The First Family of James Casbon in England

I have written about James Casbon (~1813–1884) many times, but most of my focus has been on his later years in England, his emigration to the United States, and his children who grew up there. However, he lived most of his life in England and had a large family there by his first wife, Elizabeth Waller. I have never told the stories of James’s and Elizabeth’s children. They would have been adults by the time James departed from England with his second family (wife, Mary, and their children) in 1870.

Technically, James’s living descendants in the United States—some of whom I know and correspond with—are closer in kinship to their English cousins than they are to me, since I am descended from James’s brother Thomas.

James Casbon, undated photo; courtesy of Ron Casbon

I’ll begin with a brief review of James’s and Elizabeth’s lives in England. James’s birthdate is not recorded, but from census records, it seems that he was probably born at Meldreth, Cambridgeshire in 1813 or 1814. Elizabeth Waller was born at Meldreth 11 September 1815 and baptized 15 October of that year, the daughter of William and Sarah (Johnson)
Waller.[1] James and Elizabeth were married at Meldreth 25 July 1835.[2] Elizabeth died of consumption (tuberculosis) 16 August 1852 at the age of 36.[3] James’s whereabouts after her death are unknown until he appears in the vicinity of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, sometime in the 1860s. He married his second wife, Mary Jackson, at Stretham, Cambridgeshire, in 1866.[4]

The immediate aftermath of Elizabeth’s death is unknown, but there is reason to believe that it had a catastrophic effect on the family. At least two of the children, and probably more, ended up at the local workhouse, a destination reserved for destitute families and paupers. By 1861, the first census after Elizabeth’s death, there is no trace of the family as a unit. Only one of the children can be found in that census with certainty. By then, many of them would have been old enough to enter the workforce, so it is not surprising that they cannot be found together. However, it is odd not to find them at all.

Here is a chart showing James, Elizabeth, and two generations of their descendants, followed by biographical sketches of their children.

Chart showing descendants of James and Elizabeth (Waller) Casbon, numbered by generation and arranged in birth order (Click on image to enlarge)

William Casbon (~1836–unknown)

I held off on writing this post until I knew the answer to the two-William problem. Now that I have the answer, I can be more confident in what I say about James’s eldest son, William.

The only certain records we have of William are the 1841 and 1851 censuses of Meldreth and Melbourn, respectively. His age is given as 5 in 1841 and 15 in 1851, giving an estimated birth year of 1836. The 1851 census also tells us that William had already entered the workforce as an agricultural labourer.

Detail from 1851 England census, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, showing James Casbon and his family; William, age 15, is highlighted ( (Click on image to enlarge)

After the 1851 census, the trail for William goes cold, or at least cool. I have found a few records that might pertain to him. The first is in a collection known as the “1861 Worldwide [British] Army Index” ( The collection includes a record for William Casbon, a private assigned to the 1st Battalion 20th (East Devonshire) Regiment of Foot in Gorakhpur, India.[5] I think this was probably James’s son, especially since he does not turn up elsewhere in the 1861 England census. Given the likely disruption of the family following his mother’s death, it’s plausible that William could have enlisted in the Army, perhaps after a stint in the workhouse.

There are two more interesting records. The first is the baptismal record of William Casbon, son of William Casbon and Lydia Lovely, at Whaddon (a village 1 ½ miles from Meldreth) in 1867 (no date given).[6] The child appears to have born out of wedlock in about 1860, based on his name being listed as William Lovely, age 11, in the 1871 census.[7] It’s plausible but not possible to prove that James’s son William was the father.

The second record is an 1869 criminal court record describing the conviction of Eliza Bacon, age 29, for “feloniously marrying Robert Bacon, her husband William Casbon being alive.”[8] This record might also refer to our William, but there is insufficient information to connect it to him with certainty. I have been unable to find any record of marriage or death for William.

Sarah Casbon (~1837–unknown)

The oldest daughter of James and Elizabeth, Sarah was baptized at Meldreth 8 October 1837.[9] She appears in the 1841 and 1851 censuses and then disappears from view. She would have been 14 years old when her mother died. I haven’t been able to find any further marriage, death, or census records for Sarah.

Lydia (Ann) Casbon (~1840–1885)

Lydia was baptized at Meldreth 20 December 1840.[10] She married, at Chester, Cheshire, 28 August 1859, Daniel Cross.[11] What was Lydia doing at Chester, more than 140 miles from Meldreth? One can surmise that she had found a position of some kind there, either as a servant or dressmaker (her occupation in the 1861 census). The parish marriage record gives Lydia’s father’s occupation as “farmer.” This was an exaggeration, since James was an agricultural labourer, a far cry from one who farmed his own land.

Lydia and Daniel had one son, William, born in 1867. Although I have not traced the family any further, it is evident from other Ancestry family trees that William had a large family. Thus, it is likely that Lydia and Daniel have living descendants today. Lydia’s burial is recorded at Chester on 8 May 1885.[12]

Mary Casbon (~1841–unknown)

Mary was baptized at Meldreth 19 December 1841.[13] Like several of her siblings, she disappears after the 1851 census. Given her age at the time of her mother’s death—about 11 years old—she might have spent some time in the Royston Union workhouse. While researching for this post, I came upon an 1861 census listing for Matilda Casbin, age 19, housemaid at a private home in Westminster St. Martin in the Fields, London.[14] Matilda’s birthplace is listed as Meldreth, Cambridgeshire. Given the last name, the birthplace, the fact that there are no other records for Matilda Casbon, and no other Casbons of that approximate age from Meldreth who are unaccounted for, I think this could be Mary.

Thomas Casbon (1844–1924)

Thomas was born at Meldreth 20 September 1844 and baptized there 15 June 1845.[15] He would have been 8 years old when his mother died. I haven’t found him for certain on the 1861 census, but I have previously written about my theory that Thomas and his father might have been listed in the 1861 census of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, under the surname Randle. Thomas appears in a few newspaper articles of the late 1860s and early 1870s for minor criminal offenses such as public drunkenness and trespassing. He is recorded in the 1871 census living at Barrington, Cambridgeshire (2 ½ miles from Meldreth) and working as a “coprolite labourer.”[16]

In 1878 Thomas married Sarah Ann Wyers, a former domestic servant from Mepal, Cambridgeshire.[17] The couple had eight children—all but one of them boys—ensuring continuation of the family name. Thomas worked as an agricultural labourer and lived the remainder of his life at Brangehill (possibly a farm), near Sutton, Cambridgeshire. His death was registered in October 1924.[18] He was 80 years old.

George Casbon (1846–1897)

George was born at Meldreth 28 November 1847 and baptized 16 March the following
year.[19] George was sent to the Royston Union workhouse, probably shortly after his mother’s death. I wrote about him recently, describing his arrest and brief imprisonment for running away and stealing clothes from the workhouse. I have found entries in the 1861 census listing for the Royston workhouse that I believe are for George and his younger brother, John. They are represented by the initials “C.G.” and “C.J.” (last initial/first initial) on the census form.[20]

Detail from 1861 England Census, Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, Royston Union Workhouse, showing entries for “C.G.,” age 14 and “C.J.,” age 13; in this listing, the first initial represents the surname ( (Click on image to enlarge)

I believe he can be also found in the 1871 census as “George Carswell,” age 24, birthplace Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, residing in the Army barracks at Stoke Damerel,
Devonshire.[21] This suspicion is supported by the description of George’s occupation in the 1881 census as “formerly a soldier.”

George married Sarah Pearse in 1881[22] and the couple settled in Fowlmere, a small village about 3 miles from Meldreth. He was listed there as a farm labourer in 1891.[23] George and Sarah had a son and four daughters. Notably, all four of the daughters became domestic servants, one of the few options available to girls from the lower classes. One of these daughters, Hilda Mary Casbon (1887–1921), being unmarried, gave up her son, George, for adoption. George was later shipped to Canada as one of thousands of “British Home Children.”

George, the subject of this sketch, died at Fowlmere 18 October 1897 at the age of 51.[24]

John Casbon (1849–1935)

John was born at Meldreth 10 February 1849, three years before his mother’s death.[25] I believe he was also sent to the Royston Union workhouse, where he is listed as “C. J.” in the 1861 census. In the 1871 census, he is listed as an agricultural labourer at Meldreth.[26] In 1890 he married Sarah Pepper, a local woman who previously worked as a servant and cook in London.[27] John and Sarah lived on Drury Lane in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, for their entire married lives and had no children. By 1911, his occupation was listed as “shepherd.”[28] John died in 1935[29] and Sarah in 1938.[30]

Emma Casbon (1851–1853)

Emma’s birthdate is not recorded, but her age was recorded as 2 years old when she died of “fever” at the Royston Union workhouse on 4 November 1853.[31]

Death registration of Emma Casbon, Union Workhouse Bassingbourn (Royston), 2 years old; cause of death “Fever” (Click on image to enlarge)

Her baptismal record of 13 August 1852—three days before her mother’s death—is marked “Private,” meaning the ceremony was performed somewhere besides the parish church—most likely at home.[32] Given the timing, this was probably done so that her terminally ill mother could be present at the ceremony, perhaps as a dying wish. The location of Emma’s death—the workhouse—is the most visible and poignant indication of the consequences of Elizabeth’s death. Without his wife, James, a poor labourer, no longer had the resources to care for his family. We don’t know when or how many of James’s children were admitted to the workhouse, but in Emma’s case, it was probably quite soon after Elizabeth’s death.

[1] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), register of baptisms (1813–1867), p. 8, no. 57; accessed as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” browsable images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 April 2017), image 201 of 699; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 5.
[2] Parish of Meldreth, register of marriages (1813–1837), p. 34, no. 100; accessed as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 Aug 2017), image 363; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 8.
[3] England, General Register Office (GRO), death registration (unofficial copy), Royston & Buntingford/Melbourn, 1852, no. 117; PDF copy, author’s collection.
[4] “Stretham Marriages 1558 – 1952,” PDF extract, database,  Cambridgeshire Family History Society ( : downloaded 2 September 2017), >Casben >Stretham >Stretham Marriages 1558 – 1952, James Casben & Mary Jackson, 3 Nov 1866; citing Stretham (Cambridgeshire) parish records.
[5] “British Army, Worldwide Index 1861,” database, Findmypast ( : accessed 11 Nov 2016).
[6] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch ( : 6 December 2014).
[7] 1871 England census, Cambridgeshire, Bassingbourn, ED 4, p. 13 (65 stamped), schedule 60, William Lovely in the household of John Willshire; imaged at Ancestry (( : accessed 29 Sep 20) >Cambridgeshire >Bassingbourne >ALL >4 >images 13-4 of 26; citing The National Archives, RG 10/1361.
[8] Central Criminal Court Calendar of Prisoners in Her Majesty’s Gaol of Newgate, Third Session, Commencing Monday, 20th of September, 1869, p. 10, no. 20; imaged in “England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935,” Findmypast (, image 171 of 236.
[9] Parish of Meldreth, register of baptisms (1813–1867), p. 49, no. 390.
[10] Parish of Meldreth, register of baptisms (1813–1867), p. 54, no. 430.
[11] Holy Trinity parish, Chester, Cheshire, England, p. 173, item 2; imaged as “Cheshire Diocese of Chester parish marriages 1538-1910,” Findmypast (
[12] Parish of Christleton, Burials 1885, Refe. item 2,, p 15 Record group Part 1 – 1; imaged as “Cheshire Diocese Of Chester Parish Burials 1538-1911,” Findmypast ( :accessed 8 Nov 2016).
[13] Parish of Meldreth, register of baptisms (1813–1867), p. 55, no. 437.
[14] 1861 England census, Middlesex, Westminster St. Martin in the Fields, Charing Cross, ED 10, p. 12, Matilda Casbin in the household of Lydia A. Knight; Ancestry ( : accessed 1 Oct 20) >Middlesex >Westminster St Martin in the Fields >Charing Cross >District 10 >image 13 of 29.
[15] England, General Register Office, birth registration (unofficial copy), certificate no. BCA205377, Royston & Buntingford district, Melbourne sub-district, no. 230, 20 Sep 1844; author’s collection. Parish of Meldreth, register of baptisms (1813–1867), p. 61, no. 487.
[16] 1871 England census, Cambridgeshire, Barrington, ED 2, p. 14, schedule 52; imaged as “1871 England Census,” Ancestry ( : accessed 23 Aug 20) >Cambridgeshire >Barrington >ALL >2 >image 15 of 31.
[17] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837–2005”, FamilySearch ( 13 December 2014).
[18] “England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837–2007,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 September 2015); Ely, 3d qtr 1924, vol. 3B/144.
[19] Parish of Meldreth, register of baptisms (1813–1867), p. 63, no. 501.
[20] 1861 England census, Cambridgeshire, Bassingbourn, enumeration district 5, p 77(stamped), verso (6th page of Royston Union Workhouse); Ancestry ( : accessed 24 April 2020) >Cambridgeshire >Bassingbourn >District 5 >image 23 of 25.
[21] 1871 England census, Devon, Stoke Damerel, St. Aubyn, Raglan barracks, p. 81 (verso), line 10; imaged as “1871 England Census,” Ancestry ( : accessed 23 Aug 2020) >Devon >Stoke Damerel >St Aubyn >Raglan Barracks >image 37 of 57.
[22] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 September 2015), George Casbon, 1881; from “England & Wales Marriages, 1837-2005,” database, findmypast ( : 2012); citing Marriage, Colchester, Essex, England, General Register Office.
[23] 1891 England census, Cambridgeshire, Fowlmere, ED 6, p. 14, schedule 86; imaged as “1891 England Census,” Ancestry ( : accessed 23 Aug 2020) >Cambridgeshire >Fowlmere >ALL >District 6 >image 15 of 20.
[24] “Deaths,” Saffron Walden (Essex) Weekly News, 22 Oct 1897, p. 8, col. 8; accessed through “British Newspaper Collection,”  findmypast ( : accessed 14 September 2017).
[25] Parish of Meldreth, register of baptisms (1813–1867), p. 68, no. 540.
[26] 1871 England census, Cambridgeshire, Meldreth, ED 15, p. 6, schedule32; ; imaged as “1871 England Census,” Ancestry ( : accessed 24 Aug 20) >Cambridgeshire >Meldreth >ALL >15 >image 7 of 32.
[27] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837–2005”, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 Apr 20); Royston, 1st qtr, vol. 3A/352.
[28] 1911 England census, Cambridgeshire, Melbourn, ED 9, schedule 82; imaged as “1911 England Census,” Ancestry ( : accessed 24 Aug 2020) >Hertfordshire >Melbourn >ALL >09 >image 168 of 299.
[29] England and Wales, “Search the GRO [General Register Office] Online Index,” HM Passport Office ( : accessed 30 Sep 20); entry for John James Casbon, age 85, 1st qtr 1935, Cambridge, vol. 3B/564.
[30] “Search the GRO [General Register Office] Online Index,” ( : accessed 30 Sep 20); entry for Sarah Casbon, age 88, 1st qtr 1938, Cambridgeshire, vol. 3B/553>
[31] England, death registration (unofficial copy), Dec qtr 1853, Royston & Buntingford District, vol. 3A/107, Melbourn Sub-district, no. 319; General Register Office (GRO), Southport.
[32] Parish of Meldreth, register of baptisms (1813–1867), p. 75, no. 599.

Digging into the Aylesworth Story

My last post introduced the Aylesworth family and described the two marriages that tied the Casbon and Aylesworth names together: Sylvester Casbon and Mary Adaline Aylesworth, married in 1860, and Amos Casbon and Carrie Belle Aylesworth, married in 1900. Today I delve more deeply into the history of the Aylesworth family and how their story converged with that of the Casbon family.

I refer once again to the diagram I introduced in the last post, showing how the Aylesworths of Porter County, Indiana, descended from Arthur1 Aylworth, the original immigrant from England. The superscript numbers in the chart (“Arthur1”) represent the respective generations of each person. In order to minimize confusion, I am using generation numbers corresponding to those in the diagram throughout the post.

Descendancy chart of the Aylesworth family, beginning with the original immigrant, Arthur1 Aylworth and ending with Carrie Belle9 and Mary Adaline7 Aylesworth in their respective branches (Click on image to enlarge)

First, let me say a few words about spelling. In the diagram, I’ve followed the spelling conventions used in the Aylesworth Family genealogy, using the Aylworth spelling for the first five generations and Aylesworth for later generations.[1] In fact, as was typical of the times, many different spellings are found in records, each spelling being determined arbitrarily by whomever made the entry in a given record. Thus, we see Aleworth, Aylsworth, Aulsworth, and Elsworth, among many others. Today’s Aylesworth spelling became fixed sometime in the 19th century. That said, the editors of History of Porter County spelled the name as Ellsworth when the book was published in 1912.[2]

It is unknown when Arthur1 Aylworth, the original immigrant from England, arrived in the New World. However, it must have been sometime before 29 July 1679, because on that date his name appears on a list of signatures in a petition from the inhabitants of Narragansett country [Rhode Island] to King Charles II of England.

Arthur1 Aylesworth’s name, seen in this detail from “Copy of a Petition of the Inhabitants of Narragansett Country, King’s Province, to King Charles II,” 29 Jul 1679; Yale University Library, Digital Collections ( (Click on image to enlarge)

Arthur1 settled in an area known as Quidnessett, now part of North Kingston Township in Washington County, Rhode Island.[3] His son Arthur2 lived in what is now West Greenwich Township.[4] Philip3, grandson of the first Arthur, moved to Coventry Township in about 1745.[5] His son, Philip4 Jr., left Coventry and lived in Pownal, Vermont, for several years before migrating to Milford, Otsego County, New York.[6] John5 Aylworth, the common ancestor of Mary Adaline7 and Carrie Belle9 Aylesworth, was born in Rhode Island. Like his father, he ended up in Milford, New York, where he died in about 1810.[7]

Elizabeth (Humphrey) Aylesworth, the widow of John5, and two of her adult sons, Ira6 and Philip6, moved from New York to Ohio, beginning in about 1815. We are told that Elizabeth, with her children, moved to “Ashland or Wayne Co., Ohio, or perhaps near the line dividing these two counties, where she died.”[8] Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any trace of Elizabeth in Ohio records. She does not appear in census, marriage, or death records. However, both Ira6 and Philip6 can be found in the 1820 Ohio census of Wayne County, living in Pike and Mohican Townships, respectively. Giles6, the younger brother of Ira and Philip, does not appear in the census until 1840, when he was living in Prairie Township, Holmes County (immediately south of Wayne County).[9]

Giles6 was the first member of the family to move to Indiana. We are told that in the autumn of 1842 he “moved here [Porter County, Indiana] with his wife and 5 children. He brought 2 wagons, household goods, various tools, grub hoe, axe and musket. Sealed in a false bottom of a dinner bucket was $2,000 in gold with which he bought the farm.”[10] His daughter Mary Adaline7, having been born in April 1842, must have been only a few months old when the family made the move. Giles’s6 brother Philip6 bought a 160-acre tract of land in Porter County in 1842, but he never moved to Indiana. Instead, he sold the land to his son Ira B.7 Aylesworth, who came to Porter County in 1845.[11]

Detail from a map of the northeastern United States, showing the locations associated with the Aylesworth
family, beginning with Arthur1 and ending with Giles’s6 and Ira B.7; approximate locations: 1. Quidnessett,
Rhode Island; 2. Pownal, Vermont; 3. Milford, New York; 4. Wayne County, Ohio; 5. Porter County, Indiana;
adapted from A.K. Johnston, “Map of part of North America to illustrate the naval and military
events of 1812-13-14,” (London: William Blackwood & Son, 1852); David Rumsey Map Collection (

Thomas Casbon arrived in Wayne County, Ohio, from England in 1846, and later moved to Holmes County. Presumably, Thomas and his family met members of the Aylesworth family who were still living in Ohio. After Thomas’s son Sylvester completed his education, he “taught one term at Mt. Ollie [sic. Olive], Ohio. Then acting under the persuasion of a friend Mr. Ellsworth [my emphasis], who had settled in Porter County, Indiana, and also from his own wish to locate further west, Mr. Casbon came to this [Porter] county in 1859 and began teaching in what was known as the Ellsworth school, which he conducted successfully for three terms.”

The identity of “Mr. Ellsworth” is unknown to me. It seems unlikely that he would have been either Giles6 or Ira B.7 Aylesworth, since they had already been living in Indiana for many years. It seems more likely that he would have been a contemporary who grew up with Sylvester in Ohio and then later moved to Porter County. Two likely candidates are the brothers Elias8 and Sylvenus8 Aylesworth, who were nephews of Ira B.7 Aylesworth. They were born in 1834 and 1836, respectively,[12] and moved to Porter County from Wayne County, Ohio, sometime between the 1850 and 1860 censuses.

The exact identity and location of the “Ellsworth school” is also unknown to me, but my best guess is that it was located near the north line of Section 9 in Boone Township, near what is now the intersection of S 225 W and W 700 S. An 1875 plat map of the township (the oldest available to me) shows a school at that location on land owned by Ira B.7 Aylesworth.

Detail from a plat map of Boone Township, Porter County, Indiana, 1876, showing location of the district 1 school (circled) and outline of lands owned by Giles6 and Ira B.7 Aylesworth at the time; from “Boone Township Maps,” Porter County Indiana (GenWeb), ( (Click on image to enlarge)

Sylvester Casbon would have been teaching at this school when he met his bride-to-be, Mary Adaline7Aylesworth. It is even possible that he was living in one of the Aylesworth households at the time.

Amos Casbon was only two years old when arrived in Porter County directly from England (via New York City) in early 1871. I don’t know how or when Amos and Carrie Belle9 Aylesworth met and began their courtship. Amos had a hard life in his early years, especially after his father, James, died in 1884. He probably worked on several farms during this time and might have met Carrie Belle in the course of his work.

How does all of this pertain to Our Casbon Journey? Well, I guess the point is that family history doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Even though the emphasis of this blog is on the history of the Casbon family, that history is affected at every point by the histories of other families. Perhaps, in knowing how we are connected through our ancestors, we can achieve a greater sense of connection with our living, but more distant, relatives. The fact that descendants of both Sylvester and Amos Casbon—now third, fourth, and fifth cousins, once removed—share a connection through the Aylesworth family gives us one more thing in common and hopefully binds us more closely together.

[1] Howard Aylesworth, Aylesworth Family, 2d ed., updated and reprinted by Joyce Knauff, et al. (Privately printed, 1984).
[2] History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1912).
[3] Homer Elhanan Aylsworth, Arthur Aylsworth and His Descendents in America (Providence, R.I.: Narragansett Historical Publishing Co., 1887), p. 36; online image, Internet Archive ( : accessed 1 January 2019).
[4] Arthur Aylsworth and His Descendants, p. 42.
[5] Arthur Aylsworth and His Descendants, p. 50.
[6] Arthur Aylsworth and His Descendants, p. 71.
[7] Arthur Aylsworth and His Descendants, p. 112.
[8] Arthur Aylsworth and His Descendants, p. 112.
[9] 1840 U.S. census. Holmes County, Ohio, Prairie Township, p. 228, line 10 (FamilySearch)
[10] “Transcribed Biography of Aylesworth,” Porter County, Indiana (GenWeb) ( : accessed 1 January 2018); citing Mrs. John C Aylesworth, “Aylesworth Family of Porter County,” in American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County, A Biographical History of Porter County, Indiana (Valparaiso, Indiana: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County, Inc., 1976), p. 76.
[11] “Transcribed Biography of Aylesworth.”
[12] Arthur Aylsworth and His Descendants, p. 431.

New Homes, New Names

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.[1] 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.

Marriage record of John Casban to Mary Hall, St. Mary Parish, Lambeth, Surrey, 9 October 1866.[2]
(Click on image to enlarge)
We can see that John was a widower. He was married in 1863 to Ann Barnes, in Meldreth.[3] She died in Meldreth in April 1864. Their daughter, Eliza Ann, was baptized in Meldreth on June 4, 1864.[4] 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.[5] It is south of the City of London and the River Thames, and east of Westminster.

Detail of map showing Lambeth (area east of River Thames) and Westminster (west of Thames).[6] St. Mary’s church is circled. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland. (Click on image to enlarge)
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.[7] Eliza died in 1873, and young Edward died before his first birthday, in 1879, leaving only George and Kate to survive into adulthood.[8]

Detail from 1881 England Census, Tottenham, showing John and his family. (Click on image to enlarge)

John’s wife, Mary, died in 1880, at the age of 40.[9] He married again later in the same year, this time to a widow named Sarah Cave, neé Lawrence.[10] John and Sarah lived together in Edmonton until she passed in 1913.[11] John died in 1927 at the age of 86.[12] 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.[13] Mary Ann married a man named Joseph Sparrow in 1875.[14] 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.[15] They remained in Lambeth for the rest of their lives.

Marriage record of “Ruben” Casban & Elizabeth Mary Neyland, St Barnabas Church, South Kennington,
Surrey, 24 Feb 1869. (Click on image to enlarge)

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.”[16] 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.[17] 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.

Detail from 1891 England census, Lambeth, showing Reuben and his family. (Click on image to enlarge)

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.

[1] Jon Casbon, “Going, Going …,” 1 Nov 18, Our Casbon Journey ( : accessed 19 November 2018).
[2] 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 ( : accessed 22 March 2017), Lambeth >St Mary, Lambeth > 1865-1866 >image 492 of 505; citing London Metropolitan Archives, London.
[3] 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 ( : accessed 29 August 2017), image 398 of 699; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 9.
[4] 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 ( : accessed 28 April 2017), image 245 of 699; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 5.
[5] “Lambeth,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 19 November 2018), rev. 19 Nov 18, 12:02.
[6] Surrey, Map 3 (Southampton: Ordnance Survey Office, 1880); online image, National Library of Scotland ( : accessed 19 November 2018), Maps home >OS Six-inch England and Wales, 1942-1952.
[7] General Register Office, “Search the GRO Online Index,” database, HM Passport Office ( : accessed 19 November 2018), search on “Casban,” Edmonton, vol. 3A, pp. 198, 203, 251.
[8] Ibid, search on deaths, “Casban,” M[ar] qtr 1879, Edmonton, vol. 3A/164.
[9] Ibid, search on “Casban,” M[ar] qtr 1880, Edmonton, vol. 3A/151.
[10] 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 ( : accessed 9 November 2015), Tower Hamlets >St Jude, Bethnal Green >1878-1881 >image 182 of 252; citing London Metropolitan Archives, London.
[11] General Register Office, “Search the GRO Online Index,” search on “Casban,” Sarah Casban, M[ar] qtr 1913, Edmonton, vol. 3A/697.
[12] Ibid, search on “Casban,” John Casban, M[ar] qtr 1927, Edmonton, vol. 3A/878.
[13] 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 ( : 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.
[14] 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 ( : accessed 10 Aug 2016), Islington >St Luke, Finsbury >1867-1881 >image 494 of 747; citing London Metropolitan Archives, record no. p76/luk/058.
[15] 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 ( : accessed 22 March 2017), Lambeth >St Barnabas, South Lambeth >1851-1876 >image 297 of 479; citing London Metropolitan Archives, London.
[16] 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 ( : 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.
[17] General Register Office, “Search the GRO Online Index,” database, HM Passport Office ( : accessed 19 November 2018), search on births, “Casben,” “Casban,” Lambeth, vol. 1D, pp. 335, 428, 441, 442, 444, 448, 453, 466, 478.


CHATTERIS, a parish and market town in the hundred of North Witchford, in the county of Cambridge, 26 miles N.W. of Cambridge, and 7 S. of March. It is a station on the Ely and Peterborough railway, and is situated on the river Ouse. Alwina, wife of Athelstan, and niece of King Edgar, founded a convent of Benedictines about a.D. 980, which was in Henry VIII’s. reign wholly suppressed. The place is mentioned in Domesday Survey under the name of Cateriz, or Cetriz. Tho living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely, val. £1,500, in the patron. of W. Hawkins, Esq. The church, dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul, is a handsome edifice. … The town was made a market town in 1834; and a court-leet and petty sessions are held here. The Bishop of Ely is lord of the manor. A large number of Roman coins and curious relics have been found at various times, and not many years since part of the skeleton of an elephant.[1]
OS map 16 1903 Detail from Ordnance Survey of England and Wales, Sheet 16, 1:253,440, 1903. Chatteris is near the top of the map. This work incorporates historical material provided by the Great Britain Historical GIS Project and the University of Portsmouth through their web site A Vision of Britain through Time ( (Click on image to enlarge)

Partial map of England showing approximate area encompassed by detail map, above; adapted from Google Maps™ (

In my wanderings through various online archives, I discovered a number of Casbon entries from the parish of Chatteris. The name first appears in the 1851 census with an entry for Sarah Casbon, age 30, and her four children.[2] It turns out that this is a misspelling of their correct surname, Casburn, which appears in almost every other available record. The Casburn spelling is strongly associated with the parish of Burwell in Cambridgeshire. It turns out that Sarah’s husband, John Thomas Casburn, was born in Burwell.[3] He served as the butler to the principal landowner and member of Parliament for Chatteris.[4] I have not found any connection between the Casburns of Burwell and modern-day Casbons.

But then, the Casbon spelling pops up again in three separate entries in the 1881 England census.[5],[6],[7]

Details from 1881 England Census, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire (Click on images to enlarge)

These 3 entries show respectively: Lester (misspelled) Casbon and his family; Harry Casbon in the home of Emma Allpress; and Harriet Casbon and her children, Rosa, Mary A, Harriet and Arthur, in the home of Ann Weaton. We can see that Lester is listed as the head of his household. Harry is Emma Allpress’ grandson, and Harriet is Ann Weaton’s daughter. It will take some backtracking to show how they are related.

It starts with a man named John Casbon, who married Emma Taylor in 1841.[8] John was a cordwainer, or shoemaker.[9] John and Emma had three children: Lester, born in 1842;[10] Sarah Ann, in 1844;[11] and John, in 1846.[12] Later census records tell us that all three children were born in Colne, Huntingdonshire (see map above). John, the father’s, death at age 30, was registered in 1848.[13] I haven’t found any record of John’s birth or birthplace, so the trail goes cold there.

After John’s death, Emma married a man named John Allpress.[14] The expanded family appears in the 1851 census, living in Somersham, Huntingdonshire (see map above).[15]

Detail from 1851 census, Somersham, Huntingdonshire (Click on image to enlarge)

Lester, Sarah Ann, and John are all shown with their surname spelled Casbey.

Sometime before 1861, John and Emma Allpress moved from Somersham to Chatteris.[16] Emma’s sons, Lester and John, raised their families and remained in Chatteris the rest of their lives. Daughter Sarah Ann is lost to follow up after 1861, although I have an intriguing theory about her fate (teaser for a future post!).

Lester married Julia Ann Mould, a Chatteris native, in 1871.[17] Lester and Julia had the following children:

Elizabeth Ann, born 29 Jan 1872[18]
Charles William, born 1 Sep 1873[19]
Emma, born 14 August 1873[20]
Alfred Lester, born 1880, died 1880[21],[22]

Lester and his entire family are seen in the 1881 census entry, above. Lester died in the Chatteris area in 1925; his wife Julia had died one year earlier.[23]

John married Harriet Davis, also a Chatteris native, in 1868.[24] They had the following children:

Rose Ann, born 1868[25]
Mary, born 1871[26]
Harriet, born 1874[26]
Arthur, born 1878[27]
Harry, born 1882[28]
William, born 1887[29]

John’s wife, Harriet, is seen in the 1881 census, above. John’s whereabouts in the 1881 census are unknown, but he is present with the rest of the family in subsequent censuses. John and his wife Harriet both died (probably) in 1931.[30],[31]

To the best of my knowledge, none of the male descendants had children of their own, so there are no living Casbon-surname descendants of this branch of the family. However, there are likely many descendants from Lester and John’s married daughters. My father corresponded with a descendant of Rose Ann (Casbon) Foster, 20+ years ago. If any descendants are reading this post, I hope they will contact me.

Since I haven’t been able to trace the origins of Lester and John’s father, I don’t know whether or how this branch of the Casbon-surname family is connected to other branches of the family. Burwell is a potential point of origin, considering that many records use the Casburn spelling. There is also a strong geographic connection to the Peterborough Casbons. Thomas Casbon (~1776–1855), was living about 5 miles from Chatteris in 1812, and was living in Colne, Huntingdonshire (where Lester, John, and Sarah Ann were born in the 1840s) in 1851.[32],[33] His son, Thomas (1807–1863), lived in Warboys, about 5 miles from Colne, in 1841, before moving to Peterborough.[34] His wife, Jane, was born in Chatteris.[35] DNA testing would be necessary to determine whether the Chatteris and Peterborough branches are related.

The observant reader will note that I have not discussed Harry Casbon, shown in the 1881 census, above, with his grandmother Emma (Casbon) Allpress. He is not the son of either Lester or John. Who does that leave? I will save his story for a future post.

[1] Adapted from: N.E.S.A. Hamilton, ed., The National Gazeteer of Great Britain and Ireland; or, Topographical Dictionary of the British Isles (London: James S. Virtue, 1868), vol. 3: 541; online image, Hathi Trust Digital Library (;view=1up;seq=91 : accessed 28 January 2018).
[2] “1851 Census of England,” database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 January 2018), Sarah Casbon (age 30), Cambridgeshire, Chatteris, Wenney(?) End, schedule 65; citing The National Archives, HO 107, HO 107, piece 1765/337, p. 17.
[3] “1861 Census of England,” database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 26 January 2018), John Casburn in household of John Dunn Gardner, Middlesex, St George Hanover Square, schedule 152, 122 Park St; citing The National Archives, RG 9/45/76/30.
[4] “1861 Census of England,” Ancestry, John Casburn in household of John Dunn Gardner.
[5] 1881 Census of England, population schedule, database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 January 2018), Lecester Casbon, Cambridgeshire, Chatteris, Bridge St, schedule 23; citing The National Archives, RG 11/1689/34/5.
[6] “1881 Census of England,” Ancestry ( : accessed 27 January 2018), Harriet Casbon in household of Ann Weaton, Cambridgeshire, Chatteris, Bridge St., schedule 36; citing The National Archives, RG 11/1689/35/7.
[7] 1881 Census of England, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 January 2018), Harry Casbon in household of Emma Allpress, Cambridgeshire, Chatteris, Bridge St. schedule 35; citing The National Archives RG 11/1689/35/7.
[8] “England & Wales Marriages 1837-2008,” database, findmypast ( : accessed 13 Feb 2017), John Casbon & Emma Taylor, 3d quarter, 1841, St. Ives, Huntingdonshire, vol. 14/263.
[9] “Cambridgeshire Marriages,”database, findmypast ( : accessed 13 February 2017), John Casburn, father, in marriage of John Casburn & Harriet Davis, 19 Jul 1868, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire; citing transcription by Cambridge Family History Society.
[10] “Search the GRO [General Register Office] Online Index,” database, HM Passport Office ( : accessed 3 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Casbon” (or similar) “1842 +/- 2 years,” Lester Carbon, S[ep] qtr, 1841, mother’s maiden name Taylor, St Ives Union, vol. 14/197.
[11] “Search the GRO Online Index,” HM Passport Office (accessed 24 Jan 2018),birth, search terms: “Casbon” (or similar) “1844 +/- 2 yrs,” Sarah Ann Caston, S qtr, 1844, mother’s maiden name Taylor, St Ives Union, vol. 14/8.
[12] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 24 January 2018),birth, search terms: “Casbon” “1846 +/- 2 yrs,” Casbon John, J[un] qtr, 1846, mother’s maiden name Taylor, St Ives Union, vol. 14/239.
[13] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 4 January 2018), death, search terms: “Casborn” “John” “1848,” Casborn, John (age 30), M[arch] quarter, 1848, St Ives, vol. 14:178.
[14] “England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915,” database, Ancestry ( : accessed 29 January 2018), search terms: “Emma” “Cas*” “1850,” Emma Caseby, 2nd qtr, 1850, St. Ives, Huntingdonshire; citing General Register Office, London.
[15] “1851 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” database with images, findmypast ( : accessed 11 November 2016).
[16] 1861 Census of England, population schedule, database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 January 2018), Emma Allpress, Cambridgeshire, Chatteris, Slade End, schedule 51; citing The National Archives, RG 9/1043/34/8.
[17] “Cambridgeshire Marriages,” database, findmypast ( : accessed 13 February 2017), Lester Casburn (signs Casban) & Julia Ann Mould, 5 Jul 1871, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.
[18] “Cambridgeshire Baptisms,” database/transcriptions, findmypast ( : accessed 30 January 2018), Elizabeth Ann Casburn, born 29 Jan 1872, baptized 25 Feb 1872, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire; citing transcriptions of parish records by Cambridge Family History Society.
[19] “Chatteris Baptisms 1600-1955,” database with transcriptions, accessed via “Ancestry Finder,” on Cambridgshire Family History Society ( : accessed 30 January 2018), search terms: “Casburn” “Chatteris” “Chatteris Baptisms 1600-1955, additional search terms: “Charles” “1873,” Casburn, Charles William, b. 1 Sep 1873, baptized 17 Apr 1878; citing parish records. This is a subscription web site that provides transcriptions of parish records in exchange for tokens which can be purchased.
[20] “Chatteris Baptisms 1600-1955,” accessed via “Ancestry Finder,” on Cambridgshire Family History Society ( : accessed 30 January 2018), search terms: “Casburn” “Chatteris” “Chatteris Baptisms 1600-1955, additional search terms: “Emma” “1878,” Casburn, Emma, b. 14 Aug 1877, baptized 17 Apr 1878.
[21] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 20 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Casburn” “male” “1880,” Casburn, Alfred Lester, D[ec] qtr, 1880, N. Witchford, vol. 3B/544.
[22] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 20 January 2018), death, search terms: “Casburn” “1880,” Casburn Alfred Lester D[ec] qtr, 1880, North Witchford, vol 3B/374.
[23] “Chatteris Burials 1600-1946,” accessed via “Ancestry Finder,” on Cambridgshire Family History Society ( : accessed 31 January 2018), search terms: “Casbon” “Chatteris” “Chatteris Burials 1600-1946,” Casbon Julia Ann (age 74), 12 Feb 1924, and Casbon, Lester (age 84), 13 Aug 1925; citing transcriptions of parish records by Cambridge Family History Society.
[24] “Cambridgeshire Marriages,”database, findmypast ( : accessed 13 February 2017), John Casburn & Harriet Davis, 19 Jul 1868, Chatteris.
[25] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 25 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Davis” “Rose” “female” “1868,” Davis, Rose Ann, M[ar] qtr, 1868, North Witchford, mother’s maiden name (blank).
[26] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 25 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Casbon” “female” “1872 +/- 2 yrs,” Casbon, Mary Ann, S[ep] qtr 1871 and Casbon, Harriet, M[ar] qtr 1874, North Witchford, mother’s maiden name Davis.
[27] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 25 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Casbon” “male” (mother’s maiden name)“Davis” “1876 +/- 2 yrs,” Casbon, Arthur, S[ep] qtr, 1878, North Witchford.
[28] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 25 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Casburn” “male” “1882 +/- 2 yrs,” Casburn, Harry, J[un] qtr, 1882, North Witchford, mother’s maiden name Davis.
[29] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 25 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Casburn” “male” “1886 +/- 2 yrs,” Casburn, William, M[ar] qtr, 1887, North Witchford, mother’s maiden name Davis.
[30] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 27 January 2018), death, search terms: “Casbon” “male” “1931,” John Casbon (age 88), M[ar] qtr, 1931, Peterborough, vol. 3B/286.
[31] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 27 January 2018), death, search terms: “Casbon” “female” “1931,” Harriet Casbon (age 87), M[ar] qtr, 1931, Peterborough, vol. 3B/286.
[32] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 Dec 2016), Sarah Caseben, 1812, Bluntisham cum Earith, Huntingdonshire; citing , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City, FHL microfilm 1,040,598.
[33] “1851 Census of England,” population schedule, database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 31 January 2018), Thomas Casbon in household of William Harrop, Huntingdonshire, Colne, Church Lane, schedule 85; citing The National Archives, HO 107, piece 1749, folio 233, p. 20.
[34] “1841 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” database with images, findmypast ( : accessed 31 March 2017), entry for Thomas Casbourn, Huntingdonshire, Warboys, Mill Green, line 1; citing [The National Archives], HO 107, piece 449, book 5, folio 25, p. 6.
[35] “1861 Census of Engand, Wales & Scotland,” database with images, findmypast ( : accessed 5 August 2016), entry for Jane Casbon in household of Thomas Casbon, Northamptonshire, Peterborough, Marquis Grandby, schedule 187; citing [The National Archives], enumeration district 12, RG 09, piece 966, folio 21, p. 35.

“Rags” to Riches

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

(Click on image to enlarge)

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

Here’s what I know about Wilfred Arthur.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Click on image to enlarge)

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

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

Give me an “a”…

The story of Samuel Clark Casban reflects the social and economic changes that were sweeping England in the mid- to late- 19th century.

He was baptized with the surname Casbon in February 1852, [1] the third son and sixth of seven children born to William (b. abt. 1805 in Royston) and Ann (Clark) (b. abt 1810 in Heyden, Essex) Casbon.

Baptismal record of Samuel Clark Casbon from Meldreth Parish Register (Click on image to enlarge)

His brother Reuben was mentioned in “Australia-bound” as first to use the Casben spelling of the name, and the father of Arthur Casben, who emigrated to Australia.

This diagram shows Reuben and Samuel are related to some of the other “Meldreth Casbons” I have discussed in earlier posts.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Like most of the early Meldreth Casbons, Samuel’s father William was listed as an “Agricultural Labourer” on census documents, meaning he did not own land, and worked for wages. In this 1861 census, you can see that 9-year old Samuel (“S Carsbon”) and his two older brothers John and Reuben had “Lab” – short for Labourer – listed as their occupations. Only 6-year old sister Martha was not working, and listed as “Scholar.” This was pretty typical for lower-class families in rural England at the time.

Detail from 1861 Census of England and Wales, Meldreth (Click on image to enlarge)

In the 1871 census, Samuel had an unusual job. He was listed as a “Coprolite digger.” Coprolite was a generic term for fossilized material that was high in phosphate content. Phosphate was used as a fertilizer. When it was learned that certain fossils contained high concentrations of phosphate, a short-lived boom occurred in those areas where the fossils could be found, including South Cambridgeshre, where Meldreth is located. The Meldreth Local History website has a good article  about this industry if you’re interested in learning more about it.

Coprolite miners in Orwell, near Meldreth, 1890s; image used with permission,

Coprolite digging was hard, dirty work, but it probably paid better than agricultural labor.

Whether he was financially better off or not, in 1872 he married Lydia Harrup of nearby Melbourne. [2] Lydia had her own experiences with child labor. In 1861 at the age of 8, she was employed in a worsted woolen mill in Yorkshire. [3]

Detail from 1861 Census of England and Wales, showing entry for Lydia Harrop (Click on image to enlarge)

Samuel and Lydia’s first two children, Anne (b. about 1873) and Samuel C (b. December 1873), were baptized in Melbourn. [4] Sometime between 1874 and 1880, they moved to Croydon, Surrey, then a suburb south of London (now part of London proper), where Samuel had a new job as a “Railway goods shunter.” [5] A shunter in railway employee who “couples and uncouples railway vehicles to enable them to be moved into position and marshalled (i.e. arranged in order) in a siding or railway yard.” [6]

Detail from 1881 Census of England and Wales, Croydon, Surrey (Click on image to enlarge)

By this time they had four children. In addition to Anne and Samuel C there were Alice (b. abt 1875 in Melbourne or Croydon) and William (born 1880 in Croydon). They would go on to have a total of 10 children. I’ve been able to locate records for 9 of them.

Diagram of Samuel and Lydia Casban’s children (Click on image to enlarge)

In 1891, Samuel’s occupation had changed again, now to a “Coal Porter,” i.e., one who carries heavy sacks of coal. [7],[8] In 1901 he was a “Contractor’s Carman at Asphalte [sic] Works.” [9] A carman was someone who “drove a vehicle used to transport goods” (in 1901 this would have meant a horse-drawn vehicle). [10] By 1911, he was listed as a “Crossing Sweeper.” [11] In earlier times this referred to a person who swept the street ahead of pedestrians as they crossed. “A job as a crossing sweeper was one step above being considered a beggar and the last chance for an individual to earn an ‘honest crust.’” [12] I haven’t been able to determine if this had a different meaning in 1911. At any rate, it is apparent that he was doing less physically intensive labor by 1911.

Samuel’s move from Meldreth to Croydon, and his changing occupations reflect the changing conditions in England in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th century. Industrialization and advances in transportation resulted in urban growth and new job opportunities. Nevertheless, Samuel never advanced beyond working class status, and it is unknown whether his financial stability or quality of life were improved as a result of these changes.

One other major event in the early twentieth century must have had a profound impact on Samuel and Lydia. They lost two of their sons in World War I. Earnest Charles Casbon was killed in the battlefields of France in 1914. [13] He had been married to Nellie Placket the year before and had a daughter Nellie born in 1914 (and died in 1915). [14],[15],[16] Leonard Casban died in a Turkish prisoner of war camp in 1917. [17]

Samuel and Lydia remained in Croydon the rest of their lives, as did many of their surviving children. Samuel died in 1922, and Lydia followed him in 1924. [18],[19]

Samuel is the patriarch of many of today’s Casbans in the United Kingdom (there are others from an apparently unrelated branch). Their numbers are relatively small, in part because they only had three surviving sons, and in part because those sons either remained childless or had a propensity for having daughters.

If any descendants of Samuel and Lydia are reading this, I hope you will contact me or leave a comment. There are many blanks to be filled in my information!

[1] Church of England. Parish Church of Meldreth, “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” FHL Microfilm #1040542
[2] “England Marriages, 1538–1973,” FamilySearch [accessed 2 August 2016]
[3] “1861 Census of Engand, Wales & Scotland,” find my past [accessed 19 November 2016]
[4] “1881 Census of England and Wales,” FamilySearch [accessed 2 August 2016]
[5] “1881 Census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch [accessed 2 August 2016]
[6] “Are You Looking For An Ancestor?”. 2016. The Library – Modern Records Section [accessed 20 November 2016].
[7] “1891 Census of England and Wales,” FamilySearch [accessed 2 August 2016]
[8] “Family Tree Researcher: Dictionary Of Old Occupations – C”. 2016. Family Researcher [accessed 21 November 2016]
[9] “1901 Census of England and Wales,” FamilySearch [accessed 2 August 2016]
[10] “List Of Old English Occupations And Descriptions”. 2016. Worldthroughthelens.Com [accessed 21 November 2016]
[11] “1911 Census of England and Wales,” find my past [accessed 19 November 2016]
[12] “Crossing Sweepers – Geri Walton,” 2014. Geri Walton [accessed 21 November 2016]
[13] “Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919”, find my past [accessed 11 November 2016]
[14] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005”, FamilySearch [accessed 12 November 2015]
[15] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008”, FamilySearch [accessed 13 November 2015]
[16] “England and Wales, Death Index 1800-2007”, FamilySearch [accessed 13 November 2015]
[17] “Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919”, find my past [accessed 11 November 2016]
[18] “England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007”, FamilySearch [accessed 15 September 2015]
[19] “England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007”, FamilySearch [accessed 17 November 2016]


As near as I can tell, Arthur Casben is the forefather of all the Australia Casbens.

Arthur was born in Lambeth, London, May 1886, [1] He was one of eight children born to Reuben and Elizabeth (Neyland) Casbon. Arthur was a “Meldreth Casbon,” descended from John Casbel of Meldreth. His 2nd great-grandfather Thomas Casbon was my 5th great grandfather.

Arthur C ancestors chart
(Click on image to enlarge)

Arthur’s father Reuben adopted the C-A-S-B-E-N spelling of the name. This spelling appears on birth registries for his children as well as various other documents.

By the age of 15, Arthur had a job on the railroads as a servant. [2] By the age of 22 he was a conductor. [3]

He married Leonora Gertrude Ackerman 1910 in Croydon, Surrey, England. [4] She was the daughter of Albert T and Alice (Wilks) Ackerman. [5]

I don’t know exactly when Arthur left England for Australia, but I’ve been able to put together the following bits of information.

Arthur’s wife Leonora and two sons Wilfred and Noel departed from London aboard the ship Themistocles in April 1914. [6] The ship was bound for Brisbane, Australia, and the manifest indicates that they intended to become permanent citizens of Australia.

Casben ship manifest leaving UK 1914
(Click on image to enlarge)

Leonora’s sister Helena (Ackerman) Skinner (b. 1870) was on the same ship with her six children. [7] Her husband, Alfred James Skinner, was not on the manifest, but at some point he also went to Australia.

They were preceded to Australia by Leonora’s parents, who departed London bound for Brisbane in November 1913. They also intended to make Australia their home. [8]

Leonora’s brother, Leopold Patrick Albert Ackerman (b. 1879) probably was the first to arrive in Australia. He married Mary McAdam in New South Wales in 1912. [9] I don’t know when he arrived in Australia.

The first Australian record I have for Arthur is his embarkation in December 1915 to serve with the Australian Forces in World War I. He was already a resident of Coogee, New South Wales. [10]

Arthur WWI embarkation roll 20 Dec 1915
(Click on image to enlarge)

It’s apparent that the Arthur and Leonora’s decision to move to Australia involved Leonora’s extended family. I don’t have enough information to know what led to the decision.

My father corresponded with Arthur’s son Noel (1912-2001) in the 1990s. Noel sent a brief summary of the family’s early years in Australia, part of which is transcribed here:

My father was the only one of four brothers … who migrated to this country. He & of course my Mom arrived during 1914 when I was about 2 y.o. and with brother Wilfred 2 yrs my senior and no longer with us. My first memory of life is just before Feb. 1915 when my sister was born when we live at SCOGEE a beachside suburb of Sydney. I do not remember my Dad going to war in Palestine nor coming home in 1917. Nor do I remember going with the family to a country town in N.S. Wales where my Dad did a mail run. I do remember very vividly a bonfire being lit in the main street of Coolamon on armistise day 1918 Dad was no business man so the mail run went and we returned to Sydney. [11]

Besides Wilfred and Noel, Arthur and Leonora Casben had at least five more children after arriving in Australia. Some of their descendants have reached positions of prominence.

One added note: Arthur’s sister, Margaret Casben, emigrated to Australia in 1915. [12] She married Robert C. Wright in 1920. [13]

This blog occasionally gets visits from someone in Australia and New Zealand. If any Casben descendants are reading this, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment.

[1] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008.” FamilySearch [accessed 11 November 2015]
[2] “1901 Census of England, Wales & Scotland.” find my past [accessed 3 November 2016]
[3] “Britain, Trade Union membership registers”, find my past [accessed 3 November 2016]
[4] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005.” FamilySearch [accessed 6 October 2016]
[5] “England and Wales Census, 1891.” FamilySearch : 15 October 2015 [accessed 6 October 2016]
[6] “Passenger Lists leaving UK 1890-1960.” find my past [accessed 23 September 2016]
[7] “Passenger Lists leaving UK 1890-1960.” find my past [accessed 3 November 2016]
[8] “Passenger Lists leaving UK 1890-1960.” find my past [accessed 6 October 2016]
[9] “New South Wales Marriages 1788-1945.” find my past [accessed 3 November 2016]
[10] “First World War Embarkation Rolls”, Australian War Memorial[accessed 3 November 2016]
[11] Casben, N., Letter to L. Casbon, 25 March 1996. [The original printed letter is in the Jon Casbon’s possession]
[12] “Passenger Lists leaving UK 1890-1960.” find my past[accessed 6 October 2016]
[13] “New South Wales Marriages 1788-1945”, find my past[accessed 6 October 2016]

What’s in a Name?

Our name wasn’t always Casbon.

What I should really say, is that our name wasn’t always spelled ‘C-a-s-b-o-n.’

As you go back into our early family records, the ways our name is spelled varies dramatically.

The earliest I’ve traced my ancestors is the marriage of William Casbolde to Margrett Saybrocke in 1577.[1] Here is a sampling of spellings from parish and census records of my relatives, with dates they were recorded[2],[3],[4].

Spelling variants(Click on image to enlarge)

There are many records with spellings similar to those above in other parts of England, but the records are concentrated most heavily in the general vicinity of Cambridge. If you’re interested, check out this map I created showing the distribution of births and christenings with similar surnames in England between 1560 and 1825.  The map allows you to select individual surnames, locations and ranges of dates to see how these factors affect the distribution.

Judeth dtr of John Casbold and Joan 1613Learning to read old records can be a challenge. This says, “Judeth Daughter of John Casbold & Joan february vii.” [Church of England. “Parish registers for Melbourne, 1558-1877.”](Click on image to enlarge)

The spelling Casbon appears as early as 1617 in Isleham, Cambridgeshire[5], but thereafter it only appears infrequently in diverse locations. It makes its first appearance in my family line is 1769 when Thomas Casbon married Jane Wilson in Melbourn.[6] The Casbon spelling did not become more widespread until the early to mid-1800s.

Samuel Clark Casbon, born in Meldreth 1851 to William and Ann (Clark) Casbon[7], was recorded in the 1881 England and Wales Census as Samuel Casban[8]. His descendants have continued to use the Casban spelling. Reuben (b. 1847[9]), another son of William and Ann Casbon adopted the spelling Casben for himself and his descendants. Reuben’s son Arthur Casben (b. 1886[10]) emigrated to Australia in the early 20th century. Now almost all of the living Casbens are in Australia.[11]

The main reason spellings of these names changed is that very few people could read or write. Many of our ancestors did not know how to spell their names. This can be seen on marriage records where bride and groom often signed with their “mark,” An x or +.

1835 James Casbon Elizabeth Waller M Meld
When James Casbon married Elizabeth Waller in 1835, he signed his name with his “mark,” as did one of the witnesses. Apparently Elizabeth was able to sign her own name. [Church of England. “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877.”](Click on image to enlarge)

This means that the spelling was determined by whichever church or government official was responsible for writing the name in an official record. They simply had to make their best guess.  I’ve noticed in these old records that when the person keeping the records changes, so does the spelling.

Imagine going to the DMV for a driver’s license and not knowing how to spell your name…what do you think would end up on the license?!

Literacy rates gradually increased throughout the 1800s, although elementary education did not become compulsory in England until 1880.[12] Once our ancestors learned to write, they were able to take control of how the name and how it was spelled.

This means that today’s spelling of names is somewhat arbitrary. As seen with Casban and Casben above, people who are related may not share the same surname. Conversely, not everyone with a given surname is related. It’s tempting to believe that all the Casbons are somehow related, but there is little reason and no evidence to support it.

It doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, though!

[1] “England Marriages, 1538–1973.” FamilySearch [accessed 31 October 2015]
[2] Church of England. “Parish registers for Melbourne, 1558-1877.” Microfilm of original records in the Cambridge County Record Office, Cambridge. FHL Microfilm #1040540. Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, [1980]
[3] Church of England. “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877.” Microfilm of original records in the Cambridge County Record Office, Cambridge. FHL Microfilm #1040542. Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, [1980]
[4] “1871 census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch [accessed 24 July 2015]
[5] “Cambridgeshire Burials.” FindMyPast [accessed 8 September 2016]
[6] “England Marriages, 1538–1973 .” FamilySearch [accessed 30 September 2015]
[7] Church of England. “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877.”
[8] “1881 census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysea [accessed 6 October 2015]
[9] Church of England. “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877.”
[10] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008.” FamilySearch [accessed 11 November 2015]
[11] “Casben Surname Meaning and Statistics.” Forebears [accessed 8 September 2016]
[12] “The 1870 Education Act.” UK Parliament [accessed 8 September 2016]