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 (Ancestry.com) (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” (Findmypast.com). 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 (Ancestry.com) (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 (https://familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : 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 (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : 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 (https://www.cfhs.org.uk/tokens/tokpub.cfm : 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 (https://www.findmypast.com/transcript?id=GBM%2FSOLIDX%2F00170082 : accessed 11 Nov 2016).
[6] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NBFC-TLQ : 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 ((https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7619 : 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 (https://www.findmypast.com/transcript?id=TNA/CCC/CRIM9/015/28981/3), 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 (https://search.findmypast.com/search-world-records/cheshire-diocese-of-chester-parish-marriages-1538-1910).
[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 (https://www.findmypast.com/transcript?id=GBPRS%2FD%2F767404785%2F1 :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 (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/8767 : 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 (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7619 : accessed 23 Aug 20) >Cambridgeshire >Barrington >ALL >2 >image 15 of 31.
[17] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837–2005”, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2D5X-CWM: 13 December 2014).
[18] “England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837–2007,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVH4-9L5F : 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 (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=8767 : 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 (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7619 : 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2DRB-92T : accessed 26 September 2015), George Casbon, 1881; from “England & Wales Marriages, 1837-2005,” database, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 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 (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6598 : 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 (https://search.findmypast.com/ : 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 (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7619 : accessed 24 Aug 20) >Cambridgeshire >Meldreth >ALL >15 >image 7 of 32.
[27] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837–2005”, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2DCN-4ZD : 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 (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2352 : 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 (https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp : 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,” (https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp : 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.

The Death of William Casbon (~1835–1896)

In “William Problem, Solved!” I mentioned that William Casbon died by suicide. Here is the news article describing his death and the surrounding circumstances. I debated with myself whether to post this because it describes a very private and tragic matter, but I felt that the article was written with sensitivity and worth sharing. I hope my readers agree.

Herts and Cambs (England) Reporter and Royston Crow,
13 Mar 1896, p. 5, col. 6; newspaper image © The British Library Board; all rights reserved; with thanks to The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) (Click on image to enlarge)

Sad Suicide.—On Saturday the County Coroner (Mr. A. J. Lyon) held an inquest at the Railway Tavern respecting the death of William Casbon, aged 61 years, fruit grower.—Sarah Casbon, the widow, deposed that she last saw the deceased alive at 10 a.m. that day: they were in the garden together. She left her husband and shortly afterwards she was unable to find him. She searched for him and eventually found him in a shed at the bottom of the garden. He had a line round his neck and appeared to be quite dead. She cut the rope and laid him down. She then called to a man named Simpson and Dr. Bindloss was fetched. Her husband had been depressed since he came from the Hospital about two years and a half ago.—Alfred Gray, signalman, in the employ of the G.N.R. Company, at Meldreth, said about 10 10 a.m. Mrs. Casbon said to him “I hope you will be a friend to me, my poor husband has hung himself.” He went into the shed and saw the deceased lying on the ground. There was a cord on his breast and a piece of cord was hanging from a raft. Casbon was warm, but dead.—Mr. Bindloss, surgeon, Melbourn, stated that he was sent for about 10 45 a.m. When he arrived Casbon was dead. He had made an examination of the body. There was a coloured mark round the deceased’s neck as if caused by a cord, and death appeared to be due from the hanging. He attended deceased about two years ago for several weeks. He did not think deceased was bad enough to be placed under restraint, but he recommended a change of scene.—The jury returned a verdict of suicide whilst temporarily insane.

Note the jury’s verdict of “suicide whilst temporarily insane.” This verdict was commonly employed because of the peculiar legal status of suicide in England. Suicide, or “self-murder,” became a crime under under English common law in the 13th century. If proven guilty of this crime, the victim was denied a Christian burial and their property could be confiscated and given to the crown. A jury verdict of temporary insanity was frequently employed to avoid these criminal penalties. A series of Parliamentary acts gradually reduced the penalties for suicide, but it wasn’t until 1961 that suicide was completely decriminalized. Prior to that, survivors of suicide attempts could be fined or sentenced to prison terms for their crime.  

I don’t know why William was hospitalized two years before his death, but it appears that he had been clinically depressed for quite some time. There would have been few, if any, resources available to help him. One cannot help but feel sorry for him and great sympathy for his poor widow, Sarah.

References:
1. Gerry Holt, “When Suicide was Illegal,” BBC News Magazine, online edition, 3 Aug 2011 (https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-14374296 : accessed 5 Oct 2020).
2. Georgina Laragy, “’A Peculiar Species of Felony’: Suicide, Medicine, and the Law in Victorian Britain and Ireland,” Journal of Social History, Spring 2013, vol. 46/3, pp. 732–743.

William Problem, Solved!

Oh Joy! Oh Joy! It finally arrived!

“It” is the marriage certificate for William Casbon and Sarah West that I ordered in late August after writing The Two William Problem. I knew from the General Register Office (U.K.) website that the certificate was dispatched on September 10th and I’ve been eagerly awaiting its arrival ever since.

This was the treat in my mailbox yesterday!

Readers may recall that two children named William Casbon were born in Meldreth, Cambridgeshire—one to William Casbon and one to his brother James—in the 1835–­1836 time frame. One of the two married Sarah West in 1855 and can be traced in records all the way to his death in 1896; the other was lost to follow up. The question was, Which one married Sarah?

To learn the answer, I needed to expend some funds and purchase the actual marriage record of William and Sarah from the General Register Office.

Here is the certified copy of the record …

(Click on image to enlarge)

… and a more detailed view.

Copy of the marriage record of William Casbon and Sarah West, 10 November 1855, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire (Click on image to enlarge)

The certificate contains a wealth of information. Reading from the top down, we can see that the couple was married in the Baptist Chapel at Melbourn. The marriage took place on 10 November 1855; the bride and groom’s names are given and their ages are listed as 21 and 30 years, respectively. He was a bachelor and she a spinster (i.e., previously unmarried). His occupation was farm labourer and hers dressmaker. Both were residing in Meldreth at the time of the marriage.

Now for the big news: William’s father was William Casbon, farm labourer—not James. Problem solved! We also see that Sarah’s father was John West, a gardener.

Detail of the marriage certificate showing the fathers’ names and occupations (Click on image to enlarge)

Although this confirms what I believed, it contradicts what several others have listed in their online family trees, namely, that James Casbon was the father of William and father-in-law of Sarah. It’s nice (and important) to finally have proof of the correct relationship.

Aside from solving the problem of William’s parentage, the certificate contains several items of interest. The first is the fact that they were married in the local Baptist Chapel. This will not sound unusual to modern ears, but in England it was a relatively new thing in the mid-19th century for marriages to take place in so-called non-conformist denominations. The Marriage Act of 1753 required that all marriages, except those of Jews or Quakers, be performed by the Church of England. If a couple failed to wed in the Anglican Church, they had no legal rights as married people.[1] It wasn’t until 1836 that a new Marriage Act allowed couples to be married in buildings belonging to other religious groups, including Baptists.

Aside from their marriage, I have no evidence that William and Sarah were affiliated with the Baptist Church. Their children’s’ baptisms are not recorded in the Baptist church register, nor in the Meldreth (Anglican) parish register.

William and Sarah’s ages are also interesting. Based on census reports and his age at death, I estimate William’s birth year as 1835. The marriage certificate suggests that he was born in 1834. I wonder if he intentionally overstated his age on the marriage certificate. On the other hand, Sarah’s age was understated. Her baptism occurred in April 1832; therefore, she was already 33 years old when she married William.[2] It was unusual then, as it is now, for men to be so much younger than their wives.

This was not the only important difference between William and Sarah. Although not obvious from the record, they came from different social classes. As the son of a farm labourer and being one himself, William was in the lower working class. Sarah’s father was a gardener. This might not seem significant, but in fact, censuses and other civil registers show that John West was a landowner and had the rights to serve on a jury and to vote. His status was more like that of a skilled tradesman.

In the lower left-hand corner of the certificate, we see that William signed with his mark and Sarah signed her own name. This shows that he was at least partially illiterate, while she was able to read and write. Sarah’s education is confirmed by the 1841 census, where her occupation is given as “school mistress.”[3] Given that children’s education was not compulsory at the time, Sarah’s literacy is probably more unusual that William’s illiteracy and is another reflection of their different social classes.

One other difference not shown in the marriage record is that William and Sarah came from different places. William’s home was Meldreth, in southern Cambridgeshire, and Sarah grew up in Soham, Cambridgeshire, about 22 miles northwest of Meldreth and on the opposite side of Cambridge city.

Although an insignificant difference by today’s standards, the distance is outside of the norm for their time. It would have been unusual to know someone beyond about a ten-mile radius of one’s home village.

How did a farm labourer from Meldreth become acquainted with an educated woman from Soham? This is only a guess, but perhaps Sarah moved to Meldreth or Melbourn for employment purposes. Although she came from a higher social class, her father died in 1853[4] and probably left his family in a state of financial distress (supported by the fact that his widow, Sarah, was described as a “washerwoman” in the 1861 census).[5] Sarah (the daughter), an educated unmarried woman, might have found employment in Melbourn as a dressmaker or even as a governess. At the age of 33, she might have been more willing to overlook class differences in her quest for a husband. Could pregnancy have been a factor in the marriage decision? It seems unlikely, since their first child was born one year after their marriage.

Whatever the reasons, the couple had a long and fruitful marriage. They had three children, Walter (b. 1856), William (b. 1860), and Priscilla (b. 1862). They had been married more than 40 years when William died (sadly, by suicide) in 1896.[6] Sarah died on 22 December 1905 at the age of 83.[7]

I’m fortunate that my two-William problem had such an easy solution. In many cases, records do not exist or cannot be located to resolve this kind of problem.


[1] “Marriage Act 1836,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_Act_1836 : accessed 28 Nov 20), rev. 13 Sep 20, 15:49.
[2] “England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=9841 : accessed 28 Sep 20); entry for Sarah West, 6 April 1823, Cambridge, England.
[3] 1841 England census, Cambridgeshire, Soham, ED 2, p. 5, line 14; imaged at Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8978/ : accessed 28 Sep 20) >Cambridgeshire >Soham >ALL >District 2 >image 4 of 17; citing The National Archives, HO 107/73/14.
[4] “England, Cambridgeshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1538-1983,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1465708 : accessed 29 Sep 20) >007676701 >image 474 of 520; Soham deaths, p. 182, no. 1449, John West, Soham, 80 yrs old, 2 Dec 1853.
[5] 1861 England census, Cambridgeshire, Soham, ED 6, p. 47, schedule 278; imaged at Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8767 : accessed 29 Sep 20) >Cambridgeshire >Soham >ALL >District 6 >image 48 of 50; citing The National Archives RG 9/1036.
[6] “Meldreth: Sad Suicide,” Herts and Cambs (England) Reporter and Royston Crow, 13 Mar 1896, p. 5, col. 6; online image, “The British Newspaper Archive,” findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0001795%2f18960313%2f075 : 28 July 2017).
[7] “Holy Trinity Churchyard: Monumental Inscriptions,” Meldreth History (https://www.meldrethhistory.org.uk/topics/holy_trinity_church-2-2/churchyard/holy_trinity_churchyard_headstones : accessed 29 Sep 20).

Jesse Casbon in the News

Of Thomas Casbon’s (1803–1888) three sons, I know the least about Jesse. He was born at Meldreth, or possibly Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, in 1843.[1] He came to the United States (via Quebec) aboard the ship Parkfield in 1846. Jesse served in Company D, 148th Ohio Regiment, during the American Civil War and afterwards joined his family in Porter County, Indiana.[2] He married Emily Price, almost twelve years his junior, in 1872,[3] and had five children—a son who died in infancy and four daughters. Most of his adult years were spent farming in Porter County, Indiana. He died at the age of 90 in 1934.[4]

I have recently received some interesting newspaper articles about Jesse. They fill in a few blanks about his life, although they raise questions as well.

“Caution!”

The Porter County (Indiana) Vidette, 30 December 1875, p. 2, col. 6; courtesy of Steve Shook (Click on image to enlarge)

                                                               Caution!
Whereas my wife Emily has left my bed and board without just cause or provocation, I warn all persons not to harbor or trust her on my account, as I shall pay no debts of her contracting after this date.                                                                   JESSE CASBON.
    December 15th, 1875

I received this item from Steve Shook a few weeks ago. Steve is the unofficial Porter County historian as well as administrator of the excellent Porter County, Indiana, genealogy and history website. He also writes a blog titled Porter County’s Past: An Amateur Historian’s Perspective. I highly recommend both of these sites to anyone with family links in Porter County.

What does this brief newspaper item tell us? To put it in simple terms, Jesse and Emily’s marriage must have been going through a “rough patch.” We know nothing about the circumstances or who, if anyone, was at fault. We only know that Emily left Jesse and he was notifying the public that he would not be responsible for her continuing support.

The couple had been married two and a half years at this point. Their oldest daughter, Maude, was about 18 months old. Did Emily take Maude with her or leave her behind?
(It’s also possible also that a son, Ivan, had been born, but we don’t have birth or death dates for him.)

Apparently, advertisements such as this were quite common well into the twentieth century. It was usually husbands, but occasionally wives, who posted the ads. The intent of the ad might have been to shame and embarrass the spouse as well as to serve as a legal notice. I suspect that in this case, it was also an attempt to force Emily to return to Jesse’s “bed and board.” She apparently did so in short order because the next event I know of in their married life is the birth of their daughter Anna in December 1876, just a year after the ad was placed.

Was it a happy marriage? I can’t say. However, they remained married for 21 years until Emily’s death in 1893. I have written of Emily before, regarding her hobby of beekeeping and her deathbed testimony of Christian faith. It seems that their separation in 1875 was a temporary blip in their married life, whether it was happy or not.

“Public Sale, March 16th

Steve Shook also sent me this advertisement. It was placed about three months after the “Caution!” item.

The Porter County Vidette, 9 March 1876, p. 2, col. 4; courtesy of Steve Shook (Click on image to enlarge)

                                                     Public Sale, March 16th
I will offer for sale, three miles south of Gates’ corners, on
     Thursday, March 16th, 1876,
the following property: 3 work horses, 1 two-year-old colt, 6 head milch cows, 15 head of stock hogs, 4 brood sows, 200 bushels of corn, 6 or 8 tons of hay, 1 two-horse wagon, 1 set of double harness, 1 Furst & Bradley corn plow, 1 laporte corn sheller, Plows, Drags, and Household Furniture, consisting of Stove, Chairs, Bedstead, Cupboard, Table, Bureau, etc. …

I wonder what was going on in Jesse’s life at this time. It looks like he might have been liquidating as many of his possessions as possible. Perhaps he was just raising cash to buy land, since he purchased 40 acres of land at Gates Corner two months later.[5] (Per Steve Shook, “Gates’ Corners is located where present days Indiana state Road 2 and county roads 100 South and 300 West intersect one another … named after Moses Gates, who owned 160 acres directly north of this intersection.”) If Jesse was short on cash, it was only a temporary condition since he was described later in life as “a prominent farmer”[6] and “a wealthy widower.”[7]

“Animals Cremated”

The Porter County Vidette, 7 December 1900, p. 2, col. 1; microfilm image, Porter County Public Library (Click on image to enlarge)

     Valparaiso, Ind. Dec. 5.—Jesse Casbon’s barn, together with the contents, 14 cattle, three horses, the entire grain crop and farming implements, was destroyed by fire. Loss, $3,500; partially insured.

I’ve had this article for quite some time and posted it at an earlier date, but decided to re-post, since it fits in with today’s theme.

By this time (1900), Jesse was living in Center Township, just outside of Valparaiso, on about 160 acres of land adjacent to what was known as the Porter County Poor Farm. I don’t have any other information about the fire or its aftermath.

“A Birthday Party”

One day after Steve Shook sent me the “Public Sale” advertisement, I received the text of this article from Ilaine Church, a distant cousin-in-law and frequent genealogy correspondent. It describes a much happier episode in Jesse’s life.

The (Valparaiso) Evening Messenger, 25 Nov 1912; courtesy of Ilaine Church (Click on image to enlarge)

     Jesse Casbon, residing on the Laporte road, east of town, was the victim of a clever surprise Sunday, the occasion being his 69th birthday anniversary. The affair was secretly planned and carried out by his two daughters, the Misses Edna and Lily Casbon. Quite a number of relatives repaired to the home, but the disagreeable weather during the day kept many away who otherwise would have been in attendance. As a remembrance of the event Mr. Casbon received many valuable presents. At noon the guests were served with a dinner that made the tables groan and creak with its weight. Those present were S. V. Casbon and wife, Thos. Casbon and family, Lawrence Casbon and family, Charles P. Casbon, Jr. and family, and the Misses Iva and Mabel Priest. The afternoon was pleasantly spent in social intercourse and all departed with the wish that the Misses Lily and Edna would get on many more such happy affairs.

One thing I like about old newspapers is how much detail they go into describing local events. I also like this story because it names so many people. Of Jesse’s four daughters, only the two youngest, Lillian and Edna, were unmarried and living in Porter County in 1912. Of the guests mentioned, S.V. Casbon was Jesse’s oldest brother, Sylvester, and Thomas, Lawrence, and Charles P. (incorrectly referred to as “Jr.”) were Sylvester’s sons. Iva and Mabel Priest were the surviving grandchildren of Jesse’s oldest sister, Mary Ann (Casbon) Priest, deceased. By this time, Jesse’s sister Emma was also deceased.

Notably absent was the remaining brother, Charles Thomas Casbon. Was this because of the “disagreeable weather” or was their perhaps some bad blood between Jesse and Charles? I’ll describe the reason this might have been the case in my next post.

Of note is the fact that Jesse was now living east of Valparaiso on the “Laporte road.” LaPorte was the county seat of LaPorte County, directly east of Porter County. A 1911 directory tells us that Jesse lived on rural route 6, which included portions of the LaPorte road (now Indiana route 2).[8]

I have left out a series of news articles that were written between 1909 and early 1912. These will be the subject of my next post.


[1] Meldreth Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), register of baptisms [1813–67],” p. 59, no. 469; accessed as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681–1877,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : accessed 28 April 2017), image 226; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 5.
[2] Ohio, Roster Commission, Official roster of the soldiers of the state of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861–1866 (Cincinnati: The Ohio Valley Press, 1889), vol. 9, p. 583; image copy, Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000454243 : accessed 10 February 2019).
[3] “Indiana Marriages, 1811–2007,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1410397 : accessed 11 September 2018) >Porter > 1871–1875 Volume 4 > image 79 of 246.
[4] Indiana, State Board of Health, Certificate of Death, no. 2487; “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899–2011,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60716 : accessed 13 December 2016), >Certificate >1934 >01>image 2493 of 3006.
[5] Indiana, Porter County, Deed index 6, Grantee, Mar 1876–Dec 83, Jesse Casbon from Stephen William,
13 May 1876; imaged as “Indiana, Porter, Deed records, 1836–1901,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/008035253?cat=609009 : accessed 12 Jan 17); citing FHL Film 1,703,896, Item 5.
[6] “Church Makes Sensational Charge,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Evening Messenger, 30 Jun 1909, p. 1, col. 4; Porter County Public Library, unnumbered microfilm.
[7] “Escaped Bullets; Valparaiso Farmer was Victim of an Attempt at Assassination,” Bedford (Indiana) Daily Mail,
1 Jul 1909, p. 4; imaged at Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 12 Apr 2016).
[8] Bumstead’s Valparaiso City and Porter County Business Directory Including Rural Routes (Chicago: Bumstead & Co., 1911), p. 378; imaged as “U.S. City Directories, 1822–1995,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/2469/ : accessed 31 Mar 20) >Indiana >Valparaiso >1911 >Valparaiso, Indiana, City Directory, 1911 >image 184 of 204.

The Two-William Problem

This post describes a situation that is all too common in genealogy research. What happens when you have two people with the same name at the same place and time? How does one connect them to the right parents, wives, and children? This is a big problem when someone is trying to trace their family tree back in time and they discover two people with the same name, either one of whom who might be their ancestor.

I’ll illustrate with two men from Meldreth, Cambridgeshire. Two brothers, William
(1806–1875) and James (~1813–1884) Casbon, both sons of Isaac Casbon (~1773–1825), each had a son named William, born within a year or so of each other.

Basic family tree showing two of Isaac Casbon’s sons and their two sons, each named William

Births were not registered in England at that time, so birth dates must be estimated from other records, such as baptisms and censuses.

Unfortunately, only one of the Williams was baptized, and the baptismal record only confuses the matter.[1]

Meldreth Parish, register of baptisms; William Casburn, 7 February 1836 (Click on image to enlarge)

As can be seen, William was baptized at Meldreth 7 February 1836. He is said to be the son of William and Elizabeth. That seems straightforward, except, there is no record of William Casbon marrying a woman named Elizabeth. His wife’s name was Mary (Cooper) and she died in July 1835.[2]

On the other hand, William’s brother James (b. about 1813) married Elizabeth Waller, who was still alive in 1836.

So, there is a problem with the baptismal record. The name of either the father or mother is wrong. Maybe the vicar or curate was tired and wrote one the names incorrectly. My guess is that he inadvertently replaced the father’s name with that of the child. If so, the baptism applies to the son of James and Elizabeth, but there is no way to know for sure.

But this is only the beginning of our two-William problem. First, how do we even know that both brothers had sons named William? The answer lies in census records. Both Williams appear with their respective families in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. Here are their entries in 1851.[3]

1851 England census, Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, entry for William Casbon and his family (Click on image
to enlarge)
1851 England census, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, entry for James Casbon and his family (Click on image
to enlarge)

We can see in the upper record that William the father, whose age is incorrectly stated as 40, is a widower and lives with his daughter Elizabeth, age 19, and son William, age 16. This gives us an approximate birth year for William, the son, of 1835. This is consistent with the year his mother died. We can also see in the lower record that James’s family includes his son William, age 15, which gives him a birth year of about 1836.

As we’ve already seen with William the father, ages reported in censuses are frequently incorrect. However, this is less likely to occur with children, and the ages of the two sons in the 1841 census are consistent with the same birth years. So, it is likely that William, the son of William, is about one year older than the son of James.

Unfortunately, the situation becomes unclear from this point forward. We know that a man named William Casbon married Sarah West in 1855.[4] The marriage was registered at Royston, Hertfordshire, a few miles from Meldreth. I only have an index entry of the marriage. This does not include details such as date, location, names and occupations of each party’s father, or names of witnesses. Therefore, I don’t know whose son married Sarah West.

After 1855, I have a complete set of censuses from 1861 through 1891 for William and Sarah. William died at Meldreth 7 March 1896 and Sarah died 22 December 1905.[5]

The grave monument of William and Sarah Casbon, Meldreth, Holy Trinity Church (incidentally, this is the only Casbon monument that remains in the Meldreth churchyard) (Click on image to enlarge)

The inscription reads as follows:

In/ Memory of/ WILLIAM CASBON/who died March 7th 1896/ aged 61 years/
“We hope to meet again at/ The Resurrection of the just/ A light is from the household gone/
A voice we loved is stilled/ A place is vacant in our home/ Which never can be filled”./
Also of / SARAH, wife of the above/ who departed this life/ December 22nd 1905/
aged 83 years./ She hath done what she could/ Her end was peace.

William’s given age of 61 suggests that he was born sometime between March 1834 and March 1835, which would be consistent with him being the son of William (b. 1806). However, this is hardly sufficient to be considered proof.

Of the second William, there is no certain record after the census of 1851. There are no additional census records, no marriage record, and no death or burial records. I have found a couple sources which might refer to him—I will refer to them in a future post—but they provide no clues as to his parentage.

So, we have two Williams, born in about 1835 and 1836. One was married and had a family; we don’t know what happened to the other. One was the son of William (b. 1806) and one was the son of James (b. about 1813), but we don’t know which William was which. This is a problem for the living descendants of William and Sarah West, who can’t determine whether they are descended from William or James.

There are several family trees on Ancestry that list James Casbon as the father of William and father-in-law of Sarah. These do not contain any supporting information or justification for the choice. My own bias is that William (b. 1806) is more likely to be the father of the William who married Sarah West.

Fortunately, there is a potential solution to this problem. I referred above to the marriage record of William and Sarah. The official marriage certificate is supposed to give the names of the bride’s and groom’s fathers. As of this writing, I have ordered a copy of the marriage certificate from the General Register Office in England. When it arrives, I will hopefully have a definitive answer. I will provide an update when I receive the certificate.

Do you have any two-(insert any name) problems in your family tree?


[1] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), register of baptisms (1813–1867), p. 40, no. 360; accessed as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/210742 : accessed 27 Aug 20) >Film #007567609 >image 219 of 699.
[2] Parish of Meldreth, register of burials (1813–1875), p. 29, no. 232, Mary Carsbon, 28 Jul 1835; accessed as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/210742 : accessed 27 Aug 20) >Film #007567609 >image 457 of 699.
[3] 1851 England census, Cambrideshire, Meldreth, ED 5b, p. 7, schedule 28; imaged as “1851 England Census,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/8860 : accessed 27 Aug 20) >Cambridgeshire >Meldreth >ALL >5a >image 8 of 25. 1851 England census, Cambrideshire, Melbourn (“Melbourn in Meldreth”), ED 11c, p. 32, schedule 126; imaged as “1851 England Census,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/8860 : accessed 27 Aug 20) >Cambridgeshire >Melbourn >ALL >11c >image33 of 36.
[4] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2DQ3-WY3 : accessed 23 September 2015).
[5] Kathryn Betts, “Holy Trinity Church, Meldreth: Monumental Inscriptions,” PDF download, Meldreth History (http://www.meldrethhistory.org.uk/page/holy_trinity_churchyard_monumental_inscriptions?path=0p2p120p53p95p94p : accessed 27 August 2020); entry for William and Sarah Casbon, item 27, unnumbered page 8 of 23.

Committed

The Cambridge Chronicle of 26 April 1862 contained this brief report.

Commitments to the Castle. … George Casbon, Meldreth, and John Reed, Whaddon,
running away from the Bassingbourn union with the clothes, 21 days each.

What does this mean? The report gives quite a bit of information, providing you understand some of the terminology and context.

It’s clear from reading the paragraph that all the named individuals have been accused of various crimes or infractions. What does it mean that they were committed to the Castle?

In Cambridgeshire, i.e., Cambridge County, the Castle was the nickname for the county jail (gaol in the U.K.). Thus, being committed to the Castle means being sentenced to spend time in the jail.

The term Castle comes from the fact that the original county jail was a former Norman castle. The castle was demolished in 1807 and a new jail built a short distance away. The Castle nickname remained with the new building. The site of the old castle is now called Castle Mound.

View of Cambridge Castle and Plan of Cambridge Castle engraved by Warren and published in Picturesque Views of the Antiquities of England & Wales, 1786; Public Domain, courtesy of ancestryimages.com

I have posted about people being committed to the Castle before. Ten-year-old John Casbon was briefly committed (before spending the rest of his seven-year sentence at a reform school) after being convicted of arson in 1852. James Casbon was sentenced to two months in the Castle for child neglect in 1870.

Who were George Casbon and John Reed?

George is one of the most common Casbon forenames, but only two Georges were born before 1862, one in 1836 and one in 1846. We can eliminate the first, George S. Casbon, for a few reasons. Although born in Meldreth, by 1862 he was no longer living there. He was married and working as a Wheelwright at Barley, Hertfordshire. The profile of a working man doesn’t match that of someone who would be running away from the Bassingbourn union, as I will explain.

That leaves George Casbon, the son of James and Elizabeth (Waller) Casbon, born at Meldreth 28 November 1846 and baptized there 16 March 1847, as the only remaining candidate.[1] George’s mother, Elizabeth, died of consumption in 1852.[2]

As to John Reed, I have found only one person by that name from Whaddon. He appears in the 1851 census as John Read, age 6.[3] His sister Susanna Read, age 21, is listed as head of household and a pauper. The father, William Reed, died in 1847.[4] Mary Reed, the mother, died in 1849.[5] Thus, the household we see in the 1851 census consists of their orphaned children, with John being the youngest.

George Casbon and John Reed both would have been about 16 years old when they ran away from the Bassingbourn union; but what was the Bassingbourn union?

Bassingbourn union was another name for the Royston Union Workhouse. Royston is a large town located at the northern border of Hertfordshire. In 1862, the border between Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire ran through the middle of Royston. The Royston Union Workhouse was located on the north, or Cambridgeshire side, of Baldock Road. The workhouse was located within Bassingbourn Parish in Cambridgeshire, hence the term Bassingbourn union.

Detail map showing locations of Meldreth, Whaddon, and Royston; adapted from Map of the County of Cambridge, from an Actual Survey made in the years 1832 & 1833 (London: Greenwood & Co., 1834); courtesy of David Rumsey Map Collection (https://www.davidrumsey.com/); image reproduction copyright © 2000 by Cartography Associates (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)
Detail from Ordnance Survey map, showing location of Royston Union Workhouse; Cambridgeshire LVIII.SW (Southampton: Ordnance Survey Office, 1886); Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland, Creative Commons License

Workhouses were institutions created to house and feed the poor and infirm. Each workhouse was administered by a poor law union consisting of several parishes. The Royston workhouse was built in 1836 and designed to accommodate 300 inmates.[6] In general, workhouses were segregated by sex and age: there were sections for the aged and infirm, children, able-bodied men, and able-bodied women.[7] Inmates were issued clothing, usually made from coarse materials.[8] Able-bodied inmates were expected to work, often at menial tasks; schooling and sometimes apprenticeships were provided to children.[9]

Why were the two boys in the workhouse? In the case of John Reed, we know that he was an orphan. With no means of financial support, the workhouse was probably his only option.

The situation with George Casbon is more complicated. We know that he lost his mother in 1852. His younger sister, Emma, died at the workhouse (my emphasis) in November 1853.[10] This suggests that after the death of George’s mother, either some or all of the children were sent to the workhouse.

My confusion is compounded by the fact that I haven’t been able to positively identify James Casbon or any of his children (except for daughter, Lydia, who was married) in the 1861 England census. I have speculated that James and his son Thomas were listed (in the 1861 census) in the village of Cottenham with the surname Randle. In addition, I think I’ve found James’s two youngest sons, George and John, at the Royston workhouse. The census uses initials for the inmates. Among these are the initials “C.G.” and “C.J.” (the first initial represents the surname), both from Meldreth.[11] Incidentally, the initials “R.J.,” which might stand for John Reed, from Whaddon, are also present on the same census page.

The final detail from the Cambridge Chronicle article is that the two boys were committed to the Castle for the offense of “running away from the Bassingbourn union with the clothes.” It’s unclear whether the offense was running away or taking the clothes, although I suspect it was the latter. I wish there was a little more detail. Which clothes did they take—their own or those belonging to other inmates? What did they intend to do with the clothes? Such is the way with family research—you never have all the answers.

What became of George and John? I’ll save most of George’s life for later posts but will say here that he eventually married and had a family of his own. He died at the village of Fowlmere, 18 October 1897.[12] He was 51 years old.

John Reed’s fate is unknown. I haven’t been able to identify him in any records after 1862.


[1] Meldreth (Cambridgeshire) Parish Records, baptisms [1813–1867], p. 63, no. 501; browsable images, FamilySearch ((https://familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : accessed 28 Apr 2017).
[2] England, General Register Office, death registration, Royston & Buntingford/Melbourn, 1852, vol. 3A/134, no. 117.
[3] 1851 England census, Whaddon (Cambridgeshire), enumeration district 11, p. 4, line 12; imaged at Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=8860 : accessed 24 Apr 2020) >Cambridgeshire >Whaddon >4 >image 5 of 23.
[4] “England, Cambridgeshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1599-1860,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1465708 : accessed 24 Apr 2020) >007681883 >image 704 of 733.
[5] “England, Cambridgeshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1599-1860,” accessed 24 Apr 2020 >007681883 > image 709 of 733.
[6] Peter Higginbotham,“Royston, Herfordshire,” in The Workhouse: The story of an institution … (http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Royston/ : accessed 24 Apr 2020).
[7] “Workhouse,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workhouse#1834_Act : accessed 24 Apr 2020), rev. 18 Mar 2020, 01:28.
[8] Higginbotham, “Workhouse Uniform,” in The Workhouse: The story of an institution … .
[9] Higginbotham, “Work” and “Children in the Workhouse,” in The Workhouse: The story of an institution … .
[10] England, General Register Office, death registration, Royston & Buntingford/Melbourn, 1853, vol. 3A/107, no. 319.
[11] 1861 England census, Bassingbourn (Cambridgeshire), enumeration district 5, p. 77 (stamped) verso (6th page of entries for Royston Union Workhouse), lines 4 & 5; Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=8767 : accessed 24 April 2020) >Cambridgeshire >Bassingbourn >District 5 >image 23 of 25; National Archives.
[12] “Deaths,” Saffron Walden (Essex) Weekly News, 22 Oct 1897, p. 8, col. 8; British Newspaper Archive (accessed 14 Sep 2017.

Aylesworth Connections

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)

The Aylesworth name is well-known to many of the Casbons who trace their roots through Porter County, Indiana. One reason for this is that Carrie Belle Aylesworth (1873–1958) was the wife of Amos Casbon (1869–1956). Their wedding took place on 28 November 1900 at the home of Carrie’s parents (see “Wedding Bells”) in Boone Township. This loving couple had six sons and three daughters, all but one of whom lived into adulthood and had families of their own. Many of their grandchildren are living today and remember them well.

Before Amos or Carrie were even born, there had been another Casbon-Aylesworth wedding in Porter County. That was the marriage of my second great-grandfather Sylvester Casbon to Mary “Adaline” Aylesworth on 30 October 1860. Sylvester and Adaline had two surviving children—Cora Ann and Lawrence—before Adaline’s untimely death in 1868.

Because of these two marriages, the descendants of Amos, Carrie, Sylvester, and Adaline  are connected through both their Casbon and Aylesworth ancestries.

But what are those connections? How are the two branches related? The answer is fairly straightforward on the Casbon side. Their common ancestor was Isaac Casbon (~1773–1825) of Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, England, the grandfather of both Amos and Sylvester Casbon. Amos and Sylvester were first cousins, despite the fact that their ages were 37 years apart. Because of the age difference, their descendants of similar ages are mostly cousins “once-removed,” meaning their relationship to the common ancestor—Isaac Casbon—is one generation apart.

The connection on the Aylesworth side is more complicated. Carrie Aylesworth’s great-grandfather, Philip Aylesworth (~1793–1866) was the older brother of Adaline Aylesworth’s father, Giles (1807–1880). Their common ancestor was John Aylesworth (~1764–1810). Carrie was two generations farther away from John than Adaline; therefore, they were first cousins, twice removed.

The concept of cousins once or twice removed can be confusing, so I’ve created a diagram showing the lines of descent of the branches of the Aylesworth family to which Carrie and Adaline belonged.

The diagram also demonstrates the places where the Aylesworth ancestors lived as they slowly migrated westward to Indiana. This is an interesting story in itself and will be the topic of the next post.

The Aylesworth genealogy has been well-documented. Many of today’s living descendants have a copy of the Aylesworth Family book, last published in 1984. This book traces the family back to Arthur (generation 1). Most of the information about the first seven generations comes from an earlier book, Arthur Aylesworth and His Descendants in America, written by Homer Elhanan Aylesworth and published in 1887.[1] A copy of this book has been scanned and can be viewed or downloaded at https://archive.org/details/arthuraylsworthh00ayls.

Because of the Casbon-Aylesworth connection, members of the Casbon family have always been invited to the Aylesworth family reunions, which still take place on a (mostly) annual basis.

Aylesworth family reunion ca. 1921; several Casbons are in the photo: Amos & Carrie and their children, Lawrence and Leslie Casbon; how many can you pick out? (Click on image to enlarge)

[1] (Providence, R.I.: Narragansett Historical Publishing Co., 1887).

James Casbal of Therfield

Much of today’s post is based on supposition. I will try to distinguish between firm conclusions and those based on weaker evidence.

Our story begins with a marriage that took place 23 November 1778 in the village of Therfield, Hertfordshire. James Casbal, a cordwainer (shoemaker) and bachelor, married Sarah Crouch, a spinster (unmarried woman).[1]

Excerpt from Therfield parish records, showing marriage of James Casbal and Sarah Crouch, 23 November 1778 (Click on image to enlarge)

The marriage record tells us that both James and Sarah were from the parish of Therfield. We can also see that both signed with their mark, an indication of some degree of illiteracy. Therfield is a small village in Hertfordshire, located about 2 ½ miles southwest of Royston, and more importantly, about 6 miles from Meldreth, Cambridgeshire. Meldreth is the ancestral home of many of the today’s Casbons, Casbans and Casbens.

Detail of a map of England showing southern Cambridgeshire (green), northern Hertfordshire (red, bottom center), and adjacent counties; the relative locations of Meldreth, Therfield, and Litlington are indicated; adapted from John Cary, “A new map of England, from the latest authorities” (London: John Cary, 1809); downloaded from David Rumsey Map Collection (davidrumsey.com); Creative Commons License

The marriage of James and Sarah is the first instance where “Casbal” or related surnames appear in Therfield records, so we can make a safe assumption that James was not born there. Casb—l was an early variant of the Casbon surname and appears in various parish records during the late 1700s. Members of the Crouch family had been living in Therfield for several generations.

James and Sarah had a daughter, Ann, who was baptized at Therfield 24 January 1780.[2] However, the birth apparently caused Sarah’s death, since her burial was recorded on
21 January.[3]

James was soon remarried, this time to Martha Crouch, on 13 August 1780.[4] Sarah and Martha were probably cousins. James and Martha had a daughter, Lydia, who was buried on 24 October 1782, just 10 days after her baptism.[5]

Lydia’s burial marks the last record of this family in Therfield. This suggests that the family might have moved to a different location.

I believe that location was Litlingon, Cambridgeshire. Litlington is another small village, located about 3 ½ miles north of Therfield and 4 ½ miles from Meldreth (see map, above). Litlington parish records reveal that James Causbell, a shoemaker, was buried there on 31 August 1804.[6]

Burial record of James Causbell; detail from Litlington parish registers, 1804 (Click on image to enlarge)

Although I can’t be certain, the fact that he was a shoemaker provides circumstantial evidence that James of Litlington was the same man who was married at Therfield in 1778. There just weren’t that many men with that surname or its variants and I have been able to account for most of the others.

Where did James come from? I believe he was the son of John (about 1721–1796) and Ann (Chamberlain) Casborn of Meldreth. We have met John before. Born in Orwell, he served his apprenticeship in Meldreth and presumably stayed there for the rest of his life. He was also appointed as the parish clerk in his later years. John is one of the earliest identified ancestors of many of today’s living Casbons (also Casbans and Casbens). John and Ann had two sons named James; the first died in infancy. The second was baptized at Meldreth
6 November 1748.[7]

Detail from Meldreth parish registers showing the baptism of James Casbull in 1748 (Click on image to enlarge)

It is notable that John Casborn was also a cordwainer. This is part of the reason I believe James of Therfield to be his son. The other reason is that I can find no other records—no burial or marriage record—of James in Meldreth. My theory is that James learned the shoemaking trade from his father and then moved to Therfield, where he was married and started a family. He moved to nearby Litlington some time before his death in 1804. Unfortunately, his age is not given in the burial record, so this cannot be used as another point of comparison.

There is one other piece of evidence that supports the theory. It is the record of baptism for James Causbell at Litlington 29 March 1819.[8]

Detail from Bishop’s Transcripts, Litlingon Parish, Cambridgeshire, 1819, showing the baptism of James Causbell 29 March 1819 (Click on image to enlarge)

The record tells us that James was the “baseborn [illegitimate] son” of Ann Causbell. The father’s name is not given, but other records suggest that his name was Thomas Taylor, a labourer. Remember that James of Therfield had a daughter named Ann from his first marriage. The fact that the child’s name was James is also significant. Traditionally a first son would be named after the father’s father and the second son would be named after the mother’s father. But this was not a hard and fast rule, and in the case of illegitimacy, using the mother’s father’s name would be understandable.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any other records relating to Ann or her son James, so their story ends in 1819. Nor have I been able to find any other records of James’s (of Therfield) second wife, Martha.

It’s a circumstantial case, but I think it’s reasonable to believe that the men named James Casbal/Causbell of Therfield and Litlington, and the child baptized as James Casbull at Meldreth in 1748 are the same person. If so, he would have been the brother of Thomas Casbon (about 1743–1799), my fifth great-grandfather.

[1] Hertfordshire, Therfield Parish, Register of Marriages, 1778, p. 27, no. 112; imaged as “Hertfordshire Banns & Marriages,” Findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/search-world-Records/hertfordshire-banns-and-marriages : accessed 15 Feb 2017).
[2] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1473014 : accessed 19 Mar 2020).
[3] Hertfordshire, Therfield Parish, general register, “Burials 1780”; imaged as “Hertfordshire Burials,” Findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/search-world-Records/hertfordshire-burials : accessed 15 Feb 2017).
[4] “England Marriages, 1538-1973,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1473015 : accessed 19 Mar 2020).
[5] Hertfordshire, Therfield Parish, general register, “Burials 1782”; imaged as “Hertfordshire Burials,” Findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/search-world-Records/hertfordshire-burials : accessed 15 Feb 2017).
[6] Cambridgeshire, Litlington, Bishop’s Transcripts, 1804; browsable images, “Bishop’s transcripts for Litlington, 1599-1864,” FamilySearch (catalog) (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007561135?cat=976865 : accessed 19 Mar 2020) >DGS Film no. 007561135 >image 186 of 460.
[7] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), General Register Volume P118/1/1 [1682–1782], n.p. (baptisms 1746-50), James Casbull, 6 Nov 1748; accessed as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : accessed 29 August 2017) >DGS film no. 007567609 >image 110 of 699.
[8] Cambridgeshire, Litlington, Bishop’s Transcripts, baptisms, 1819; browsable images, “Bishop’s transcripts for Litlington, 1599-1864,” FamilySearch (catalog) (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007561135?cat=976865 : accessed 19 Mar 2020) >DGS Film no. 007561135 >image 231 of 460.

Sunday School

This is my eighth post in the Guild of One-Name Studies blog challenge 2020.

Many genealogy researchers have learned that old books can be a valuable source of information about their ancestors. Many books that are no longer protected by copyright have been digitized and are available online. The three book sources that I use most often are Internet Archive, Hathi Trust Digital Library, and Google Books. You can go to any of these sites and type in a search term, such as a surname, and then get a list of books containing that search term. A regular Google search will also find these references, although they may be scattered throughout the search results.

A recent search turned up a source, titled The Sunday Schools of Lake: An Account of the Commencement and Growth of the Sunday Schools of Lake County, Indiana, from about 1840 to 1890.[1] The book was written to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Lake County Sunday-school Convention, an interdenominational annual meeting of many of the county’s churches, as well as “the 50th Anniversary of Sunday-school work in Lake County.”[2]

In addition to giving a detailed history of Sunday schools in the county, the book provides a listing of students enrolled in the Convention’s Sunday schools in 1890. A few Casbon names turned up in this list.

Detail from pages 161-2 of The Sunday Schools of Lake, showing students enrolled at the Deep River Union School in 1890; (note: “1888” next to the name of the school is the year the school was organized)
(Click on image to enlarge)

The three names on page 161, Charles, Lawrence and T. (Thomas) Casbon, are all known to me. They are the sons of my second great-grandfather, Sylvester Casbon. Sylvester had moved to Deep River from Porter County in about 1865. Lawrence was born in 1865 to Sylvester’s first wife, Mary Adaline (Aylesworth), who died in 1868. Thomas and Charles were born in 1870 and 1872, respectively, to Sylvester’s second wife, Emilene Harriet (Perry), who died in 1874. In 1890, Lawrence, Thomas, and Charles would have been about 25, 20, and 18 years old, respectively. All three were still unmarried.

I must admit that I am completely baffled by the name on page 162—Stella Casbon. There is no other record of a child with that name. She does not appear in vital records, census reports, family histories, newspaper articles, or photographs. The fact that she was enrolled in the Boys’ and Girls’ class tells us that she would have been younger than the three Casbon sons. But there are no records of a younger daughter being born to Sylvester. Nor was a child of that name born to any of Sylvester’s siblings. There is no record that Sylvester’s third wife, Mary (Mereness) had any children. There were no other Casbon families living in Lake County at the time. So, who was Stella? I just don’t know.

The fact that the Casbon name appears in this book led me to reflect upon the religious beliefs and practices of the early Indiana Casbons. I’ll say at the outset that there is insufficient information to draw any firm conclusions. The Indiana Casbons are all descended from Isaac Casbon of Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, England, who lived from about 1773 to 1825. The baptisms, marriages, and burials of Isaac’s family were recorded in the parish registers (i.e., Church of England) of Meldreth and nearby parishes. Since this was the near universal practice of the time, it tells us nothing about the family’s religious beliefs or practices. The baptisms of two of Isaac’s children, Joseph and James, were not recorded, which suggests that the sacrament was not a high priority. As a poor agricultural laborer, Isaac was at the lower end of the social order. Putting bread on the table was probably a higher priority than religious practices.

Of Isaac’s son Thomas, my third great-grandfather, nothing is written about his religious beliefs. The few biographical references I have seen do not mention religion. If he is mentioned in church records in the U.S., I am not aware of them.

However, I do have a little information about Thomas’s sons. An 1882 biographical sketch of Sylvester Casbon, the father of the three sons mentioned above, states that “he is liberal in politics, attends church, and is much esteemed by his neighbors.”[3] The 1912 History of Porter County Indiana includes sketches about Sylvester and his brother Charles. Of Sylvester, the book says “he and his wife are members and liberal supporters of the Christian church [of Valparaiso, Indiana], with Rev. Hill as their pastor.”[4] Charles and his wife, Mary (Marrell) were also said to be liberal supporters of the same church.[5] Sylvester’s obituary also mentions his membership in the Christian church.[6] The fact that Sylvester and his brother were members of this church tells us that they considered themselves to be Christians, like the majority of Americans at the time. However, it tells us nothing about how important their Christian beliefs were to them.

The Christian church referred to above is now known as First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and was founded at Valparaiso, Indiana, in 1837.[7] A modern source describes the denomination in these terms: “the Disciples of Christ, also known as the Christian Church, has no creed and gives its congregations complete autonomy in their doctrine. As a result, beliefs vary widely from individual church to church, and even among members of a church.”[8] Thus, it is hard to tell exactly what the members of The Christian Church in Valparaiso believed.

First Christian Church, Valparaiso, Indiana, 1950 (https://www.fccvalpo.org/our-building-over-time)

Going back to the Sunday school roster of 1890, The Sunday Schools of Lake tells us that the Deep River Union School was organized “in August, 1888, by the evangelist ‘Christian’ minister of this district, Rev. Ellis B. Cross.”[9] I haven’t been able to find out anything more about the school or its founder. Were the three Casbon sons there because of their Christian beliefs or was it more of an acceptable social outlet—something young men in Deep River were expected to do (especially since there was also a young ladies’ class!)?  How was their Sunday school experience reflected in their later lives?

I was always under the impression from conversations with my father that his family in Indiana wasn’t very religious. His grandfather was Lawrence Casbon—the one listed on the Sunday school roster above. Lawrence’s obituary mentions his membership in the local Masonic Lodge but says nothing about church membership.[10] Likewise, the obituaries of his three sons, Leslie, Loring, and Lynnet, mention their memberships in the Masons, Scottish Rite, American Legion, and similar organizations, but say nothing about church membership. Perhaps these social organizations became their surrogates for participation in an organized church. [Update: see comment from Dave Casbon, below.]

Of Lawrence’s two brothers, Thomas’s obituary describes him as a member of the same Christian church as his father.[11] Charles’s obituary says that he belonged to the Elks lodge but does not mention a church affiliation.[12]

As I said earlier, there isn’t enough information to draw firm conclusions. The Indiana Casbons described above were all respected members of their communities. They fit in with the norms and expectations of their fellow citizens. Church membership and Sunday school attendance was probably one of those expectations in the late 1800s.

I will be eager to hear from any of their descendants whether they have different recollections or opinions.

[1] T.H. Ball (Crown Point, Indiana: T.H. Ball, 1891); Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=g5A_1QM4wVAC : accessed 21 Jan 2020)
[2] The Sunday Schools of Lake, p. 5.
[3] Weston A. Goodspeed, Charles Blanchard, Counties of Porter and Lake Indiana: Historical and Biographical, Illustrated (Chicago: F.A. Battey & Co., 1882), p. 707; Hathi Trust Digital Library.
[4] History of Porter County Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co., 1912), p. 484; Hathi Trust Digital Library.
[5] History of Porter County Indiana, p. 461.
[6] “Death Calls S.V. Casbon; Reached 90,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, 10 Dec 1927, p. 1, col. 1; Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries).
[7] “Our Story,” First Christian Church (https://www.fccvalpo.org/our-story).
[8] Jack Zavada, “Disciples of Christ Beliefs and Practices,” Learn Religions (https://www.learnreligions.com/disciples-of-christ-beliefs-and-practices-700019).
[9] The Sunday Schools of Lake, p. 86.
[10] “85-Year-Old Resident of County Dies.” The Vidette-Messenger, 16 Jun 1950, p. 1, col. 5; Newspaper Archive.
[11] “Deaths … Thomas S. Casbon,” The Vidette-Messenger, 16 Mar 1955, p. 6, col. 3; Newspaper Archive.
[12] “Death Takes C.P. Casbon,” The Vidette-Messenger, 1 Feb 1949, p. 1, col. 1; Newspaper Archive.

Musings on John, Continued

In the last post, I hope I made a convincing argument that John, baptized Casborn in Orwell, 1721, is the direct ancestor of myself and many of today’s Casbons, Casbans and Casbens.

However, I pointed out one inconsistency in the records. John was trained as a cordwainer, or shoemaker. However, the man who was buried in 1796 was recorded as parish clerk. The essential question is, “could he have been both a cordwainer and a parish clerk?”

I’ll start by exploring the meaning of the word clerk and the historical background of parish clerks in England. When I first saw the term parish clerk, I saw it with my twenty-first century eyes, and assumed it referred to someone who was literate and kept various church records. However, the meaning of the word clerk has changed considerably over time, as have the duties and qualifications of parish clerks.

Clerk derives from the Latin clericus, which means priest, clergyman, cleric, or scholar.[1] The English word clerk has had different meanings over time. Originally, it referred to “any one who took part in the services of the Church, whether he was in major or minor orders.”[2] Over time, the meaning of clerk changed to refer to anyone who could read or write, then later to “an assistant in public or private business,” and eventually to “a retail salesman” and “an employee who registers guests in a hotel.”[3]

Likewise, the meaning of the term parish clerk has changed over time. In early times, parish clerks “were formerly clerks in orders, and their business at first was to officiate at the altar.”[4] The clerk’s main duties were to “to be able to sing; to read the epistle; and to teach.”[5]

Embellished letter ‘E’ from an illuminated manuscript: priest giving communion to a sick man in bed, described in Ditchfield, The Parish Clerk, as “The Clerk Accompanying the Priest when Visiting the Sick.”[6] The British Library (https://www.bl.uk).(Click on image to enlarge)

After the Commonwealth period in English history (1649–1660), the rank and status of parish clerks was diminished.[7] “Now they are laymen, and have certain fees with the parson, on christnings [sic], marriages, burials, etc. besides wages for their maintenance.”[8] Qualifications for the position included the following: “the said Clerk shall be of Twenty Years of Age at the least, and known … to be of honest Conversation, and Sufficient for his Reading, Writing, and also his competent Skill in Singing,” although the requirement for singing seems to have been optional.[9] Parish clerks were generally nominated by the minister, and appointed for life.[10]

Besides serving as an assistant to the minister, the clerk had a multitude of other duties.

He attended practically every service, keeping dogs out and people awake and collecting pew rents and customary fees. He wrote the accounts if the wardens and overseers were illiterate, made out fair copies of the lists of church rates, assisted officers in their collection, and was capable of dealing with intransigent Independents and Quakers, perhaps assisted in a town by a beadle. He collected tolls on sheep pastured in the churchyard (too sour for cattle), on those who hung their washing there and from those who set up stalls along the path on market days.[11]

“The Sleeping Congregation,” 1728, William Hogarth; courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (https://collections.artsmia.org/art/10451/the-sleeping-congregation-william-hogarth); Public Domain.
(Click on image to enlarge)

In small parishes (such as Meldreth), the clerk might also carry out the duties of sexton. “He was responsible for the care of the churchyard as well as the inside of the church. He looked after the vestments and the vessels, rang the bells, opened and closed the church doors and dug the graves.”[12]

How does all this apply to John, the parish clerk of Meldreth? It suggests to me that he was probably a man held in esteem by the local vicar or curate, and probably by other members of the community. He was probably literate to a certain degree. Since Meldreth was a small parish, he probably performed many of the sexton’s duties as well as those of clerk. He would have been paid for his duties, though possibly not enough for a living.

This brings me back to the original question of whether John could have been both a cordwainer and parish clerk. There is nothing in the description of a parish clerk’s duties that tells me that the position would be incompatible with other occupations. Many of the responsibilities were carried out on days of worship, and it seems like the remaining duties could generally be done on a part-time basis.

Furthermore, there is strong evidence supporting the idea that parish clerks might have other occupations. The author of The Parish Clerk’s Guide (1731), when referring to “the poorer sort of Country-Clerks,” writes that “their In-come is so very small, generally speaking, that they are forc’d to employ their Time for Bread, rather than to have leisure to qualify themselves for the Business of a Parish-Clerk.”[13] I believe this means that many parish clerks needed to work at other occupations in order to supplement their meager wages.

An example is given in The Parish Clerk (1841), in which the English novelist Joseph Hewlett describes his protagonist, Davy Diggs, as

a shrewd, clever, uneducated, or rather half-a-quarter educated fellow, who combined in his own person the trades and occupations of parish clerk and sexton—parish Sunday-school master—parish tailor—and, what suited him best, parish gamekeeper and parish fiddler[14]

Clearly, the parish clerk could wear many hats!

I chanced upon further confirmation when I was looking through the Orwell parish registers. The burial of “John Lawrence Labourer and Church Clerk (my emphasis)” was recorded in 1755.[15]

Based on these examples, I think there can be no doubt that John, the cordwainer, could have also been the parish clerk.

John wasn’t appointed as the clerk until relatively late in life. I learned this when I found the burial record for his predecessor in the Meldreth parish register. “John Green, Clerk of the Parish” was buried on January 29, 1782.[16] If our John was appointed as parish clerk in that year, he would have been about sixty-one years old. By that time, it’s possible that his work of making shoes was occupying less of his time (or generating less income), or that it had been turned over to his former apprentice. The additional wages as clerk would have been a welcome supplement.

I’ll close with a famous painting, “The Parish Clerk.” It depicts Edward Orpin, parish clerk of Bradford-upon-Avon. Like our John, he was a tradesman, having been a cooper before assuming the duties of clerk.[17] He appears to be a man of devotion and some prominence. I would like to imagine that John shared these attributes, even if he was of humbler means.

“The Parish Clerk,” c.1760–70, formerly attributed to Thomas Gainsborough (1727–88); photo © Tate, Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported), (https://www.tate.org.uk)
(Click on image to enlarge)

[1] “clericus (Latin),” WordSense.eu Dictionary (https://www.wordsense.eu/clericus/ : accessed 28 December 2018).
[2] Peter Hampson Ditchfield, The Parish Clerk (London: Methuen & Co., 1907), p. 16; online image, Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011590202 : accessed 18 December 2018).
[3] “clerk (n.),” Online Etymology Dictionary (https://www.etymonline.com/word/clerk : accessed 28 December 2018).
[4] Giles Jacob, compiler, updated by Owen Ruffhead & J. Morgan, A New Law Dictionary: Containing the Interpretation and Definition of Words and Terms Used in the Law, 9th ed. (London: W. Strahan & M. Woodfall, 1772), n.p. “PAR” section, entry for “Parish Clerk,” imaged on Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.93143 : accessed 21 December 2018).
[5] J. Wickham Legg, ed., The Clerk’s Book of 1549 (London, n.p., 1903), p. xviii; online image, Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001653725 : accessed 18 December 2018).
[6] James le Palmer,”Omne Bonum (Ebrietas-Humanus),” c. 1360- c. 1375, manuscript, Royal 6 E VII, f. 70; online image, The British Library (https://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/welcome.htm : accessed 28 December 2018).
[7] Ditchfield, The Parish Clerk, pp. 61-2.
[8] Jacob, , A New Law Dictionary, entry for “Parish Clerk.”
[9] B.P., Parish Clerk, The Parish Clerk’s Guide: or, the Singing Psalms used in the Parish Churches Suited to the Feasts and Fasts of the Church of England and most other Special Occasions (London: reprinted by John March for the Company of Parish Clerks, 1731), pp. 20-1; online image, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=lBplAAAAcAAJ : accessed 28 December 2018).
[10] Jacob, , A New Law Dictionary, entry for “Parish Clerk.”
[11] “Parish Administration in England and Wales,” FamilySearch Wiki (https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Parish_Administration_in_England_and_Wales : accessed 20 December 2018), rev. 3 Feb 16, 05:11.
[12] “Georgette,” “Church related professions,” Family Tree Forum (http://ftfmagazine.lewcock.net/index.php/volume-one-new/july-2008/413-church-related-professions : accessed 20 December 2018).
[13] B.P., The Parish Clerk’s Guide, p. 3.
[14] Joseph Hewlett, The Parish Clerk, Theodore Hook, editor (London: Henry Coburn, 1841), vol. 1, p. 23; online image, Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000483146 : accessed 28 December 2018).
[15] Church of England, Orwell (Cambridgeshire) Parish, General Register, 1653–1805, burials 1755; digitized as “Parish registers for Orwell, 1560-1877,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007567608?cat=210878 : accessed 26 December 2018), image 326 of 695; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,543, item 9.
[16] Church of England, Meldreth (Cambridgeshire), General Register, 1682–1782, burials 1782, John Green, 29 Jan; accessed as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : accessed 18 December 2018), image 66 of 699; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 2.
[17] “‘The Parish Clerk’ (Edward Orpin, Parish Clerk of Bradford-upon-Avon),” Tate [museum] (https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/gainsborough-the-parish-clerk-edward-orpin-parish-clerk-of-bradford-upon-avon-n00760 : accessed 28 December 2018).