Inventors

I recently discovered an interesting database called Espacenet. It is an online service for searching patents and patent applications. According to their website, “Espacenet offers free access to information about inventions and technical developments from 1782 to today.” I typed in “Casbon” to see what would happen. Lo and behold—several patents showed up! So, today’s post will recognize two inventors in the family.

The earliest patent dates from 1908 and is titled “Improvements in Safety Labels or Tags or Tag Attachments for Game, Parcels, or Horticultural or the like uses.” The applicant was “Charles Casbon of 5 Rathcole Gardens Hornsey in the County of Middlesex Gentleman.”[1]

In his application, Mr. Casbon explains that, previous to his design, “much labour and material has been expended in order to produce a safety tag which could not be torn from the article to which it was fastened and at the same time would bear the impress or imprint of the name or destination or description of the article.”[2] His improved tag is cut or stamped from a single piece sheet metal, consisting of a tag, a strap, and slots for securing the strap.

Charles Casbon’s design for a safety tag; Espacenet.com

I have written about Charles Casbon before. He was the son of Thomas Casbon (1840–1889) and Emily Cantrill (1846–1891) and was born at Peterborough, Northamptonshire
18 June 1866.[3] Thomas and Emily were legally separated in 1868 and Charles was raised by his mother. He became a professional photographer. Charles died in France, 6 August 1930.[4]

I don’t know what led Charles to design a new and improved method of producing safety tags. Perhaps it somehow related to his photography work. I also don’t know whether he profited from his invention in any way

The second inventor was William Casbon. His name appears on several patents dealing with gas an electric lights and heaters. The earliest of these was titled “Improvements in Incandescent Gas Burners” and was applied for in December 1915.[5] This was followed by applications for “An Appliance for Attaching Shades to the Holders of Electric Light Fittings,”[6] “Improvements in Inverted Incandescent Gas Burners,”[7] “Improvements in Atmospheric Gas Burners for Heating Purposes,”[8] and “Improvements in Incandescent Gas Burners,”[9] (apparently an improvement on the earlier patent of the same title). I also found a U.S. patent granted to Yagerphone Ltd. in 1929, listing William as the inventor of a tone arm for gramophones.[10]

William Casbon’s and Arthur James Dunkinson’s design for improvements in inverted incandescent gas burners; Espacenet.com
William Casbon’s design for a gramophone tone arm; Espacenet.com

Most of these patents gave the names of William Casbon and Arthur James Dunkinson as co-inventors. William described himself as a “gentleman.” Dunkinson’s occupation is written in one application as “General Foremen, Architects Department” for His Majesty’s Office of Works.[11]

Who was William Casbon? Although there were two adult men of that name living at the time of the patent applications, only one is the likely candidate for our inventor. He had a most interesting life. He was born at Meldreth in 1860, the son of William Casbon and Sarah West.[12] Based on census listings, his occupations included “railway signalman” (1881),[13] “baker” (1891),[14] “golf club manager” (1901),[15] and finally, in 1911, “catering.”[16] The latter occupation is understated, as William was serving as Superintendent of the Refreshments Department of the House of Lords. I believe William was also the man who sought a position as a footman in 1884.

I’m confident about William’s identity because of his relationship to his co-inventor, Arthur James Dunkinson. It turns out that Mr. Dunkinson was married to William’s niece, Emily Casbon, daughter of William’s brother, Walter. Emily was listed as a member of William’s household in the 1901 census, so she must have had a close relationship with her uncle.

I don’t know what William did for a living after retiring from the House of Lords position; I have found him listed is residential directories for both Hitchin, Hertfordshire—the location given in the patent applications—and in London. Perhaps he had residences in both locations. Nor do I know how he came to be interested in gas fixtures, electric lights and gramophones. He must have been a man of many interests and an active mind. He died in London 8 September 1939.[17]

It’s interesting that both Charles and William described themselves as gentlemen. In earlier times, the term gentleman referred to a particular social class, associated with the aristocracy, the right to bear arms, and perhaps with independent means. It was understood that manual laborers and tradesmen could not describe themselves as gentlemen. This meaning of the word seems to have become obsolete by the end of the 19th century, and anyone with sufficient means and good manners might be considered a gentleman.[18] Still, it seems odd that Charles and William chose to use the term rather than their professions as photographer and caterer. Perhaps they felt that it would give their patent applications greater standing.


[1] C. Casbon, patent certificate no. GB190803244A (27 Aug 1908); text and images, European Patent Office, database (http://ep.espacenet.com: accessed 8 Nov 2020).
[2] C. Casbon, patent certificate no. GB190803244A.
[3] Emily Casbon, Petition for judicial separation, 9 May 1868; image included in “England & Wales, Civil Divorce Records, 1858-1918,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/2465/ : accessed 1 Dec 20) >1868 >00781-00790 >00787: Casbon >images 7-8 of 9; citingThe National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, later Supreme Court of Judicature: Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Files; Class: J 77; Piece: 84; Item: 787.
[4] Commune de Levallois-Perret, Saint-Denis, Seine, France, Extract du Registre des Acts de Décés pour l’année 1930 (death on 6-8-30 at Levallois-Perret of Chares Wheeley Cas[b]on); imaged at “UK, Foreign and Overseas Registers of British Subjects, 1628-1969,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1993/ : accessed 1 Dec 20) >RG 32: Miscellaneous Foreign Returns, 1831-1969 >Piece 16: Miscellaneous Foreign Returns, 1927-1931 >image 209 of 716; citing The National Archives, RG 32/16.
[5] W. Casbon, A.J. Dunkinson, patent certificate no. GB191517089A (30 Nov 1916); text and images, European Patent Office, database (http://ep.espacenet.com: accessed 8 Nov 2020).
[6] J. Doble and W. Casbon, patent certificate no. GB109706A (27 Sep 1917); European Patent Office, database (http://ep.espacenet.com: accessed 8 Nov 2020).
[7] W. Casbon and A.J. Dunkinson, patent certificate no. GB107359A (28 Jun 1917); European Patent Office, database (http://ep.espacenet.com: accessed 8 Nov 2020).
[8] W. Casbon and A.J. Dunkinson, patent certificate no. GB126818A (22 May 1919); European Patent Office, database (http://ep.espacenet.com: accessed 8 Nov 2020).
[9] W. Casbon and A.J. Dunkinson, patent certificate no. GB151393A (30 Sep 1920); European Patent Office, database (http://ep.espacenet.com: accessed 8 Nov 2020).
[10] W. Casbon, assignor to Yagerphone Ltd., patent certificate no. 1,713,419 (U.S.A., 1929); European Patent Office, database (http://ep.espacenet.com: accessed 8 Nov 2020).
[11] W. Casbon, A.J. Dunkinson, patent certificate no. GB191517089A.
[12] Transcript of birth registration, William Casbon, mother’s maiden name West, GRO reference 1860 S[eptember] Quarter, Royston, vol. 3A/205; found at “Search the GRO Online Index,” database, HM Passport Office (https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp : accessed 1 Dec 20).
[13] 1881 England census, Derbyshire, Breadsall, p. 2, schedule 9, William Caskan in household of Joyce Bailey; imaged as “1881 England Census,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7572/ : accessed 1 Dec 20) > Derbyshire >Breadsall >ALL >District 11 >image 3 of 24; citing The National Archives, RG 11/3393/67.
[14] 1891 England census, London, St. George Hanover Square, Mayfair, ED 14, p. 20, schedule 56, William Caston in household of William Bryceson; imaged as “1891 England Census,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/6598/ : accessed 1 Dec 20) > London >St George Hanover Square >Mayfair >District 14 >image 13 of 42; citing The National Archives, RG 12/69.
[15] 1901 England census, Hertfordshire, Chorleywood, ED 11, p. 19, schedule 136; imaged as “1901 England Census,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7814 : accessed 1 Dec 20) >Hertfordshire >Chorleywood >ALL >District 11 >image 20 of 24; citing The National Archives, RG 13/1322.
[16] 1911 England census, Westminster, St. Margaret & St. John, ED 24, schedule 10; imaged as “1911 England Census,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2352 : accessed 1 Dec 20) > London >St Margaret and St John >St Margaret and St John >24 >image 76 of 227; citing The National Archives, RG 14/489.
[17] “England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995,” database with images, Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1904 : accessed 1 Dec 20) > 1944 >Cable-Dziegielewski >image 36 of 395; Wills and Administrations, 1944, p. 70, entry for William Casbon.
[18] Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, “Gassendi, Pierre” to “Geocentric,” Vol. 11, Slice 5, “Gentleman”; downloaded as EPUB, Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/37282 : accessed 1 Dec 20).

Occupations

The 19th century was a time of tremendous social and economic change in England. The industrial revolution and growth of the railroads created economic growth, new job opportunities, and shifted segments of the population from their traditional rural homelands to the cities.

How did this affect our English Casbon ancestors? We can gain some insight through the review of census data. Beginning in 1841, roughly the beginning of the Victoria era, census reports listed the place of residence and occupations of household members. When combined with genealogical data, these reports can provide insight into how the changes of the 19th century affected multiple generations of family members.   

Hence, today’s post is a bit of a “science project.” I have compiled the occupations and locations of Casbon family members from 1841 through 1891. These are separated into family groups which are further subdivided by generation.

In the early 1800s, there were two main family groups with the Casbon surname or its antecedents (such as Casbel, Casburn, etc.). One of these families arose in Littleport, Cambridgeshire, but over the course of a generation became based in Peterborough, Northamptonshire (now Cambridgeshire). I refer to these as the Peterborough Casbons. Their common ancestor was Thomas Casbon, born about 1776 in Littleport and died near St. Ives, Huntingdonshire in 1855.

The second group arose in the rural area south of Cambridge and became associated with the village of Meldreth. This family group was larger than the Peterborough Casbons and all were descended from Thomas Casbon, who was born at Meldreth in 1743 and died there in 1799. I have divided the Meldreth group into three subgroups, corresponding to the offspring of three of James’s sons. The first-generation members of each of these subgroups were first cousins to those in the other two groups.

A third family group named Casbon sprung up in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire in the mid-1800s. They were descended from John Casburn, who was born about 1818 and died in 1848 (but does not appear in the 1841 census). This family group lived predominantly in Chatteris throughout the 19th century and eventually died out in the mid 20th century due to the lack of male heirs. Because John’s children were born in the 1840s, their occupations were first listed in the 1871 census.

I have not been able to connect any of these three major family groups together through genealogy records.

For this project, I created a spreadsheet for each group or subgroup showing those family members whose occupations were recorded in the 1841–1891 censuses. The family members are separated by generation; their occupations and places of residence are listed by census year. Thus, it is possible to see how a given individual’s place of residence and occupation changed over subsequent census years. A brief analysis and commentary follow each spreadsheet.

Peterborough Group

(Click on image to enlarge) Extracted census data for four generations of Peterborough Casbons; direct descendants are listed underneath their parents in the next generation; a wife, Jane (Cooper), is listed underneath her husband; occupations are listed as found in the census; some additional information is listed to explain why census data is not given

What is most apparent in this group is the strong family tradition of gardening and related occupations across all four generations. The only exceptions to this tradition in the males are John Casbon (1863), who was listed as a grocer in 1891, and Charles Casbon (1866—see below).

The term “gardener” is a bit ambiguous in the census listings. In one sense, a gardener might be little more than a servant or labourer [British spelling intentional], employed by a landowner to tend his grounds. However, the term was also applied to self-employed men who ran commercial nurseries and sold bedding plants, trees, and shrubs to others. There is abundant evidence that Thomas (1807) and his descendants were the latter kind of gardener, but it is unknown how the term applied to Thomas (1776).

Of the women, two Sarahs (1834 and 1865), worked as domestic servants before getting married. Elizabeth (1861) worked as a dressmaker in 1881, but we know from other sources that she later served as a domestic servant.

Emily (Cantrill—1846) and her son Charles Casbon (1866) deserve special mention. Emily was either divorced or separated from her husband, Thomas, and moved to her parents’ home in London, along with their two children. I haven’t been able to find a description of her occupation, “hair draper,” but I suspect it is another term for hair stylist. Her move to London probably opened the door for her son, Charles, to have such a unique occupation—“Photographic Artist”—compared to the other men in this group.

Meldreth Group 1

(Click on image to enlarge) Extracted census data for three generations of Meldreth Group 1

Jane (1803) and William (1805) were both children of John and Martha (Wagstaff) Casbon. Jane was “crippled from birth” (1871 census) and listed as a “straw plaiter” in the 1851 census. William was an agricultural labourer for his entire life. His three sons left Meldreth, with two settling in parts of London and one settling a little further south in Croydon. John (1843) had a criminal record and worked as a labourer of one sort or another his entire life. I’m assuming that his occupation of gardener in 1881 refers to the working-class meaning of the term.

William’s sons Reuben (1847) and Samuel (1851) both spent some time working for railways. Their occupations reflect the diversity of jobs in urban locations compared what would have been available Meldreth. Although still members of the working class, Reuben and Samuel were probably able to maintain a higher standard of living than their father. Note Samuel’s first occupation as a coprolite digger. This reflects a short-term economic “boom” when coprolite was mined for fertilizer in the area surrounding Meldreth.

William’s female descendants all entered into various forms of domestic service, probably the most common employment for girls from working class families.

Meldreth Group 2

(Click on image to enlarge) Extracted census data for three generations of Meldreth Group 2

James (1806) was the son of James and Mary (Howse or Howes) Casbon. In some records he is referred to as James Howse or James Itchcock Casbon. He was born and raised in Meldreth. Unlike the other Meldreth families, he was a landowner. This put him in a higher social class than the other Meldreth Casbons and allowed him to serve on juries, and possibly to vote.

For reasons unknown to me (unless it was tied to his bankruptcy), James moved from Meldreth to Barley, Hertfordshire, a distance of about five miles, sometime between 1851 and 1854. His oldest son, Alfred Hitch (1828), became a tailor, as did Alfred’s two sons. It’s interesting that they were located in different cities for every census. James’s son John (1835) followed him in the farming and carrier tradition, while his son George (1836) became established in Barley as a wheelwright.

Two of his female descendants, Margaret (1873) and Julia (1866), became domestic servants. Two other female descendants, daughter Fanny (1846) and granddaughter Lavinia (1870) broke the domestic service tradition, with Fanny becoming the “superintendent” (perhaps housemistress) of a large apartment complex and Lavinia becoming a bookseller. Both later moved to Folkestone, where Fanny became the owner of a boarding house/vacation hotel [link]). Charlotte (Haines), the wife of Alfred H. (1828), must have supplemented the family income with her occupation as a straw bonnet cleaner.

Meldreth Group 3

(Click on image to enlarge) Extracted census data for three generations of Meldreth Group 3

This is my own ancestral group, consisting of three brothers, Thomas (1803), William (1806), and James (1813). A fourth brother, Joseph (born about 1811), died without male heirs. Thomas emigrated to the United States in 1846, so is only captured in the 1841 census as an agricultural labourer.

His brother William (1806) and William’s son William (1835) worked in Meldreth as agricultural labourers their entire lives, except that William junior seems to have “moved up” as a market gardener in 1891. William’s (1806) two grandsons left Meldreth. Walter (1856) eventually became a railway wagon examiner and William (1860) lived in various places with diverse jobs. Although listed as a baker in 1891, he later became the Superintendent of Catering for the House of Lords. William’s (1806) granddaughter, Priscilla (1862), was a domestic servant in 1881 and was living in Meldreth with no occupation listed in 1891.

James (1813) and his descendants in England were never able to rise above the class of (mostly agricultural) labourers, although George (1846), and possibly William (1836), served time as soldiers. Like his brother Thomas, James (1813) emigrated to the United States in 1870, leaving his adult children behind.

Chatteris Group

(Click on image to enlarge) Extracted census data for two generations of Chatteris Casbons

The two brothers in this group, Lester (1841) and John (1846), were agricultural labourers. Unusually, John’s daughter Rose (1868) was also listed as an agricultural labourer. The other two daughters, Lizzie (1872) and Harriet (1874) followed the traditional route for working-class women as domestic servants. Only Charles (1873) seems to have advanced a little in social standing as a saddler. The most unique occupation in this group was Sarah “Kate” (1844) who was listed as a “gay girl,” i.e., a prostitute.

General Observations

I have consolidated the occupational data for all of these family groups into a single chart.

(Click on image to enlarge) Consolidated occupational data from the 1841–1891 censuses for the Casbon family groups

During the study period four generations of the Peterborough group, three generations of the Meldreth subgroups, and two generations of the Chatteris group—a total of 55 individuals—had occupations recorded on the 1841–1891 censuses.

In general, there was very little upward social mobility. Descendants of working-class families tended to continue in working-class occupations, although in different categories (agriculture/industry/transportation for men and domestic service for women) and different locations. The Peterborough group and Meldreth Group 2 started out in a higher social class as gardeners and farmers (i.e., land owners), but their descendants tended to stay in about the same social class as tradesmen (tailor, wheelwright, grocer) of different kinds.

This lack of upward mobility is probably a reflection of the rigid class structure that persisted in England throughout the 19th and into the early 20th century. I’m a little surprised that more of the working-class descendants weren’t able to move up to what I would call lower-middle class occupations.

That said, the later generations were probably better off economically and materially than their predecessors. Overall, the economy improved throughout the century. Food was probably more plentiful, and furnishings less primitive compared to the lives of agricultural labourers in the early 19th century.

The growth of transportation and urbanization created new job opportunities and drove later generations into the cities. By 1891 there is a much greater diversity in occupations, especially for the men. This trend was most pronounced for the Meldreth group, many of whom ended up in or near London. As they migrated to the cities, their numbers dwindled in the home village. By 1891, only two households—William (1835) and John (1849)—were recorded in Meldreth or it’s sister village or Melbourn.

For working-class women, domestic service was one of the few sources of employment. Girls usually began working “in service” in their teens and continued until they were married. A few never married and continued in service their entire working lives. Even the daughters of a farmer/landowner and a tradesman, Margaret (1873) and Julia (1866), respectively, found employment in domestic service. There were three notable exceptions: Fanny (1846), Lavinia (1870), and Sarah “Kate” (1844). The first two of these became financially independent, while Kate’s fate is unknown.

It would be interesting to compare the occupations of the 19th century with those of the 20th. Many of the social barriers were greatly reduced or broken down altogether. The two world wars created tremendous social and economic disruptions. I’m certain we would see a great deal more diversity and upward mobility in occupations for men and women. Unfortunately, census data is only available for 1901 through 1921 in England, along with a census-like instrument known as the 1939 register. Such a study will have to wait, for now.

The Photographer

This is my ninth post in the Guild of One-name Studies (GOONS) blog challenge 2020.

A post by fellow GOONS member Vivienne Dunstan was the inspiration for today’s post. She reported on a photograph she found on eBay that showed someone with her surname of interest. I was curious whether I could do the same so I logged into eBay and typed in “Casbon.” The search mainly turned up a few books (not mine!) and marketing items such as t-shirts with “Casbon” printed on them. However, one item of particular interest turned up—a photograph taken by Charles Casbon of Hornsey, London, England. The owner of the photograph was kind enough to let me use the images.

Carte de visité (front and back), portrait of two young girls, taken by “Chas. Casbon,” undated
(courtesy of Helen Flavin, Black Cat Books & Ephemera, Wiltshire, United Kingdom)

The little girls are cute, but I was interested in the photographer, not his subjects. We see that Chas. Casbon was a professional photographer with a studio located at 6 Alexandra Road, Hornsey. The picture on the back of the card depicts a camera on a stand in front of a screen. The information given about the photograph on the eBay site says that the original size is 4 by 2.5 inches.

A website dedicated to London photographers says that Charles Casbon had his studio on Alexandra Road from 1888 to 1892,[1] while another source says he was located there until 1896.[2] Thus we can date the photograph to this range of dates.

This kind of photograph is known as a carte de visité. They consisted of small photographs mounted on card stock measuring about 4 by 2.5 inches, and usually containing printed information about the photographers on the back. Cartes de visité were immensely popular in the late 1800s and early 20th century. People collected and kept them in albums.[3]

Charles Wheeley Casbon received brief mention in an earlier blog post about his father, Thomas, who was suspected of jumping into the Thames in an unsuccessful suicide attempt. (See also “Lost Man, Found”) Charles was descended from the “Peterborough Casbons,” a family that settled in the vicinity of Peterborough, Northamptonshire, in the mid 1800s. I have never been able to connect this family to my own. The earlier generations, including Charles’s father, were all gardeners (see “How doth your garden grow?“). Charles was probably the namesake for the “Charley Casbon” flower I discovered in an 1871 Washington, D.C., gardening catalog a few years ago.

Advertisement for “Charley Casbon”; John Saul, Descriptive catalogue of new, rare and beautiful plants, dahlias, chrysanthemums, geraniums, fuchsias, carnations, verbenas, phloxes, &c. for spring, 1871 (Philadelphia: Horticultural Book & Job Print, 1871), p. 30; Internet Archive

Charles was born in Peterborough on 18 June 1866.[4] His given name on the Peterborough St. Mary’s parish baptismal register was Charles Thomas Casbon.[5]

Detail from Peterborough St. Mary’s parish register, 1866; note the father’s occupation: “Nurseryman”

His mother, Emily (Cantrill) filed for divorce when Charles was 2 years old, and it appears that he lived with her after the divorce. Her dislike of her former husband must have been intense, because at some point Charles’s middle name was changed from Thomas to Wheeley, the middle name of Emily’s father, Samuel W. Cantrill.

Charles, his mother, and his sister were enumerated at Samuel’s residence for the 1871 and 1881 censuses. In the 1891 census, we find Charles as the head of household, residing at
6 Alexandra Rd. in Hornsey, a district in North London. This is the same address as that given for his studio. His occupation is recorded as “photographic artist.” His mother and sister are also in the household, along with a visitor, a boarder, and one servant.[6]

Detail from 1891 England census for Hornsey, Middlesex; Ancestry (Click on image to enlarge)

In the 1901 census, he is listed as a visitor in a different Hornsey household; his occupation is given as “photographer’s draughtsman.” This seems like a step down from having his own studio.

I haven’t found Charles in the 1911 census, but he does appear in 1910 and 1912 London city directories, still living in Hornsey, but now living at Rathcoole Gardens (road). It is unknown whether he was still in the photography business at the time. The only other record I have is a copy of a French death certificate from Levallois-Perret, a suburb of Paris, showing that Charles had been residing in Paris. He died at the age of 63 on 6 August 1930.[7] The death certificate includes the word “artiste,” so this probably explains what he was doing in France.

There is no record of a marriage or of children being fathered by Charles; therefore no descendants to preserve his memory.

[1] PhotoLondon website (https://www.photolondon.org.uk/).
[2] Photographers of Great Britain & Ireland website (http://www.victorianphotographers.co.uk/).
[3] Richard Davies, “The First Great Photography Craze: Cartes de Visites,” 14 Mar 2019, PetaPixel (https://petapixel.com/2019/03/14/the-first-great-photography-craze-cartes-de-visites/ : accessed 4 Feb 2020).
[4] “Casbon vs. Casbon,” Court Minutes, Her Majesty’s Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, no. 787 JS; image copy, “England & Wales., Civil Divorce Records, 1858-1915”, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/2465/ : accessed 19 Feb 2017); citing The National Archives; Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, later Supreme Court of Judicature: Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Files; Class: J 77; Piece: 84; Item: 787.
[5] Peterborough (Northamptonshire) parish register, baptisms 1866, no. 494; image copy, “Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912”, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/9200/).
[6] 1891 England census, Hornsey, Edmonton, Middlesex; image copy, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/6598/); citing The National Archives, RG 12, piece 1059, folio 130, p. 51.
[7] “UK, Foreign and Overseas Registers of British Subjects, 1628-1969,” image copy, Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1993 : accessed 18 September 2018) ; citing The National Archives, RG 32/16.

An Incident in Greenwich

This piece appeared in The (London) Standard of April 12, 1871.[1]

GREENWICH.

Charges of Attempted Suicide.Thomas Casbon, a young man, describing himself as a nurseryman at Peterborough, was charged with attempting to commit suicide by throwing himself into the River Thames opposite Greenwich Hospital.
From the evidence of Police-serjeant 16 R, it appeared that on Saturday afternoon, between four and five o’clock, he found the prisoner near the Ship Tavern, Greenwich, water running from the leggings of his trousers, he having just been rescued from the river by a waterman, after jumping into it at high water. The prisoner was stupefied and benumbed by cold, and was conveyed to the Greenwich Union, where he was stripped and rubbed with warm cloth, and had remained there until that morning, when he was taken into custody and charged. On recovering consciousness the prisoner said he had looked at the river before plunging in, thinking he could swim across it.
The Prisoner, who appeared in a very weak condition, said, in reply to the charge, that he had no intention whatever of taking his own life. He had come by an excursion train from Peterborough to visit the Crystal Palace on Good Friday, and had there lost a friend who was with him. Owing to broken rest in attending to business previously and excitement occasioned by taking too much drink, he supposed he must have awoke on Saturday morning, wherever he slept, and wandered to Greenwich, not knowing where he was or what he was doing.
Mr. Maude inquired of the prisoner whether he had on any previous occasion become so suddenly bereft of reason, and also whether he had sufficient means to get back to Peterborough.
The Prisoner replied that his mind had never before been so affected. He had not sufficient money to pay his fare to Peterborough, but he had property of value about him sufficient to obtain it, and he was most anxious to get home.
Mr. Maude said he would take the prisoner’s assurance that he had no intention to drown himself, and ordered his discharge, but he advised him in future to abstain from too much intoxicating liquor.

This story obviously describes a disturbing incident in the life of Thomas Casbon. Who was Thomas? The story describes him as a young man and a nurseryman from Peterborough. There were two men named Thomas Casbon who might have fit this description in 1871; one was born in 1840 and the other in 1854. Fortunately, additional records pertaining to this incident exist – the admission and discharge register from the Greenwich Union, where Thomas was taken after being pulled out of the Thames.[2], [3]

Detail from Greenwich Union admission & discharge register, April 1871. (Click on image to enlarge)

  These records tell the same story as the news article, in abbreviated format. We can see that he was admitted on Saturday, April 8th at 4:50 p.m. His age is recorded as 32. He was admitted from G[reenwich] parish. The order to admit him was given by someone named Master. The Cause of Admission is Attempt to Drown Supposed Insane. His religious persuasion is Church [of England]. The remarks state that he was Brought by Police 16R from Dr. Forsyth. The discharge record only tells us that he was discharged on Tuesday, April 11th, one day before the news article appeared.

From the given age of 32 we can tell that this was the Thomas Casbon born in 1840.[4] It’s one year off from the birth year in my records, but there is no one else who could match this description. Thomas was the third child and second son of Thomas Casbon (~1807–1863), and the third generation of gardeners/nurserymen who eventually settled in Peterborough.

Thomas was married to Emily Cantrill, of London, in 1865.[5] They had two children: Charles T, born in 1866, and Edith Emily, born in 1868.[6], [7] Emily filed for divorce. alleging cruelty, in 1868.[8] Thomas was ordered to pay alimony and the judge ordered that the case be tried before a jury. I don’t know if the trial ever took place of if the divorce was finalized, but it is clear that the marriage was over. In the 1871 census, Emily and the two children were living with her parents in London.[9] Could the “broken rest in attending to business,” referred to in the newspaper article, have had something to do with his divorce? Might his “excitement occasioned by taking too much drink” have been the aftermath of an unsuccessful encounter with his estranged wife and children? Obviously, this is speculation on my part, but I think it could explain the events that followed.

Going back to the article, there are interesting tidbits of information that would have been common knowledge to the readers of the newspaper, but might be unfamiliar to us today.

First, we see from the title and other content that Thomas was brought up on charges of attempted suicide. The fact is, suicide was considered a crime in England until 1961.[10] Those who attempted suicide could be prosecuted and imprisoned. Under old English laws, a suicide victim would be buried at a crossroads (not in a church yard), and their property declared forfeited to the crown.[11] However, prosecutions were rare, and juries frequently brought in a verdict of “temporary insanity” as a means of avoiding punishment.[12], [13] Rather than considering him insane, it appears that the judge took Thomas’ word that he had not intended to kill himself.

I thought it was interesting that the police sergeant was referred to by the number “16R.” It turns out that this was his collar number, with the “R” designating the Greenwich police division.[14], [15]

A number of places are mentioned in the article. These include the River Thames, the Greenwich Hospital, the Ship Tavern, and the Greenwich Union. I’ve marked some of these on an old map of London (you’ll need to click on it to see it clearly).[16]

Detail of Ordnance Survey Map Essex LXXIII; Thomas’s approximate path across the Thames and the location where he was found are marked on the far left; the Greenwich Union Workhouse is circled at the upper right; reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (https://maps.nls.uk/index.html) under Creative Commons license (Click on image to enlarge)

Since the story says Thomas threw “himself into the River Thames opposite Greenwich Hospital,” I’ve marked the north side of the Thames with a star, across from the “Royal Hospital,” shown on the map. The Thames must have been very cold in early April. The Ship Tavern, where the police sergeant found Thomas, is circled, just west of the hospital. The tavern was well known because it was the site of many “whitebait ministerial dinners” held at the end of Parliamentary sessions.[17]

The Greenwich Union, where Thomas was admitted for three days, was a large institution, supported by local taxes, to house the poor, infirm, and elderly.[18] This was located about 8/10ths of a mile east of the Ship Tavern. Thomas was probably admitted to the infirmary, which included wards for the insane.[19]

Thomas related that he had come to London to visit the Crystal Palace. This location would have been well-known to every Londoner. The Crystal Palace was originally built in Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition of 1851.[20] The structure contained “the greatest area of glass ever seen in a building, and astonished visitors with its clear walls and ceilings that did not require interior lights.”[21] After the exhibition, the Crystal Palace was relocated to Sydenham Hill in South London, where it became a major attraction, featuring fountains, exhibits, entertainment, an amusement park, and sporting events.[22] It was finally destroyed by fire in 1936.[23]

The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, 1851, from Dickinson’s Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851 (London: Dickinson Brothers, 1852); online image, Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/Dickinsonscompr1 : accessed 24 February 2018) (Click on image to enlarge)

Crystal Palace was located some five miles southwest of where Thomas was found in Greenwich. This makes me wonder how he got from there to the bank of the Thames opposite the Royal Hospital. It seems unlikely that he could have done this in his drunken state, so I suspect that the business he had attended to before he started drinking took place on the north side of the Thames.

What happened to Thomas after this incident? I’m afraid that is a mystery. It turns out that the 1871 newspaper article is the last mention of Thomas being alive that I have been able to locate. His name does not appear in Peterborough directories of 1876 or 1877. He is absent from the 1881 or later censuses (by coincidence, the 1871 census was taken just a few days before his trip to London). His death is not registered.

The only record I have been able to find is the National Calendar of Probates from 1900. This states that Thomas Casbon “of the Cathedral-precincts Peterborough nurseryman died in or since May 1887” (my emphasis), and names his son, Charles Wheeley Casbon, as administrator of the estate. His estate was valued at 67 pounds, 3 shillings – a paltry sum.[24] The fact that an exact date of death is not given and that Thomas’ estate was not probated until 13 years after the presumed year of his death is unusual, and leads me to believe that his whereabouts were known until May 1887; but then he either disappeared without a trace, or his body was not found until a later date. Interestingly, his wife, Emily, is listed as married in the 1881 census, and widowed in 1891.[25], [26]

Maybe one of his descendants, if there are any, knows the rest of the story. I would love to hear it!

[1] “Greenwich,” The (London) Standard, 12 April 1871, p. 7, col. 5; online image, The British Newspaper Archive (https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0000183/18710412/053/0007 : accessed 24 September 2016).
[2] “London, England, Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1659-1930,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/60391/31537_214606-00154 : accessed 20 February 2018), images 155-6 of 388, Thomas Casbon, admitted 8 Apr 1871, Greenwich Union; citing Board of Guardians records held by the London Metropolitan Archives.
[3] “London, England, Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1659-1930,” (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/60391/31537_214606-00157 : accessed 20 February 2018), image 158 of 388, Thomas Casbon, discharged 11 Apr 1871, Greenwich Union; citing London Metropolitan Archives.
[4] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008”, database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2NS3-95C : accessed 5 August 2016), Thomas Casbon, 1st qtr, 1840, St Ives (Huntingdonshire), vol. 14/211, line 9; citing findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing General Register Office, Southport.
[5] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005,” database, FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2D7G-RM1 : accessed 22 September 2016), Thomas Casbon, 2d qtr, 1865, Pancras, London. 1865, quarter 2, vol. 1B, p. 11; from “England & Wales Marriages, 1837-2005,” database, findmypast; citing General Register Office.
[6] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2X9G-QWX : accessed 24 February 2018), Charles W Casbon, 3d qtr, 1866, Peterborough, Northampton, vol. 3B/211, line 314; from “England & Wales Births, 1837-2006,” database, findmypast; citing General Register Office.
[7] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2XQ9-1PP : accessed 24 February 2018), Edith Emily Casbon, 2d qtr, 1868, Pancras, London, vol. 1B/168, line 327; from “England & Wales Births, 1837-2006,” database, findmypast; citing General Register Office.
[8] “England & Wales, Civil Divorce Records, 1858-1916,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2465/40243_612057_1776-00000 : accessed 24 February 2018), wife’s petition, Emily Casbon, 1868; citing The National Archives, J77/84/787, Kew.
[9] “1871 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1871%2f0001569724 : accessed 31 March 2017), Emily Casbone (age 25) in household of Samuel W Cantrill, London, St. Pancras Crescent; citing [The National Archives], RG 10, piece 235, folio 15, p. 23.
[10] “Suicide Act 1961,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_Act_1961 : accessed 20 February 2018), rev. 11 Feb 18, 12:57.
[11] Ernest Hart, ed., “‘Unsound Mind’ Verdicts on Suicide,” British Medical Journal, 1892, Vol. 2, 22 Oct, pp. 909-10; online image, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=VIpMAQAAMAAJ : accessed 24 February 2018).
[12] Gerry Holt, “When suicide was illegal,” 3 Aug 2011, BBC News (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-14374296 : accessed 21 February 2018).
[13] Hart, ed., “’Unsound Mind’ Verdicts on Suicide,” British Medical Journal,” 1892; Google Books.
[14] “London Police – Family History Inquiries,” History by the Yard (http://www.historybytheyard.co.uk/family_history.htm : accessed 20 February 2018).
[15] “History of the Metropolitan Police Service,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Metropolitan_Police_Service : accessed 20 February 2018), rev. 18 Feb 18, 17:47.
[16] Map, Essex LXXIII (Southampton: Ordnance Survey Office, 1870-82, six-inch to the mile; online image, National Library of Scotland (http://maps.nls.uk/view/102342032# : accessed 19 February 2018).
[17] “Ship Tavern, River Front, Greenwich, c. 1860,” Ideal Homes:a History of South-East London Suburbs (http://www.ideal-homes.org.uk/greenwich/assets/galleries/central-greenwich/ship-tavern-1860 : accessed 19 February 2018).
[18] “Workhouse,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workhouse : accessed 21 February 2018), rev. 21 Feb 18, 12:15.
[19] “Greenwich, Kent, London,” The Workhouse: The story of an institution (http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Greenwich : accessed 20 February 2018).
[20] “The Crystal Palace,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crystal_Palace#Relocation_and_redesign : accessed 20 February 2018), rev. 18 Feb 2018, 03:11.
[21] “The Crystal Palace,” Wikipedia.
[22] Gary Holland, “Crystal Palace: A History,” 24 Sep 14, BBC Home (http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2004/07/27/history_feature.shtml : accessed 21 February 2018).
[23] “The Crystal Palace,” Wikipedia.
[24] “England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966”, database with images, Ancestry Library Edition (accessed through participating libraries: accessed 27 September 2016), Casbon, Thomas, 1900, died in or since May 1887; citing Principal Probate Registry, London.
[25] “1881 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1881%2f0006540493 : accessed 31 March 2017), E Casbon in household of S W Cantrill, Middlesex, Hornsey, 17 Ravenstone Rd; citing [The National Archives], RG 11, piece 1374, folio 17, p. 28.
[26] “1891 Census of England Wales & Scotland,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1891%2f0008037559 : accessed 31 March 2017), Emily Casbon in household of Charles Casbon, Hornsey, Middlesex, 6 Alexandra Rd; citing [The National Archives], RG 12, piece 1059, folio 130, p. 51.

How doth your garden grow? Part 3

After a brief interlude, it’s time to resume and conclude this series on the Casbons of Peterborough.

Generation 4, Children of John Casbon (1832-1885): Thomas (1854 – 1910), Sarah (1855-1859) Mary (1860 – ?), Elizabeth (1861 – ?), John (1863 – 1925), and Sarah Jane (1865 – ?) Casbon

If you’re keeping track, Thomas, born 1854 in Peterborough, is the sixth Thomas I’ve mentioned in this series, beginning with Thomas Casborn (Generation “Zero”) of Littleport. His son Thomas (Generation 1) was the first gardener. Thomas (G1) had two sons (Generation 2) named Thomas: the first died in childhood; the second was the first to reside in Peterborough. His sons (Generation 3) were Thomas and John. The final Thomas (Generation 4) is John’s son.

5 Generations of Thomas Casbon
Diagram showing five generations of Thomas (Click on image to enlarge)

Thomas (Generation 4) was also a gardener, the final generation of gardeners in the family. He married Elizabeth Pettifor in Peterborough in 1876.[1] They probably lived briefly in Yorkshire, since their first child, Emily, was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire in 1878.[2] In 1881 they were living on Green Lane in Peterborough[3] with Emily and their son Charles Arthur (also known as just “Arthur,” b. 1880 in Peterborough[4]).

Thomas and family were living in the village of Hemingfield, Yorkshire in 1891,[5] but returned to Peterborough, where they were again residing in 1901.[6] Elizabeth died there in 1906[7] and Thomas died in 1910.[8]

It seems that Thomas was an active member of the Methodist church, occasionally preaching in and around Peterborough.[9]

Stamford Mercury 7Jul1905 T Casbon Preaches Deeping St James
(Click on image to enlarge) Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved. With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk). 

John (Generation 3) Casbon’s first daughter Sarah was born in Peterborough 1855.[10] She died in an accidental drowning in 1859.[11]

Mary Casbon, oldest daughter of John, was born 1860 in Peterborough. She was married to John Thomas Cornwall in 1880,[12] and had at least nine children.[13],[14] As of 1911, she and her family were still living in Peterborough. I have not located a record of her death.

Of John’s daughter Elizabeth, I have even less information. She was born 1861 in Peterborough. In the 1881 census she was either living or visiting at the household of her brother Thomas, and employed as a dressmaker.[15] She married either William Buxton or Albert Edward Swain in 1907.[16]

John’s son John, born 1863 in Peterborough, married Jane Rolfe in 1884.[17] They had three daughters: Edith, Lillian, and Nellie.[18] Edith was born in Rochdale, Lancashire,[19] so it seems likely they lived there for a time. In the 1891 census, John’s occupation was Grocer,[20] but from 1901 on he was listed as a cab proprietor.[21] John died 1925 in Peterborough,[22] and Jane died in 1947.[23]

John and Thomas C 1910 directory PeterboroughExcerpt from 1910 Peterborough city directory, showing Generation 4 brothers John and Thomas Casbon (Click on image to enlarge)

Finally, John’s daughter Sarah Jane was born 1865 in Peterborough.[24] She married Alfred Clark in Peterborough 1886.[25] They lived in Peterborough and had three children.[26]

Generation 4, Children of Thomas Casbon (1840-1887): Charles W (1866 – ?) and Edith Emily Casbon

Recall that Thomas Casbon (b.1840) married Emily Cantrill in 1865, and she filed for divorce in 1868. The children then grew up with their mother in London.

Charles W. Casbon was born in Peterborough in 1866.[27] He appears with his mother in the 1871 through 1891 censuses. In 1901 he is listed on the census as a visitor in the home of Marian Carter. His occupation is listed as Photographer’s Draughtsman. This is the last record I’ve been able to find of Charles.

Charles C b1866 Pboro 1901 census Hornsey
1901 Census for Hornsey, London, England. (Click on image to enlarge)

Edith Emily Casbon was born in Camden Town, a part of London, in 1868. Given the location, she was probably born after her mother separated from Thomas. She is recorded in the 1871 through 1891 censuses with her mother and brother. Edith married Paul Alexandre Taupenot in Tendring, Essex, 1897.[28] There is a separate marriage record for them in Paris, France, 1899.[29] Since I can find no further records of her in England, I suspect that she remained in France.

Edith Emily C b.1868 M Paul Taupenot Paris 1899 b
Marriage record of Paul Taupenot to Edith Emily Casbon
1899, Paris. (Click on image to enlarge)

This concludes the series on the Peterborough Casbons. It does not conclude their role in the Casbon Journey. They are the forebears of some of today’s Casbons. They may pop up from time to time in future posts, as may their descendants. If any of their descendants read this post, I hope they will leave a comment and hopefully fill in a few blanks.

[1] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2DP8-LQ4 [accessed 28 September 2015]
[2] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008.” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2XF7-6L5 [accessed 28 September 2015]
[3] “1881 Census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q27C-CXMT [accessed 2 August 2016]
[4] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008”, FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2XV7-CM1 [accessed 28 September 2015]
[5] “1891 Census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:7FV6-GT2 [accessed 2 August 2016]
[6] “1901 Census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X9YN-ZRV [accessed 2 August 2016]
[7] “England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2NYG-DFX [accessed 28 September 2015]
[8] “England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2J7C-BFN [accessed 2 August 2016]
[9] Stamford Mercury – Friday 07 July 1905. The British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000237/19050707/034/0004 [accessed 29 September 2016]
[10] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2N48-MWD [accessed 26 September 2016]
[11] “Peterborough…Two Children Drowned.” The Cambridge Independent Press, Huntingdon, Wisbech, Ely, Bedford, Peterborough, & Lynn Gazette, 21 May 1859 The British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000418/18590521/128/0007 [accessed 25 September 2016]
[12] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2DRD-P85 [accessed 22 September 2016]
[13] “1901 Census of England and Wale.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X9YN-RDJ [accessed 22 September 2016]
[14] “1911 England, Wales & Scotland Census.” findmypast http://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=gbc%2f1911%2frg14%2f08695%2f0199%2f1 [accessed 22 September 2016]
[15] “1881 Census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q27C-CXMT [accessed 2 August 2016]
[16] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2DDN-PZR [accessed 22 September 2016]
[17] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2DV5-N7F [accessed 20 October 2015]
[18] “1901 Census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X9YN-YCQ [accessed 2 Aug 2016]
[19] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2XGT-5D6 [accessed 26 September 2016]
[20] “1891 Census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:4LX8-9ZM [accessed 2 August 2016]
[21] “1901 Census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X9YN-YCQ [accessed 2 Aug 2016]
[22] “England & Wales, National Probate Calendar, 1858-1966”, Ancestry http://www.ancestry.com [accessed 10 August 2016]
[23] “England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVCQ-FH1Q [accessed 29 October 2015]
[24] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2XMP-GB5 [accessed 22 September 2016]
[25] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2DD9-XBN [accessed 24 September 2016]
[26] “1901 Census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X9YN-TND [accessed 24 September 2016]
[27] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2X9G-QWX [accessed 26 September 2016]
[28] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:26MZ-CG6 [accessed 27 September 2016]
[29] “Paris, France & Vicinity Marriage Banns, 1860-1902.” Ancestry http://www.ancestry.com [accessed 27 September 2016]

How doth your garden grow? Part 2

I’ve been trying to decide how to best proceed with the story of the Peterborough Casbons. Part of the challenge is in deciding how much or how little information to include. The other part is in trying to turn limited information into a narrative that will be interesting to somebody besides myself. The nice thing about a blog, however, is that if a particular post doesn’t interest you, you don’t have to read it!

That said, the format I am using is a loosely structured version of a traditional descendant report, listing relevant details about successive generations. At some point in the future I hope to add a separate page with genealogical summaries of the various families as a reference for interested viewers.

I just subscribed last week to The British Newspaper Archive and have been downloading like crazy. I’ve found a lot of information that will be great fodder for future posts.

The previous post “How doth your garden grow? Part 1” covered the family’s origins in Littleport, Cambridgeshire, and two generations of the family beginning with Thomas Casborn (1776-1855). We now proceed to:

Generation 3. John (1832 – 1885), Sarah (1834-1904) and Thomas (1840 – 1887) Casbon

Thomas Casbourn (Generation 2) had three children: John (b. abt 1832), Sarah (b. abt. 1834), and Thomas (b. 1840), all born in Somersham, Huntingdonshire.[1]

After moving with his family to Peterborough, John Casbon married Rebecca Ann Speechly in 1853. John and Rebecca had five children: Thomas (b. 1854),[2] Sarah (1855 – 1859[3],[4]), Mary (b. 1860),[5] Elizabeth (b. 1861),[6] John (b. 1863),[7] and Sarah Jane (b. 1865).[8] In 1861 John was working as a gardener in Peterborough.[9]

John C b1832 Somersham 1861 census Peterborough
John Casbon in 1861 England and Wales Census, Peterborough, Northhamptonshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

In the 1860s, John moved to Spalding, Lincolnshire, about 16 miles north of Peterborough. There he was listed as a “fruiterer, greengrocer, seedsman & florist.”[10]

John C b1832 Somersham 1868 Spalding directory
1868 Post Office Directory of Lincolnshire (Click in image to enlarge)

He was still living in Spalding in 1871, where he was listed on the census as a “Nurseryman.”[11] From this ad, it appears he decided to sell his business in Spalding later in 1871.[12]

Stamford Mercury 15Dec1871 Sale of J Casbon nursery Spalding
(Click on image to enlarge) Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved. With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).

By 1881 all the children were gone, and John and Rebecca were back in Peterborough.[13] John died in 1885 at the age of 53[14] and Rebecca died 1 year later. She was 63.[15]

Sarah appears in the 1851 census as a household servant in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.[16]

Sarah C b1834 Somersham 1851 census Chatteris
(Click on image to enlarge)

She married a house painter named Richard Baker in 1857,[17] lived in Peterborough, and had at least 8 children.[18] Sarah died 1904 in Peterborough.[19]

Thomas was also a gardener. He appears in the 1841, 1851, and 1861 censuses with his parents. He married Emily Cantrill in London 1865[20] and had two children, Charles (b.abt 1866 in Peterborough) and Emily (b. abt 1869, Camden Town, Middlesex). In 1868 Emily applied for divorce.[21] I don’t know if the divorce was granted, but it appears that Emily took the children and never lived with Thomas again. In the 1871 census, Thomas is listed as married, occupation gardener, and living alone in Peterborough[22], while Emily, and the two children were living in London with her parents.[23]

Thomas C b1840 Somersham 1871 census Peterborough Emily Charles Edith Casbon 1871 census London
(Click on image to enlarge)

Thomas died 1887 in Peterborough.[24] Emily retained the Casbon surname and was listed as married in the 1871 and 1881 censuses.[25] She is listed as a widow in 1891.[26] She died in 1891 at the age of 44.[27]

[1] “1841 England, Scotland and Wales census.” findmypast http://www.findmypast.com [accessed 3 August 2016]
[2] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008”, FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2NH4-CCV [accessed 2 August 2016]
[3] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2N48-MWD [accessed 26 September 2016]
[4] “Peterborough…Two Children Drowned.” The Cambridge Independent Press, Huntingdon, Wisbech, Ely, Bedford, Peterborough, & Lynn Gazette http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/ [accessed 25 September 2016]
[5] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2NCD-QQQ [accessed 22 September 2016]
[6] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2NZY-3Z4 [accessed 22 September 2016]
[7] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2616-QHQ [accessed 28 September 2015]
[8] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2XMP-GB5 [accessed 22 September 2016]
[9] “1861 census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M75L-YW6 [accessed 2 August 2016]
[10] Kelly, E.R. “The Post Office Directory of Lincolnshire.” [1868] University of Leicester Special Collections Online http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16445coll4/id/167125/rec/4 [accessed 22 September 2016]
[11] “1871 census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VRXT-FQZ [accessed 2 August 2016]
[12] Advertisement in Stamford Mercury, 15 December 1871. The British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000237/18711215/067/0002 [accessed 26 September 2016]
[13] “1881 census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q27C-CF7D [accessed 3 August 2016]
[14] “England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2J6S-1SB [accessed 10 Aug 2016]
[15] “England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2JTX-DQD [accessed 14 Sep 2016]
[16] “1851 census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:SGCY-JDV [accessed 4 August 2016]
[17] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2DQ8-H82 [accessed 22 September 2016]
[18] “1881 census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q27C-CQJL [accessed 22 September 2016]
[19] “England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2N5P-P1K [accessed 26 September 2015]
[20] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2D7G-RM1 [accessed 22 September 2016]
[21] “Divorce Court File: 787. Appellant: Emily Casbon. Respondent: Thomas Casbon.” The National Archives http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ [accessed 26 September 2016]
[22] “1871 Census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VFF9-HH8 [accessed 26 September 2016]
[23] “England and Wales Census, 1871.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VB68-ZPD [accessed 22 September 2016]
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