I am grateful to Tony Casbon of Peterborough for sharing some of his old family photos. Photographs help to connect us to the past and give glimpses into the lives of our ancestors. They also provide evidence of significant events, dates, places and relationships. Sometimes old photos can present challenges – where and when were they taken? Who are the people in the photo?
This is a nice casual snapshot of a family outing. It looks like they didn’t even stop walking to pose while the photo was taken. The location is not identified, but there is obviously a wide paved public walkway with some kind of embankment on the right side. Is it a public park? The beach? What time of year is it? Even though the boys are wearing shorts, they also have on pullovers. The couple on the right are wearing heavy overcoats, so I suspect it is a fairly cool day.
Madge is carrying a bucket with what looks like the makings of a picnic, and the boy on the right is carrying a kite and a toy sailboat. Wherever they are headed, it looks like they will have a good time.
I really like the facial expressions. Madge and Charles Arthur are clearly enjoying themselves. Eliza appears to be smiling. The boy on the right looks uncertain.
The email that came with this photo identifies the people as follows: “back left: Eliza Kate Harvey; back right: Charles Arthur Casbon holding Reg Casbon; front right: Joseph Arthur Casbon; middle: Marjorie (known as Madge) Casbon; front left: Bill Casbon.”
This cannot be entirely correct, based on the birth order and the apparent ages of the children. The genealogical records can help us to more accurately identify the family members and attach an approximate date to the photo. So, let’s take a closer look at this family, beginning with father Charles.
Charles Arthur Casbon, was born December, 1880, the son of Thomas (1854–1910) and Elizabeth(Pettifor) (1856–1906) Casbon., His father was the fourth generation of gardeners from the Peterborough area, whom we met previously in “How doth your garden grow, Part 3.”
Unlike his father, Charles took up the profession of baking. He placed this advertisement in July, 1911.
Charles married Grace Parker in 1903, and they had a son, Frank Dennis in 1908., Grace died in 1912.
Charles remarried in September, 1915, this time to Eliza Kate Harvey. Charles and Eliza had the following children:
John William (“Bill”), b. 2 Nov 1916. Marjorie Elizabeth (“Madge”), b. 11 Nov 1919. Joseph Arthur (“Arthur”), b. 24 Jul 1921. Leslie David, b. 28 Apr 1923. Joyce Gwenneth, b. 31 Oct 1927 and died 11 Aug 1928., Ronald Eric (“Reg”), b. 4 Jul 1929.
Eliza died in 1932; Charles then married Ethel Wright in December, 1933., Charles and Ethel did not have children. Charles died 1945 and Ethel in 1976, both in Sheffield.,
Returning to the photo, the only child I can identify with certainty is Madge, since the other daughter, Joyce, died before she was 10 months old. The baby and the boy on the left are clearly younger than Joyce.
Of the six children born to Charles and Eliza, four were younger than Madge. Based on birth order alone, this leaves three possibilities for the identities of the two youngest children in the photo (from oldest to youngest): Leslie and Reg (because Joyce would have been deceased by the time Reg was born), Leslie and Joyce (if the photo was taken before she died), and Arthur and Leslie.
We can narrow it down more by estimating the ages of the children. I’m guessing that the baby is between 6 and 15 months old; the boy on the left about 3–4 years old. I’m less sure of the others – maybe Madge is 6–8. The boy on the right looks a little older than Madge, maybe 10, but I’m not sure. If older, he would be Bill; if younger, Arthur. What do you think?
If the baby is Reg, then the boy on the left would be Leslie – 6 years and 2 months older than Reg. That means he have to be close to 7 years old. That doesn’t look possible to me, so I think we can exclude Reg as the youngest child in the picture.
What about Joyce? If she is the baby, she would have to be less than 10 months old. Based on apparent age, this could be Joyce. She would have died soon after the photo was taken. If it is Joyce, then the boy on the left would be Leslie, about 4 years and 6 months older. This would make him about 5 years old in the photo. Madge would be about 8 ½years old. The boy on the right could be either Arthur, age 7, or Bill, about 11 ½ years old. These ages don’t quite seem to match the apparent ages either.
The only other possibility is that the baby is Leslie. If so, Arthur, about 3 years old, is on the left. Madge would be about 4 ½, and Bill about 7 ½. Madge and the boy on the right look a little older than this to me, but this still seems like the best “fit” to me?
So, based on apparent ages, my best guess is that the baby is Leslie, and the boy on the left is Arthur. This would mean the boy on the right is Bill. What do you think?
If I’m correct, then the photo would have been taken in late 1923 or early 1924. If I’m wrong and the baby is Joyce, the date of the photo would be summer, 1928.
Tony Casbon also sent this photo, in which the children are easier to identify.
The email with this photo identified the children as follows: “Left Side: Joseph Arthur Casbon (known as Arthur); Back Middle: Margaret Casbon (known as Madge); Right Side: Leslie Casbon; Front Middle: Eric Casbon (known as Reg).”
I think the names for the right and left are reversed (or is the scanned photo reversed?), since the boy on the right is clearly older than the boy on the left. Madge is clearly older than in the previous photo. Assuming the baby is Reg, he looks to be about 2 years old. This would make Leslie about 8; Arthur about 10; and Madge almost 12. The date of the photo must be about 1931. I think this photo also supports my guess of the children’s identities in the earlier photograph. Arthur looks about the same age in this photo as the older boy in the earlier photo, so they can’t be the same person.
I’m fortunate to also have a photo of Madge and Reg taken in the early 1990s when my parents met them on a visit to England.
All of Charles’ and Eliza’s children are deceased now. Bill passed in 1983, Madge in 2002, Arthur in 1996, Leslie in 1987, and Reg in 2016.,,,, Charles’ son Frank, from his first marriage to Grace, died in 1966. Many of today’s living Casbons can claim their ancestry from Charles Arthur Casbon and his children. Are you one of them? Feel free to leave a comment!
Update June 6, 2017
Tony Casbon has clarified that in the photo at the top, the boy on Madge’s left is his father (Joseph) Arthur. That would make the baby Reg and the boy on the left Leslie. Apparently my ability to guess children’s ages needs a little work!