First, let me wish all of my readers a Happy Thanksgiving!
I recently documented how the numbers of Casbon ancestors living in Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, dwindled, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. Today I’ll highlight two brothers who left Meldreth in the 1860s. Not only did they leave the ancestral home, but they also left the spelling of their old surname behind in Meldreth. The two brothers were John Casban and Reuben Casben.
This marriage record is a good place to start.
We can see that John was a widower. He was married in 1863 to Ann Barnes, in Meldreth. She died in Meldreth in April 1864. Their daughter, Eliza Ann, was baptized in Meldreth on June 4, 1864. John relocated to Lambeth, in Surrey, sometime after Eliza’s baptism, but before his remarriage in 1866.
Lambeth is now a borough of London, but was once a separate parish in the county of Surrey. It is south of the City of London and the River Thames, and east of Westminster.
Lambeth seems to have been only a temporary stopping point for John. I haven’t been able to find him in the 1871 census, but all of his children’s births, beginning in 1871, were registered in Edmonton, a district in northern London, about nine miles from Lambeth. Besides his daughter Eliza, John and Mary had three children: George William, born in 1871; Kate, 1874; and Edward, 1878. Eliza died in 1873, and young Edward died before his first birthday, in 1879, leaving only George and Kate to survive into adulthood.
John’s wife, Mary, died in 1880, at the age of 40. He married again later in the same year, this time to a widow named Sarah Cave, neé Lawrence. John and Sarah lived together in Edmonton until she passed in 1913. John died in 1927 at the age of 86. John held a variety of jobs in his life, including labourer, carman (driver of horse drawn vehicle for transporting goods), gardener, and labourer at a gasworks. Some of today’s Casbans are descended from John, through his son George William. (Other Casbans descend from John’s brother, Samuel Clark Casban, who will be featured in a future post.)
I don’t know when John adopted the Casban spelling of his name. He used it for his first marriage to Ann Barnes in 1863, while still living in Meldreth. My theory is that he was taught to read and write during the seven years he spent in a boys’ reform school, and that he was taught to spell his name with the -ban ending.
Going back to the marriage record at the beginning of this post, you can see that the two witnesses to the ceremony were John’s brother and sister, “Ruben” Casben and Mary Ann Casban. Mary Ann was the first of the siblings to leave Meldreth, having acquired a job as a cook in a London public house by 1861. Mary Ann married a man named Joseph Sparrow in 1875. They continued to live in the Shoreditch and Hackney neighborhoods of London.
It isn’t known when Reuben left Meldreth for London, but it must have been before John’s wedding in 1866. Reuben was living in Kennington, a part of Lambeth, when he married Elizabeth Mary Neyland in February 1869. They remained in Lambeth for the rest of their lives.
It’s interesting to see that Reuben signed his name “Casben” on his brother’s marriage record and “Casban” on his own. He seems to have gone back and forth in his spelling for several years, but eventually settled on the -ben version, as evidenced by later records.
Like his father and brothers, Reuben started out as a labourer in Meldreth. After coming to Lambeth, he spent most of his life working for the railways, as a porter and horsekeeper. When the 1891 census was taken, he was working as a “grocer & Italian warehouseman.” The move to London did not mean that work would be less demanding physically.
Reuben and Elizabeth had nine children—five boys and four girls. All but one of them survived into adulthood. They were: William Thomas, born in 1871; Peter John, 1872; Leonard, 1874 (died 1875); Margaret Elizabeth, 1877; Florence, 1879; Elizabeth Mary, 1881; Ellen, 1883; Arthur, 1886; and Henry, 1888. Of the boys, only Arthur and Henry married and had families. Arthur (and sister Margaret) migrated to New South Wales, Australia, in the early 1900s. As a result, Reuben and Elizabeth have Casben descendants in both England and Australia today.
While it’s unknown why John, Reuben, and their sister, Mary Ann, left Meldreth, it was probably due to the economic and technological forces at work in Victorian England. Except for a minor boom in coprolite mining in the 1870s and 80s, Meldreth remained an agricultural backwater, while London and its environs were growing rapidly. The entrenched class system did not allow for upward mobility, but at least the move offered the possibility of a greater variety of job opportunities.
 Jon Casbon, “Going, Going …,” 1 Nov 18, Our Casbon Journey (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2018/11/01/going-going/ : accessed 19 November 2018).
 Parish of St. Mary, Lambeth (Surrey, England), Marriage Register, May-Oct 1866, p. 224, no. 448, John Casban & Mary Hall, 9 Oct 1866; imaged as “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1623 : accessed 22 March 2017), Lambeth >St Mary, Lambeth > 1865-1866 >image 492 of 505; citing London Metropolitan Archives, London.
 Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), Register of Marriages, 1837-75, p. 52, no. 104, John Casbon & Ann Barnes, 24 Jan 1863; imaged as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : accessed 29 August 2017), image 398 of 699; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 9.
 Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), Register of Baptisms, 1813–67, p. 96, no. 765, Eliza Ann Casbon, 5 Jun 1864; imaged as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : accessed 28 April 2017), image 245 of 699; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 5.
 “Lambeth,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambeth : accessed 19 November 2018), rev. 19 Nov 18, 12:02.
 Surrey, Map 3 (Southampton: Ordnance Survey Office, 1880); online image, National Library of Scotland (https://maps.nls.uk/view/102347415 : accessed 19 November 2018), Maps home >OS Six-inch England and Wales, 1942-1952.
 General Register Office, “Search the GRO Online Index,” database, HM Passport Office (https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp : accessed 19 November 2018), search on “Casban,” Edmonton, vol. 3A, pp. 198, 203, 251.
 Ibid, search on deaths, “Casban,” M[ar] qtr 1879, Edmonton, vol. 3A/164.
 Ibid, search on “Casban,” M[ar] qtr 1880, Edmonton, vol. 3A/151.
 St. Jude parish, Bethnal Green (Middlesex), Marriage Register, Mar 1880–Jun 1881, p. 111, no. 222, John Casban & Sarah Cave; imaged as as “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1623 : accessed 9 November 2015), Tower Hamlets >St Jude, Bethnal Green >1878-1881 >image 182 of 252; citing London Metropolitan Archives, London.
 General Register Office, “Search the GRO Online Index,” search on “Casban,” Sarah Casban, M[ar] qtr 1913, Edmonton, vol. 3A/697.
 Ibid, search on “Casban,” John Casban, M[ar] qtr 1927, Edmonton, vol. 3A/878.
 1861 England Census, Middlesex, Islington (Finsbury), population schedule, enumeration district 36, p. 55 (stamped), schedule 153, Mary Ann Cusbin in household of Richd Munford; imaged as “1861 England Census,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=8767 : accessed 19 November 2018), Middlesex >Islington >Islington East >District 36 >image 28 of 84; citing The National Archives, RG 9, piece 146, folio 55, p. 27.
 Middlesex, England, Parish of St. Lukes Finsbury, Marriage Register, 1871-6, p. 245, record no. 489, Joseph Sparrow and Mary Ann Casbon, 26 Dec 1875; imaged as “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1623 : accessed 10 Aug 2016), Islington >St Luke, Finsbury >1867-1881 >image 494 of 747; citing London Metropolitan Archives, record no. p76/luk/058.
 St Barnabas Church, South Kennington (Surrey, England), Marriage Register, 6 May 1867-21 Mar 1876, p. 47, no. 93, 24 Feb 1869, Renben Casbon & Elizabeth Mary Neyland; imaged as “London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1623 : accessed 22 March 2017), Lambeth >St Barnabas, South Lambeth >1851-1876 >image 297 of 479; citing London Metropolitan Archives, London.
 1891 England Census, London, population schedule, Lambeth, enumeration district 28, p. 4, schedule 19, 267 Wandsworth Rd., Reuben Cesban; imaged as “1891 England Census,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=6598 : accessed 20 November 2018), London >Lambeth >Kennington First >District 28 >image 5 of 54; citing The National Archives, RG 12, piece 401, folio 90, p. 4.
 General Register Office, “Search the GRO Online Index,” database, HM Passport Office (https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp : accessed 19 November 2018), search on births, “Casben,” “Casban,” Lambeth, vol. 1D, pp. 335, 428, 441, 442, 444, 448, 453, 466, 478.