The Birth Record of Amos James Casbon

A short while ago I wrote about a birth record I had obtained from the General Register Office (GRO) in England.[1] I actually received three birth records from the GRO in the same order. In addition to that of George Casbon, I received the records from Amos James Casbon and his sister Margaret. I’ll write about Amos today and save Margaret for a later post.

Here’s the record.

Birth registration of Amos James Casbon[2] (Click on image to enlarge)

What is the significance of this record? First of all, it gives Amos’ correct birth date – July 6, 1869 – and location – Chair Fen, Cottenham (Cambridgeshire). This differs from Amos’ obituary, which gives his birthday as July 2 and the location as Meldreth. The birth registration should be considered more likely to have accurate information, since it was completed nearer in time to the actual event. Although it might come as a surprise to some, it’s quite possible that Amos did not know his correct birthdate because his parents were semiliterate at best and did not know or remember the exact date. I have no idea why his obituary gave the birthplace as Meldreth, except that it was the birthplace of his father James and his uncle Thomas, so others might have assumed Amos came from there as well.

Previously, the only birth record I had was from an online birth registration index. The index gives the year and quarter of birth, and the name of the district where the birth was registered. Each registration district includes a number of different civil parishes (villages or towns). In Amos’ case, the index showed that his birth was registered at Chesterton during the third quarter of 1869. [3] The Chesterton district encompassed a large area surrounding the city of Cambridge and composed of 38 civil parishes.[4] So, the registration index alone did not give precise information about where or when Amos was born.

I also knew that Amos was baptized in the town of Stretham on August 3, 1869.[5] To be more accurate, his baptism was recorded in Stretham, but the baptism was performed “privately,” meaning it was not performed in the church. The baptismal record also gives the location of his parents’ abode as Cottenham.[6] The birth record narrows the location down further to a place known as Chair Fen.

I think Chair Fen must be a misspelling of Chear Fen, which can be found on maps of the Cottenham area. These two maps show the location of Chear Fen in relation to Cottenham, and a more detailed map of the fen area itself.

Detail from 1898 Ordnance Survey map of Cambridge (Hills), showing Cottonham;[7] Chear Fen is outlined in red; reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (http://maps.nls.uk/index.html) under the terms of the CC-BY-NC-SA licence 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/legalcode) (Click on image to enlarge)

Detail from 1887 Ordnance Survey map of  Cambridgeshire, Sheet XXXIV.NE, showing Chear Fen,
just south of the Old West (Great Ouse) River;[8] reproduced with the permission of the National
Library of Scotland (http://maps.nls.uk/index.html) under the terms of the CC-BY-NC-SA licence 4.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/legalcode) (Click on image to enlarge)
Chear Fen is located about 3 miles northeast of Cottenham, roughly midway between Cottenham and Stretham. The proximity to Stretham may explain why Amos was baptized in Stretham rather than Cottenham. In addition, Amos’ mother, Mary (Jackson), was from Stretham, so they might have considered this their home parish.

Cottenham and Chear Fen are located within a large area in eastern England known as the Fenlands. Fens are low-lying wetlands that were historically prone to periodic flooding.[9] They were drained several centuries ago and are now maintained by a system of dikes, drains , and pumping stations.[10]

The River Great Ouse at Chear Fen;[11] photo by Bob Jones [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0 )], via Wikimedia Commons
The remainder of the information in Amos’ birth registration confirms facts already known from other sources: his father’s name was James; his mother was Mary née Jackson; and James worked as a farm labourer. Given their residence on Chear Fen, it’s likely that James lived where he worked, on one of the farms shown on the map.

Now that we know where and when Amos’ life began, I’ll end with this timeline of his life.

(Click on image to enlarge)
[1] Jon Casbon, “New Document Breaks through a Brick Wall,” 29 Oct 2017, Our Casbon Journey (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/new-document-breaks-through-a-brick-wall/ : accessed 26 November 2017).
[2] England, birth registration (PDF copy), Amos James Casburn, born 6 Jul 1869; registered 9 Aug 1869, Chesterton District 3b/452, Willingham Sub-district, Cambridgeshire; General Registry Office, Southport.
[3] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2X7G-YF3 : accessed 12 September 2015), Amos James Casburn, 3d quarter,1869; from “England & Wales Births, 1837-2006,” database, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing Birth Registration, Chesterton, Cambridgeshire, vol. 3B:452; citing General Register Office, Southport, England.
[4] “Chesterton Registration District,” UK BMD (https://www.ukbmd.org.uk/reg/districts/chesterton.html : accessed 26 November 2017).
[5] “Cambridgeshire Baptisms,” database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fb%2f323728303%2f1 : accessed 30 January 2017), Amos James Casburn, 3 Aug 1869; citing Cambridgeshire parish records (transcribed by Cambridgeshire Family History Society).
[6] “Cambridgeshire Baptisms,” Amos James Casburn.
[7] “One-Inch to the mile, England and Wales, Revised New Series, Cambridge (Hills), Sheet 188,” 1898; online image, National Library of Scotland (http://maps.nls.uk/view/101168159 : accessed 27 November 2017); citing Ordnance Survey Office, Southampton.
[8] “Six-Inch to the mile, England and Wales, Cambridgeshire XXXIV.NE (includes: Cottenham; Landbeach; Stretham; Waterbeach; Wilburton),” 1887; online image, National Library of Scotland (http://maps.nls.uk/view/101571604 : accessed 26 November 2017); citing Ordnance Survey Office, Southampton.
[9] “The Fens,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fens : accessed 26 November 2017), rev. 08:07, 24 Nov 2017.
[10] “The Fens,” Wikipedia.
[11] “File:River Great Ouse at Chear Fen – geograph.org.uk – 271786.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:River_Great_Ouse_at_Chear_Fen_-_geograph.org.uk_-_271786.jpg : accessed 26 November 2017).

2 thoughts on “The Birth Record of Amos James Casbon”

  1. I did the timeline in MS Word – it’s made of simple elements: box, line(s) and arrow. I didn’t like any of the built-in templates and couldn’t find one that I liked online, so I made up my own.

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