1911%2frg14%2f23516%2f0111%2f1 : accessed 8 March 2017), Helen Marshall Casbon in entry for Alf H Casbon (age 57), East St, Bury, Lancashire, England; citing [The National Archives], census reference RG14PN23516 RG78PN1371 RD462 SD5 ED5 SN56.
[6] “1939 Register,” entry for Helen M Casbon.
[7] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007,” Bury, Lancashire, England, vol. 38:0387; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fd%2f1976%2f3%2faz%2f000162%2f103 : accessed 18 March 2017), entry for Helen Marshall Casbon, 3d quarter, 1976.
[8] “England & Wales Marriages 1837-2008,” Wallasey, Cheshire, England, vol. 8A: 1329, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fm%2f1936%2f4%2faz%2f000195%2f050 : accessed 8 March 2017), Frederick Cairns & Laura M Casbon, 4th quarter, 1936.

A Family of Tailors

We’ve already met Alfred Hitch Casbon. He’s the guy whose middle name was transcribed as “Jitel” (see “Without a Hitch”). He was the son of James (Howse) Casbon (1806–1871) by his first wife, Ann Hitch.

Alfred Hitch Casbon was born September 4, 1828 in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire and baptized in the “non-conformist” Independent church December 7th of the same year.[1] He spent his early years in Meldreth with his family. By 1851, however, “Hitch” was working as a tailor, and living in the town of Sandiacre, Derbyshire, England.[2]

1851 census detail SandiacreDetail from 1851 census, Sandiacre, Derbyshire, England. (Click on image to enlarge)

For reasons unknown, he decided to be baptized again as an adult into the Church of England, in 1851.[3] Perhaps this had something to do with his upcoming marriage. He married Charlotte (Haines) Hornby, a widow, on August 9, 1852.[4]

A Hitch Casbon Charlotte Hornby marriageMarriage record of Alfred Hitch Casbon and Charlotte Hornby, August 9, 1852. (Click on image to enlarge)

Alfred and Charlotte had a son, also named Alfred Hitch, in 1853.[5] Charlotte died in 1866,[6] and Alfred remarried in 1867, this time to Elizabeth Ryder, a previously unmarried woman.[7] Their first child, Arthur Hitch, born in 1868, lived only a matter of days.[8] Their second son was born in 1870 and named Harry Hitch Casbon.[9] Thus, Alfred Hitch Casbon had two surviving sons, born 17 years apart.

Alfred moved around quite a bit during his working years. His first marriage was in Hackney (London).[10] Arthur was baptized and buried in Haddenham (near Ely).[11] Harry was baptized in Ely proper.[12] By 1861 Alfred was again living in Hackney and in 1871 he was in Kent.[13], [14]

By 1881 he finally settled down for good, in Bury, Lancashire. The census of that year is the only one that shows Alfred, his wife, and both surviving sons together.[15]

1881 census BuryPage from 1881 Census, Bury, Lancashire, England. (Click on image to enlarge)

By this point, Alfred senior seems to have attained some stability in his occupation. He employed an apprentice and machinist. Alfred junior had also learned the tailor’s trade. Alfred senior died at Bury in 1887.[16] His widow Elizabeth died in 1904.[17]

Meanwhile, Alfred junior was married in 1885 to Margaret Marshall, the daughter of a baker.[18] In the 1891 census, Alfred and Margaret were listed in separate locations, Alfred as a lodger in Brighton, Sussex, and Margaret as head of household in Bury.[19], [20] Perhaps this was due to a temporary work situation for Alfred, as they were together again in Bury for the 1901 census.[21] Alfred and Helen had two daughters, Helen and Laura, born 1887 and 1888, respectively.[22], [23]

In the 1911 census, Alfred described his specialty as “gentlemens tailoring.”[24]

1911 Census Alf H jrSchedule from 1911 Census, Bury, Lancashire, England. (Click on image to enlarge)

This census also shows that daughter Helen was employed as a milliner and Laura as an elementary school teacher. This census image is also interesting because it shows the actual form completed by Alfred and provided to the census enumerator. Prior to 1911 these forms, known as schedules, have been lost, and only the summary sheets completed by the census enumerators survive. Alfred’s wife Margaret died 1934 in Bury, and Alfred died one year later, also in Bury.[25], [26]

By 1891, Harry Hitch, the youngest son, was also a tailor.[27] He married Elizabeth Bradshaw in 1897.[28] In the 1891 and 1901 censuses, Harry was living in Radcliffe, Lancashire, not far from Bury.[29] In 1911 he was living in Bury again.[30]

1911 Census HarryDetail from 1911 Census, Bury, Lancashire, England. (Click on image to enlarge)

Unlike their father, both Alfred junior and Harry were listed as “workers”—not employers—on the census forms. In the 1939 register (similar to a census – taken just after the outbreak of war), Harry is listed as a Journeyman Tailor – retired.[31] The word journeyman implies that he could serve as an employee, but had not fulfilled all the requirements to be a master tailor and hence could not be self-employed. Harry and Elizabeth never had children. Harry died 1943 in Fylde, Lancashire, and Helen died 1956 in Blackpool, Lancashire.[32], [33]

Here’s a chart showing how the “Hitch’s” are descended from the Meldreth Casbon branch.

descendancy chart(Click on image to enlarge)
[1] “England & Wales Non-Conformist Births and Baptisms”, Hitch Casbon (born 4 Sep 1828, baptized 7 December 1828); images and transcriptions, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=tna%2frg4%2fbap%2f183809 : accessed 10 Jan 2017); citing The National Archives, TNA/RG/4/155.
[2] “1851 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1851%2f0013258922 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for Hitch Casbourn (age 22) in household of William Raynor,Sandiacre, Shardlow, Derbyshire,  ; citing [The National Archives], HO 107, piece 2141, folio 241, p. 241 (stamped).
[3] Meldreth Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877, Alfred Hitch Casbon baptism, 25 Oct 1851; FHL microfilm 1,040,542.
[4] “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921,” Alfred Hitch Casbon & Charlotte Hornby, 9 August 1852; images and transcriptions, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 August 2016); citing London Metropolitan Archives, London.
[5] “England & Wales births 1837-2006,” Alfred Hitch Casbon; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fb%2f1853%2f2%2fah%2f000619%2f035 : accessed 8 March 2017); citing Hackney, London, England, 2d quarter, 1853, vol. 1B: 263.
[6] “London, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1980,” Parish of West Hackney, Middlesex, England; transcriptions and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 February 2017), entry for Charlotte Casbon, buried 13 November 1866; citing Board of Guardian Records, 1834-1906 and Church of England Parish Registers, 1813-1906. London Metropolitan Archives, London.
[7] “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921,” Alfred Hitch Casbon & Elizabeth Ryder, 15 April 1867; Ancestry (accessed 10 August 2016).
[8] Cambridge Family History Society, “Cambridgeshire Burials,” transcripts, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fd%2f403340357%2f1 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for Arthur Hitch Casbon, 17 Aug 1868, Haddenham, Cambridgeshire, England.
[9] Cambridge Family History Society, “Cambridgeshire Baptisms,” transcripts, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fb%2f323517931%2f1 : accessed 31 Jan 2017), entry for Harry Hitch Casbon, born 25 May 1870, baptized 21 Jun 1870, Ely (Cambridgeshire), Wesleyan Methodist [Church].
[10]  “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921,” Casbon & Hornby, 9 August 1852.
[11] Cambridge Family History Society, “Cambridgeshire Burials,” Arthur Hitch Casbon, 17 Aug 1868.
[12] Cambridge Family History Society, “Cambridgeshire Baptisms,” Harry Hitch Casbon, born 25 May 1870.
[13] “1861 Census of England and Wales,” image and transcriptions, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1861%2f0000993933 : accessed 26 Jan 2017), entry for Alfred Cashon (age 32), Marys Place, Hackney, London; citing [The National Archives], RG 09, piece 155, folio 155, p. 63.
[14] “1871 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” image and transcriptions, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1871%2f0014306938 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for Alfred W Casban, Alexandria Road, St Lawrence, Thanet, Kent; citing [The National Archives], RG 10, piece 997, folio 70, p. 18.
[15] “1881 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” image and transcriptions, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1881%2f0017803564 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for Alfred K Casbon (age 52), Regent Street, Bury, Lancashire; citing [The National Archives], RG 11, piece 2864, folio 96, p. 22.
[16] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007,” Bury, Lancashire, England, vol. 8C, p. 404; database, findmypast  (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fd%2f1887%2f4%2faz%2f000060%2f108 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for Alfred Hitch Casbon (age 59), 4th quarter, 1887.
[17] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007,” Preston, Lancashire, England, vol. 8E: 363; findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fd%2f1904%2f3%2faz%2f000060%2f351 : accessed 14 March 2017), entry for Elizabeth Casbon (age 75), 3d quarter, 1904.
[18] Parish of St Thomas Bradford, Yorkshire, England, Alfred Hitch Casbon & Margaret Marshall, 18 October 1885; transcripts and images, “West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 February 2017); citing Yorkshire Parish Records, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield, Yorkshire.
[19] “1891 Census of England Wales & Scotland,”  image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1891%2f0006364915 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for entry for Alfred H Casbon (age 37) in household of George Luste[?se], Belgrave Street, Brighton, Sussex, England; citing [The National Archives], R 12, piece 806, folio 71, p. 31.
[20]  “1891 Census of England Wales & Scotland,” image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1891%2f0021545025 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for Margaret Casbon (age 41), East Street, Bury, Lancashire, England; citing [The National Archives], RG 34, piece 3136, folio 50, p. 34.
[21] “1901 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” image and transcription, findmypast  (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1901%2f0024703844 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for Alfred H Cashon (age 47), East Street, Bury, Lancashire, England; citing [The National Archives], RG 13, piece 3645, folio 120, p. 33.
[22] “England & Wales births 1837-2006,” Bury, Lancashire, England, vol. 8C: 533; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fb%2f1887%2f4%2faz%2f000095%2f116 : accessed 15 March 2017), entry for Helen Marshall Casbon, 4th quarter, 1887.
[23] “England & Wales births 1837-2006,” Bury, Lancashire, England, vol. 8C: 560; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fb%2f1888%2f4%2faz%2f000095%2f356 : accessed 15 March 2017), entry for Laura Marshall Casbon, 4th quarter, 1888.
[24] “1911 Census of England and Wales,”  image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1911%2frg14%2f23516%2f0111%2f1 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for Alf H Casbon (age 57), East St, Bury, Lancashire, England; citing [The National Archives], census reference RG14PN23516 RG78PN1371 RD462 SD5 ED5 SN56.
[25] “England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966,” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 August 2016), Casbon, Margaret, 12 July 1934; citing Principal Probate Registry, Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England, London.
[26] “England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966,” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 August 2016), Casbon, Alfred Hitch, 5 May 1935; citing Principal Probate Registry, Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England, London.
[27] “1891 Census of England Wales & Scotland,” image and transcription, findmypast  (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1891%2f0021600165 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for Harry Casbon, West Street, Radcliffe, Bury, Lancashire; citing [The National Archives], RG 12, piece 3143, folio 47, p. 13.
[28] “England & Wales Marriages 1837-2008,” Bury, Lancashire, England, vol. 8c: 882; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fm%2f1897%2f3%2faz%2f000060%2f188 : accessed 16 March 2017), entry for Harry Hitch Casbon [& Elizabeth Bradshaw], 3d quarter, 1897.
[29] “1901 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1901%2f0024729035 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for Harry H Casbon (age 30), Wellington Street, Radcliffe, Bury, Lancashire, England; citing [The National Archives], RG 13, piece 3648, folio 90, p. 14.
[30] “1911 Census of England and Wales,” image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1911%2frg14%2f23523%2f0577%2f1 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for Harry Hitch Casbon, Nelson St, Bury, Lancashire;  citing [The National Archives], RG14PN23523 RG78PN1371 RD462 SD5 ED12 SN286.
[31] “1939 Register,” image and transcription, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=TNA%2FR39%2F4258%2F4258A%2F014%2F19 : accessed 8 March 2017), entry for Harry H Casbon (born 25 May 1870), Collyhurst Avenue , Blackpool C.B., Lancashire; citing [The National Archives], RG101/4258A/014/19.
[32] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007,” Fylde, Lancashire, vol. 8E: 858; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fd%2f1943%2f1%2faz%2f000164%2f105 : accessed 16 March 2017), entry for Harry H Casbon (age 72), 1st quarter, 1943.
[33]  “England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966,” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 February 2017), Casbon, Elizabeth, 24 April 1956; citing Principal Probate Registry, Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England, London.

A Casbon in Parliament?

Well, yes … sort of.

This advertisement appeared in The (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) Daily Colonist in 1907.[1]

William Casbon Parliament(Click on image to enlarge)

As you can see, the advertisement includes an endorsement of sorts by “William Casbon, Superintendent of the Refreshment Department of the House of Lords, London.” This William is an interesting character, arising from humble beginnings in Meldreth, Cambridgeshire before rising to this somewhat exalted position. His ascent reflects the social and economic changes during the transition from the Victorian era into the twentieth century.

We can trace his ancestry back to Meldreth through his father and grandfather – both named William – and then back three more generations to the “original” John of early 18th century Meldreth (see “Stuck on John”).

descendancy chart

His father William was born in late 1834 or early 1835, and baptized in Meldreth February 7, 1835.[2] Initially an agricultural labourer like his predecessors, by his later years he was known as a fruit grower and market gardener.[3],[4] It would be interesting to know how he was able to advance above the station of a labourer, but I don’t have any information that would help answer that question. The wife of this William and mother of our parliamentarian was baptized Sarah West at Soham, Cambridgeshire, in 1823. Besides William, they had two other children: Walter (1856–1923) and Priscilla (1862–after 1891).

William’s paternal grandfather was also named William. He was the second son of Isaac and Susanna (Howes) Casbon of Meldreth.

The William of today’s post was born 1860 in Meldreth.[5],[6] I have not found a baptismal record. After appearing on the 1861 and 1871 censuses with his family, he disappears from view for over 20 years. I believe he is the William (Casban, Caskan?), age 23, birthplace Meldreth or Hildreth, Cambridgeshire, who appears in the 1881 census in the village of Breadsall, Derbyshire, as a railway signalman.[7] But there is too much ambiguity about this record for me to confidently say this is the same man. I also think he might be the “W. Casbon,” age 24, seeking a position as first footman in an 1884 London newspaper ad.[8] But again, there just isn’t enough information to make a firm identification.

The next record I can confirm as belonging to this William is his marriage in 1892 to Mary Grace Hoskins, at St George-Hanover Square, London.[9]

William next appears in the 1901 census, living in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire. His occupation is listed as “Golf Club Manager.” This is quite a step up from the son of a labourer in Meldreth. It was in this same year that he received a provisional appointment as Superintendent of the Refreshment Department, along with “a house and certain allowances.”[10] I can only guess that the experience he gained as a golf club manager gave him the necessary skills to qualify and be appointed to the House of Lords position. Perhaps he was able to make some influential friends along the way.

The provisional appointment must have been converted to a permanent position. William and Mary appear in the 1911 census, their address listed as “House of Lords Westminster,” occupation “caterers.”[11] The census also records that they had two servants.

The advertisement at the beginning of this post caused some controversy. This was written in the popular magazine, Truth, in 1906.[12]

Wm Casbon in Truth magazine 1906(Click on image to enlarge)

It appears that William was providing certificates for products on his own initiative (presumably for a fee). The trouble seems to have arisen in 1905, but as the 1907 advertisement shows, the Scotch whiskey purveyors were still using his certificates well after they had supposedly “expired.” Apparently, the controversy was not enough for him to lose his job. Although not mentioned in the Truth article, William did not limit his endorsements to whiskey. I found this advertisement for marmalade in another newspaper.[13]

Marmalade endorsement(Click on image to enlarge)

All this leads me to conclude that William must have been an energetic and ambitious man who capitalized on opportunities to improve his station in life. I think he must have had a winning personality, as well as natural talent, to advance as far as he did. I don’t know whether he was being astute or naïve when it comes to the use of his position in Parliament to endorse certain products.

William and his wife Mary Grace never had children, so there are no descendants today. William died on September 8, 1939, leaving Mary Grace an estate of about £355 (worth about £21,600 today).[14],[15] Mary Grace died in 1950.[16]

[1] Advertisement for James Monroe & Sons “House of Lords” Whiskey, The (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) Daily Colonist. 10 Nov 1907, p. 1, col. 1; PDF image, Old FultonNY Post Cards (http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html : accessed 19 March 2016), search on Casbon,Whiskey.
[2] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877, William Casburn baptism (1835); FHL Microfilm 1,040,542.
[3] “Find a Will,” Gov.UK (https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk : accessed 6 March 2017), Wills and Probate 1858–1996, search terms Casbon, 1896.
[4] “1891 Census of England and Wales,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:W83R-F3Z : accessed 2 August 2016), entry for William Casbon (age 55), Witcroft Rd, Meldreth, Hertfordshire; citing The National Archives, RG 12, piece 1104, folio 14, p.18.
[5] “England & Wales births 1837-2006,” Royston, Hertfordshire, vol, 3A:205, William Casbon, 3d quarter, 1860; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 17 February 2017).
[6] “1861 Census of England and Wales,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1861%2f0005026675 : accessed 6 March 2017), Meldreth, Royston, Hertfordshire, England, schedule 11, William Carston (age 25); citing [The National Archives], enumeration district 15, RG 09, piece 815, folio 54, p. 4.
[7] “1881 England, Wales & Scotland Census,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1881%2f0015417935 : accessed 6 March 2017), entry for William Caskan (age 23), Pall Mall, Breadsall, Shardlow, Derbyshire, England; citing [The National Archives], RG 11, piece 3393, folio 67, p. 2.
[8] “Want Places,” The (London) Morning Post, 5 March 1884, p. 8, col. 7; online image, “British Newspaper Collection,” findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/bna : accessed 6 March 2017)
[9] “England & Wales Marriages 1837-2008,” St George Hanover Square, London, England, vol. 1A, p. 837, William Casbon & Mary Grace Hoskin, 3d quarter 1892; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fm%2f1892%2f3%2faz%2f000053%2f161 : accessed 4 March 2017).
[10] “Refreshment Department,” Journals of the House of Lords (H.M. Stationery Office, 1901 – Great Britain), Volume 133, p. 305; image, Google books (https://books.google.com/books?id=RcE4AQAAIAAJ&dq : accessed 5 March 2017).
[11] “1911 Census of England and Wales,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=gbc%2f1911%2frg14%2f00489%2f0075%2f1 : accessed 17 February 2017), entry for William Casbon (age 50), St Margaret & St John, Westminster, London, England; citing [The National Archives], enumeration district 24, census reference RG14PN489 RG78PN16 RD5 SD3 ED24 SN10.
[12] Truth (magazine), vol. 59, no. 1519, p. 309, col. 2; image, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=PHQxAQAAMAAJ&dq : accessed 5 March 2017).
[13] Advertisement for Dunster Marmalade, The (Willton) West Somerset (England) Free Press August 3, 1907, p. 3, col. 6; image, “British Newspaper Collection,” findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/bna : accessed 5 March 2017).
[14] “Find A Will,” digital image, Gov.UK (https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk : accessed 7 March 2017); 1944 National Probate Calendar, entry for William Casbon (died 8 September 1939).
[15] “UK Inflation Calculator,” Alioth LLC (http://www.in2013dollars.com : accessed 7 March 2017).
[16] ” Search the GRO [General Register Office] Online Index “, database, HM Passport Office (https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp : accessed 7 March 2017), Brighton, Sussex, England, vol. 5H: 70, Mary Grace Casbon death (age 84), June quarter, 1950.