A Minor Mystery Solved

A more appropriate title for this post might have been “The Many Wives of James Casbon.” However, I’ll stick with the current title because it was finding the answer to the “minor mystery” that prompted me to write the post.

This is a cautionary tale. The caution is that one should be very careful about trusting “facts” that are listed in online family trees unless the evidence supporting those facts is documented and credible. In this case, the facts in question are the identities of the women who were married to James Casbon (~1813–1884).

When I did a search on Ancestry for James, listing his parents as Isaac and Susannah (Howes) Casbon, I found that he was included in 66 family trees. Six different women were named as his wives in these trees. Some trees only listed one of them while others listed up to five. A few of the trees simply said “unknown spouse”—a safe and reasonable approach. Several of the trees were private, meaning the names of James’s wives could not be viewed. Here are the names of the women, in order of frequency, in those trees I was able to view.

Elizabeth Waller             26 trees
Mary Cooper                   17 trees
Mary Payne                       7 trees
Mary Harper                     5 trees
Mary Jackson                    5 trees
Ann Mitch                         5 trees

How many of these women did James actually marry and which ones? I can say with confidence that only three marriages have been documented. I have copies or extracts of the marriage records of James to Elizabeth Waller in 1835,[1] Mary Jackson in 1866,[2] and Mary Payne in 1876.[3] There is no evidence that James married Mary Cooper, Mary Harper, or Ann Mitch. In the family trees where they are listed, no sources are provided other than other family trees. One could posit that James married another woman in the interval between Elizabeth’s death in 1852 and his marriage to Mary Jackson in 1866, but there are no records to support this (and no children born during this time listing James as the father).

Census and birth/baptism records show that all of James’s children were born to either Elizabeth Waller or Mary Jackson. (Alice Casbon’s birth in 1871 is not registered but given that it occurred just one month after the arrival of James and Mary in America, there is no reason to believe that anyone besides Mary Jackson was her mother.)

The marriage of record of James Casbon to Elizabeth Waller at Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, 25 July 1835; Meldreth parish records (Click on image to enlarge)
The marriage record of James Casbon and Mary Payne, Porter County, Indiana, 15 January 1876; Porter County Public Library (Click on image to enlarge)

So how did these other women come to be listed as James’s wives? There are several possible reasons. In the case of Ann Mitch, it is a matter of mistaken identity. There were two men named James Casbon in the early 1800s, both born in Meldreth, Cambridgeshire. One was born 7 September 1806.[4] He was the first cousin of the James of this post. The elder James married Ann Hitch (whose name has been incorrectly transcribed as Mitch in both Ancestry and FamilySearch) at Steeple Morden, Cambridgeshire on 15 December
1827.[5] Ann died in 1833 after bearing James one child (Alfred Hitch Casbon). It can be easy to make mistakes in family trees when two people have the same name. Although the younger James would have been only about 14 years old when the marriage to Ann Hitch occurred, some family historians have gotten around this discrepancy by assuming that there was only one man named James. However, this is not supported by later census records.

The case of Mary Cooper is harder to explain. James’s older brother William married a woman named Mary Cooper in 1829.[6] My best guess is that the name of William’s wife was incorrectly attached to James in a family tree and the incorrect information was passed on to others.

That brings me to Mary Harper. Where did the name come from? This was the minor mystery I learned the answer to this week.

I was updating some of my documentation and came upon the marriage license application of James’s and Mary (Jackson’s) daughter Alice Hannah Casbon to her second husband, Charles Hicks. Alice and Charles applied for the license at Starke County, Indiana on 4 March 1936 and were married the same day.[7] The application requests the names of the bride and groom’s parents. Alice wrote “Mary Harper” as her mother’s maiden name.

The marriage license application of Alice (Casbon) Edwards to Charles Hicks, 4 March 1936, Starke County, Indiana; FamilySearch (Click on image to enlarge)

This naturally raises the question: Wouldn’t Alice know her own mother’s name? In fact, there is good reason for her not to. Her mother died before Alice was 5 years old, and probably much earlier than that. (The date of Mary (Jackson’s) death is not recorded). Her father, James, died when Alice was 13. Mary Payne, her stepmother, might not have known the correct maiden name. Alice might have been told incorrectly that her mother’s surname was Harper or she might have misremembered what she was told.

At any rate, it appears that Alice herself was the source of the misinformation that was included later in family trees.

As I said earlier, one must be very careful about accepting genealogical “facts” at face value. Once incorrect information is made available in an online family tree, others might copy it to their own tree and it takes on a life of its own. A useful rule of thumb is to carefully review the source attributed to any “fact” in an online tree. If there are no sources attached or the only source is another family tree, one should not accept the fact as proven unless more reliable sources can be found.

Unfortunately, I must confess that I am one of the guilty parties here. I saw the names of Mary Cooper and Mary Harper in family trees many years ago and included them in my own tree. I even included them as possible wives in my first blog post about James in 2016. When I posted my tree to Ancestry I was still a relative beginner at genealogy and did not yet understand the need for careful source documentation or how easily misinformation could be spread. I kept the names in my tree for much longer than I should have after realizing that I had no evidence to support them. It’s likely that others copied the information from my tree and perpetuated the misinformation. I am much more diligent now.


[1] Cambridgeshire, England, Meldreth Parish, Register of marriages (1813–1867), p. 34, no. 100, 25 Jul 1835; accessed as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : accessed 29 August 2017), image 363 of 699; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 8.
[2] “Stretham Marriages 1558 – 1952,” PDF extract, Cambridge Family History Society (https://www.cfhs.org.uk/tokens/tokpub.cfm : downloaded 2 September 2017), >Casben >Stretham >Stretham Marriages 1558 – 1952, 3 Nov 1866; citing Stretham (Cambridgeshire) parish records.
[3] Indiana, Porter County, Marriage Record, vol. 4 [Sep 1871-Jan 1875], p. 348, 8 Jan 1876; browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/005014495?cat=608739 : accessed 8 Apr 2020) > Film # 005014494 >image 693 of 928.
[4] Cambridgeshire, England, Meldreth Parish, Register of baptisms (1806–1812), baptisms 1807; accessed as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : accessed 28 April 2017), image 137; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 3.
[5] “England Marriages, 1538–1973 ,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N2QC-7QV : accessed 19 October 2015), James Casbon and Ann Mitch, 15 Dec 1827; citing FHL microfilm 990,377.
[6] Cambridgeshire, England Melbourne Parish, Bishop’s transcripts for Melbourne, 1599-1847, (marriages beginning 1814) unnumbered page, no. 160, Wm Casbon & Mary Cooper, 14 Mar 1829; browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007672882?cat=1109075 : accessed 12 Jul 2016) >image 529 of 682; citing FHL microfilm 2,358,010, item 2.
[7] Indiana, Starke County, marriage records, v. 10 (June 1934-January 1937), pp. 392–3, marriage license application; imaged in ” Marriage records, 1850-1957″, browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007742312?cat=574765 : accessed 27 Mar 19) > image 392 of 716; citing FHL film 2447544, item 3.

The Appeal

I often don’t know what I’m going to write about next. Such was the case when I finished last week’s post. I keep a spreadsheet of potential topics but don’t follow it in any particular order. Today’s post came from a totally unexpected direction. Someone had posted a link on Facebook to a search page on the United Kingdom’s National Archives website.  I have visited this website many times in the past with occasional success.

(The following several paragraphs are for my fellow genealogy enthusiasts. Casual readers may wish to skip ahead to the paragraph before the image!)

This time I idly typed “Casbon” and hit “Search.” Twenty-two records popped up. I had seen many of these before. Most of them require a personal visit to a library or archive to see the record, but a few can be viewed online. One of those, in particular, caught my eye: a record titled “Prisoner name(s): Casbon [first name not stated]. Court and date of trial: 1821. Crime:…”[1] This record is contained in a series of records created or inherited by the Home Office, Ministry of Home Security, and related bodies and contains “original petitions made by convicted persons or their friends, relations etc., seeking the revocation or reduction of their sentences.”[2]

The description of the Casbon record indicated that the convict had been tried in 1821 and was a prisoner on the Hulk Leviathan. The petitioner was one P. Leyburn of Meldreth, Cambridgeshire.[3] This immediately got my attention. It seemed to refer to the case of Thomas Casbon, or Casborn, who had been convicted of stealing a silver watch and sentenced to seven years’ transportation. I wrote about this last October, suggesting that the convict was probably my third great-grandfather. Maybe this new record would be the proof I was looking for!

The National Archives description also said that the record is available for download from Findmypast. That is where I had found the records about Thomas Casborn, the subject of the earlier post. I was surprised because I thought I had seen all the pertinent records on Findmypast. I don’t have a paid subscription to Findmypast, but free access is available at my local Family History Center (FHC), AKA the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The FHC near me has excellent facilities, with about a dozen computer terminals, and access to many subscription websites.

I popped into the FHC and opened the Findmypast website. My initial search didn’t turn up anything new, so I decided to look at the website’s card catalog. All the previous records concerning Thomas Casborn had been in a collection titled “England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770–1935.” When I looked in the card catalog I discovered another database called “England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment Browse, 1770–1935.” The titles are the same except for the word “Browse” in the second database. They are clearly different collections because the former contains 5,762,300 records and the latter has 1,823,668 records.

The word “Browse” told me that the collection was not indexed, i.e., you can’t find individual records through the search page. You have to literally browse through all the images to find one you are looking for. I didn’t fancy browsing through 1,823,668 records to find a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, the National Archives catalog contained more information to help me narrow things down. The record I was looking for is contained in record series HO17, piece 92. After some experimentation, I found that I could narrow my search using those identifiers. This narrowed the number of records down to 1,049.

Once I started browsing,  I learned that the individual petitions were organized into “bundles,” each with an alphanumeric reference. The Casbon record I was looking for had the reference “Rk4.” After a bit of trial and error, I found what I was looking for.

The record consists of only two pages, probably front and back of the same page.[4] One side was addressed like an envelope “To Mr. Capper @ the Secretary of States office for the Home Department, London.” The other side contained the body of the letter.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Here is my transcription:

                                                                              Meldreth: Decr. 21st 1824
Mr Capper
+++++++++++Sirs

                        of the Name of Casbon
          There is a Family ^ in this Village poor but much respected for their honesty who are much distressd in Consequence of their Son who is at Pres[en]t. on Board the Leviathan Hulk off Portsmouth on board of which vessel he has been confind for the last Three years. Previously to the unfortunate Circumstance which led to his Conviction he was never detected with having acted contrary to the Rules of honesty and it is believed had he not been induced thro illegal advisers his natural Disposition would have been adverse to any Criminal Transaction. It is the desire of the Inhabitants in general that he should be reprieved the residue of his sentence should his character be found such since his confinement as may merit Interception. Should such be be case. it is believed his Lordship the Earl of Hardewicke may interest himself in the Matter and gain his Freedom
+++++Would you Sir have the goodness so far as to certify his character by enclosing a Certificate of the same it will be considered as a particular obligation and will be received with gratitude by the relatives of the Convict
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++With respect
address to                                                                    I remain Sirs
P. Leyburn  Meldreth  [?] Roy[s]ton        Yr. obt. Servt
+++++Cambridgeshire                                                         P. Leyburn

Although the first name is not given in the letter, we are told that the prisoner has been on the Leviathan for three years and his surname is Casbon. Thomas Casborn was convicted in October 1822, so the “three years” referred to in the letter isn’t quite correct. I think the author of the letter, Mr. Leyburn, was getting his information second-hand and wasn’t personally familiar with the case.

The reference to the Leviathan is quite specific. My review of the Leviathan’s records did not reveal anyone else with a similar surname who was convicted in that time frame. So it’s very unlikely that Mr. Leyburn was referring to anyone other than Thomas Casbon.

In the earlier post, I reported that Thomas Casborn was “late of the parish of Melbourn.”[5] The letter indicates that the prisoner’s family lives in Meldreth. Melbourn and Meldreth are adjacent villages, and my Casbon ancestors are associated with both locations, so I consider this discrepancy to be inconsequential. There was only one family “of the name of Casbon” in Meldreth or Melbourn with a son named Thomas at that time, and that was the family of Isaac and Susanna (Howes) Casbon, my fourth great-grandparents.

When looked at as a whole, the facts given in the letter answer the question posed in my previous post: was Thomas Casborn, the prisoner aboard the Leviathan, my third great-grandfather? The answer is a resounding “yes.”

The letter does not give any details of the crime, referring to it only as “the Circumstance which led to his Conviction.” If the letter is to be believed, the crime was a first-time offense, and out of character for the prisoner. It suggests that he gave in to the influence of unnamed “illegal advisers” when he committed the offense.

It seems that Mr. Leyburn is writing, not just on behalf of the Casbon family, but for the “Inhabitants [of Meldreth] in general.” I’m not even sure he has met the Casbon family but instead may have been approached by someone on their behalf to write this letter.

Mr. Leyburn is asking the recipient of the letter to vouch for the prisoner’s behavior “since [the time of] his confinement” in the hope that a higher authority, “his Lordship the Earl of Hardewicke,” might then intervene on the prisoner’s behalf.

This last reference is to Philip Yorke, the third Earl of Hardwicke (1757–1834), who had a residence at Wimpole Hall, about three and one-half miles from Meldreth. He was the son of Charles Yorke, the former Lord Chancellor of England.[6] He must have been incredibly wealthy because Wimpole Hall is the largest house in Cambridgeshire.[7] It is now owned by the National Trust and open to the public.

Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire. Photo from ArtUK.org

We don’t know if Mr. Leyburn’s appeal ever received a reply or if the Earl of Hardwicke intervened on Thomas’s behalf.  We do know that Thomas served the entire seven years aboard the Leviathan, so clemency obviously was not granted.

I would still like to see if any more records are out there giving more details about the crime and the trial, but I’m pretty sure I’ve exhausted all the records available online. Any other records will require a visit to various archives in England – something I hope to accomplish one of these days.

[1] “Catalogue Description – Prisoner name(s): Casbon [first name not stated]. Court and date of trial: 1821. Crime:…,” The National Archives (http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14544423 : accessed 5 March 2019).
[2] “Catalogue Description – Home Office: Criminal Petitions, Series I,” The National Archives (http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C8881 : accessed 5 March 2019).
[3] “Catalogue Description – Prisoner name(s): Casbon [first name not stated]. Court and date of trial: 1821. Crime:…,” previously cited.
[4] Petition for clemency for prisoner Casbon [first name not stated], P. Leyton to Mr. Capper, 21 Dec 1824; image, “England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment Browse, 1770-1935,” Findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/search-world-Records/england-and-wales-crime-prisons-and-punishment-browse-1770-1935 : accessed 5 March 2019) >image 214 of 1049; citing The National Archives [UK], HO17/92/55.
[5] Alan Akeroyd (cambs.archives@cambridgeshire.gov.uk), to Jon Casbon, email, 4 Oct 2018, “Cambs quarter sessions, October 1822”; privately held by Casbon [(e-address for private use)].
[6] “Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Yorke,_3rd_Earl_of_Hardwicke : accessed 7 March 2019), rev. 20 Jan 19, 07:42.
[7] “Wimpole Estate,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wimpole_Estate : accessed 7 March 2019), rev. 20 Nov 18, 12:17.

A Christmas Baptism

This is a short post, just to celebrate the season. Here is the barely legible baptism record of my third great-grandfather, Thomas Casbon (1803–1888).

Detail from Parish Register, Meldreth, Cambridgeshire: Baptisms, 1802.[1]
The register is written on parchment. In this case, in addition to smudges, the ink has degraded or flaked off. Here’s what the entry says:

[Born] Novr. 3d. Thomas, son of Isaac & Susanna Casbon, [Baptized] Decr. 25.

This is the only Casbon baptism I have found that occurs on Christmas Day. Was Thomas baptized on Christmas Day because it was a special day, or was it simply a matter of convenience? I’ve tried to find out whether Christmas baptisms were considered special in England in the early 19th century, but haven’t found any evidence to support this. I have found discussions suggesting that fees were not charged for baptisms and marriages held on Christmas and Easter, but no sources are provided. Another suggestion is that church attendance in England was required at least twice a year (possibly Christmas and Easter),[2] so these days were more likely to see increased numbers of marriages and baptisms for those who only attended on those days.

Were any of your ancestors baptized on Christmas Day?

To all my readers, I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

[1]Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire), Parish Registers, 1783–1812, unnumbered page, baptisms 1802–6, Thomas Casbon, 25 Dec 1802; accessed as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/sea1040542rch/film/007567609?cat=210742 : accessed 22 December 2018), image 136 of 699; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 3.
[2]“Church Attendance,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_attendance : accessed 22 December 2018), rev. 21 Oct 18, 16:58.

Joseph Casbon, Death Registration, 1847

Before getting to today’s topics, I have a couple of brief announcements. First, I’m happy to say that an article I wrote titled, “Thomas Casbon, James Scruby, and the Meldreth-Wayne County, Ohio Connection” has been published on the Meldreth History website. You can read the article here. Much of the information in this article has been presented in earlier blog posts, but the emphasis in the article is different, and there is some new information as well. I hope you will take a look.

Also, a previous article, “‛The Old Cow Got Round It’,” was also selected as the current Editor’s Choice on the Meldreth History site. The article in the website is nearly identical to an earlier blog post.

Finally, the blog will be on vacation for a while, as I will be doing a bit of traveling.


Now to today’s post. Joseph Casbon was the third son of Isaac (~1773–1825) and Susanna (Howes, ~1776–1840) Casbon. I have written previously about Joseph and his wife Lydia (Burgess). At that time, I only had three records or documents that mentioned Joseph by name. The first was a handwritten Casbon family history from about 1890 that mentioned Joseph as the son of Isaac (and gave the incorrect name for his mother) and the brother of Thomas, Williams and James.[1]

“Isaac Casbon Married Jayne Miller of Meldreth, Near Royston Cambridge shire Englan both were raised and born in this place There were born to them Thomas William Joseph, one dead he left no heirs James” (Click on image to enlarge)

The other two records were Joseph’s marriage and burial records. There is no record of his birth or baptism, so we could only estimate his birth year as 1810 or 1811 based on the age (36) given when he was buried in 1847.[2] Now we have one more record to add to Joseph’s file: a copy of his civil death registration, which I recently ordered from the England and Wales General Register Office.[3]

(Click on image to enlarge)

The most important new details in this record are the exact date and location of death, his age, occupation, and cause of death. We can see that he died on March 3, 1847 in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. Melbourn is the village just east of Meldreth, where Joseph was probably born and raised. His stated age of 35 would give him a birth date sometime between March 4, 1811 and March 3, 1812. Since his burial record listed his age as 36, we need to extend the beginning of this range to 1810. His occupation was “Labourer.” Given his family background, it would have been unlikely to be anything else.

Two conditions are listed under Cause of Death: “Catarrh 4 months” and “Pulmonary Consumption” (the word under this is “Certified,” which probably means a doctor certified his death). Neither of these terms are commonly used today. Catarrh in its simplest sense means “a discharge from a mucus membrane.”[4] In America, the term was generally restricted to inflammation of the membranes of the air passages.[5] In England, catarrh referred more specifically to inflammation of the trachea and bronchi (what we would call bronchitis).[6] An 1856 medical dictionary has this to say of the English version:

It is commonly an affection of but little consequence, but apt to relapse and become chronic. It is characterized by cough, thirst, lassitude, fever, watery eyes, with increased secretion of mucus from the air-passages. … Sometimes, the inflammation of the bronchial tubes is so great as to prove fatal.[7]

Consumption, in the generic sense, meant “progressive emaciation or wasting away,” but the term was most often applied to pulmonary tuberculosis, as in Joseph’s case.[8] In the early 19th century, the cause of tuberculosis was unknown, and many believed it to be hereditary or caused by constitutional weakness.[9] It wasn’t until 1865 that tuberculosis was determined to be infectious, and not until 1882 that the causative bacillus was identified.[10] There were no effective treatments until the twentieth century.

To summarize the cause of death for Joseph, he had pulmonary tuberculosis, a chronic wasting infection. In his final months, he developed catarrh; probably an accelerated phase of his underlying condition, with increased cough and mucus production.

In my earlier post about Joseph and his family, I mentioned that five of the six family members died within a five-year period, and speculated that tuberculosis was the likely cause.[11] This is certainly supported by Joseph’s death record. It’s likely that the infection was spread among the family members, all living in close quarters.

I was curious about the informant for the facts of the death record, a woman named Sarah Worland. She was most likely Sarah Worland, born about 1788 in Meldreth, who lived within one or two houses of Lydia (and Joseph?) Casbon.

I have never been able to find Joseph in the 1841 census, the first census to list names of household members. I have no idea why he doesn’t appear in the census, but clearly he was living in Melbourn when he died in 1847.

[1] Handwritten Casbon family history, ca. 1888–92, photocopy, whereabouts of original unknown, private collection of Jon Casbon.
[2] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), Register of Burials 1813-75, p. 47, no. 373, Joseph Casbon, 7 Mar 1847; imaged as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : accessed 28 April 2017), image 466 of 699; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 10.
[3] Cambridgeshire, England, Royston and Buntingford district, Melbourn sub-district, death registration, 1847, no. 92, Joseph Casbon (indexed as Caston, age 35), 3 Mar, Melbourn; image copy (downloaded as pdf file), General Registration Office, Southport, vol. 6/491.
[4] Robley Dunkinson, Medical Lexicon: a Dictionary of Medical Science; Containing a Concise Explanation of the Various Subjects and Terms of Physiology, Pathology, Hygiene, Therapeutics, Pharmacology, Obstetrics, Medical Jurisprudence, &c, 13th ed. rev. (Philadelphia: Blanchard and Lea, 1856), p. 179, “Catarrh’”; online image, Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009703960 : accessed 29 May 2018).
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid, p. 233, “Consumption.”
[9] John Frith, “History of Tuberculosis. Part 1 – Phthisis, Consumption and the White Plague,” Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health, vol. 22, no. 2, online edition (http://jmvh.org/article/history-of-tuberculosis-part-1-phthisis-consumption-and-the-white-plague/ : accessed 29 May 2018).
[10] Ibid.
[11] Jon Casbon, “Joseph and Lydia (Burgess) Casbon,” 2 Mar 2017, Our Casbon Journey (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/joseph-and-lydia-burgess-casbon/ : accessed 29 May 2018).

A Casbon in Parliament?

Well, yes … sort of.

This advertisement appeared in The (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) Daily Colonist in 1907.[1]

William Casbon Parliament(Click on image to enlarge)

As you can see, the advertisement includes an endorsement of sorts by “William Casbon, Superintendent of the Refreshment Department of the House of Lords, London.” This William is an interesting character, arising from humble beginnings in Meldreth, Cambridgeshire before rising to this somewhat exalted position. His ascent reflects the social and economic changes during the transition from the Victorian era into the twentieth century.

We can trace his ancestry back to Meldreth through his father and grandfather – both named William – and then back three more generations to the “original” John of early 18th century Meldreth (see “Stuck on John”).

descendancy chart

His father William was born in late 1834 or early 1835, and baptized in Meldreth February 7, 1835.[2] Initially an agricultural labourer like his predecessors, by his later years he was known as a fruit grower and market gardener.[3],[4] It would be interesting to know how he was able to advance above the station of a labourer, but I don’t have any information that would help answer that question. The wife of this William and mother of our parliamentarian was baptized Sarah West at Soham, Cambridgeshire, in 1823. Besides William, they had two other children: Walter (1856–1923) and Priscilla (1862–after 1891).

William’s paternal grandfather was also named William. He was the second son of Isaac and Susanna (Howes) Casbon of Meldreth.

The William of today’s post was born 1860 in Meldreth.[5],[6] I have not found a baptismal record. After appearing on the 1861 and 1871 censuses with his family, he disappears from view for over 20 years. I believe he is the William (Casban, Caskan?), age 23, birthplace Meldreth or Hildreth, Cambridgeshire, who appears in the 1881 census in the village of Breadsall, Derbyshire, as a railway signalman.[7] But there is too much ambiguity about this record for me to confidently say this is the same man. I also think he might be the “W. Casbon,” age 24, seeking a position as first footman in an 1884 London newspaper ad.[8] But again, there just isn’t enough information to make a firm identification.

The next record I can confirm as belonging to this William is his marriage in 1892 to Mary Grace Hoskins, at St George-Hanover Square, London.[9]

William next appears in the 1901 census, living in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire. His occupation is listed as “Golf Club Manager.” This is quite a step up from the son of a labourer in Meldreth. It was in this same year that he received a provisional appointment as Superintendent of the Refreshment Department, along with “a house and certain allowances.”[10] I can only guess that the experience he gained as a golf club manager gave him the necessary skills to qualify and be appointed to the House of Lords position. Perhaps he was able to make some influential friends along the way.

The provisional appointment must have been converted to a permanent position. William and Mary appear in the 1911 census, their address listed as “House of Lords Westminster,” occupation “caterers.”[11] The census also records that they had two servants.

The advertisement at the beginning of this post caused some controversy. This was written in the popular magazine, Truth, in 1906.[12]

Wm Casbon in Truth magazine 1906(Click on image to enlarge)

It appears that William was providing certificates for products on his own initiative (presumably for a fee). The trouble seems to have arisen in 1905, but as the 1907 advertisement shows, the Scotch whiskey purveyors were still using his certificates well after they had supposedly “expired.” Apparently, the controversy was not enough for him to lose his job. Although not mentioned in the Truth article, William did not limit his endorsements to whiskey. I found this advertisement for marmalade in another newspaper.[13]

Marmalade endorsement(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). 

All this leads me to conclude that William must have been an energetic and ambitious man who capitalized on opportunities to improve his station in life. I think he must have had a winning personality, as well as natural talent, to advance as far as he did. I don’t know whether he was being astute or naïve when it comes to the use of his position in Parliament to endorse certain products.

William and his wife Mary Grace never had children, so there are no descendants today. William died on September 8, 1939, leaving Mary Grace an estate of about £355 (worth about £21,600 today).[14],[15] Mary Grace died in 1950.[16]

[1] Advertisement for James Monroe & Sons “House of Lords” Whiskey, The (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) Daily Colonist. 10 Nov 1907, p. 1, col. 1; PDF image, Old FultonNY Post Cards (http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html : accessed 19 March 2016), search on Casbon,Whiskey.
[2] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877, William Casburn baptism (1835); FHL Microfilm 1,040,542.
[3] “Find a Will,” Gov.UK (https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk : accessed 6 March 2017), Wills and Probate 1858–1996, search terms Casbon, 1896.
[4] “1891 Census of England and Wales,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:W83R-F3Z : accessed 2 August 2016), entry for William Casbon (age 55), Witcroft Rd, Meldreth, Hertfordshire; citing The National Archives, RG 12, piece 1104, folio 14, p.18.
[5] “England & Wales births 1837-2006,” Royston, Hertfordshire, vol, 3A:205, William Casbon, 3d quarter, 1860; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 17 February 2017).
[6] “1861 Census of England and Wales,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1861%2f0005026675 : accessed 6 March 2017), Meldreth, Royston, Hertfordshire, England, schedule 11, William Carston (age 25); citing [The National Archives], enumeration district 15, RG 09, piece 815, folio 54, p. 4.
[7] “1881 England, Wales & Scotland Census,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1881%2f0015417935 : accessed 6 March 2017), entry for William Caskan (age 23), Pall Mall, Breadsall, Shardlow, Derbyshire, England; citing [The National Archives], RG 11, piece 3393, folio 67, p. 2.
[8] “Want Places,” The (London) Morning Post, 5 March 1884, p. 8, col. 7; online image, “British Newspaper Collection,” findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/bna : accessed 6 March 2017)
[9] “England & Wales Marriages 1837-2008,” St George Hanover Square, London, England, vol. 1A, p. 837, William Casbon & Mary Grace Hoskin, 3d quarter 1892; database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fm%2f1892%2f3%2faz%2f000053%2f161 : accessed 4 March 2017).
[10] “Refreshment Department,” Journals of the House of Lords (H.M. Stationery Office, 1901 – Great Britain), Volume 133, p. 305; image, Google books (https://books.google.com/books?id=RcE4AQAAIAAJ&dq : accessed 5 March 2017).
[11] “1911 Census of England and Wales,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=gbc%2f1911%2frg14%2f00489%2f0075%2f1 : accessed 17 February 2017), entry for William Casbon (age 50), St Margaret & St John, Westminster, London, England; citing [The National Archives], enumeration district 24, census reference RG14PN489 RG78PN16 RD5 SD3 ED24 SN10.
[12] Truth (magazine), vol. 59, no. 1519, p. 309, col. 2; image, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=PHQxAQAAMAAJ&dq : accessed 5 March 2017).
[13] Advertisement for Dunster Marmalade, The (Willton) West Somerset (England) Free Press August 3, 1907, p. 3, col. 6; image, “British Newspaper Collection,” findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/bna : accessed 5 March 2017).
[14] “Find A Will,” digital image, Gov.UK (https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk : accessed 7 March 2017); 1944 National Probate Calendar, entry for William Casbon (died 8 September 1939).
[15] “UK Inflation Calculator,” Alioth LLC (http://www.in2013dollars.com : accessed 7 March 2017).
[16] ” Search the GRO [General Register Office] Online Index “, database, HM Passport Office (https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp : accessed 7 March 2017), Brighton, Sussex, England, vol. 5H: 70, Mary Grace Casbon death (age 84), June quarter, 1950.

James Casbon of Meldreth (~1772-1833)

I have discussed my 4th great-grandfather Isaac (“From England to Indiana, Part 2”) and his father Thomas (“Stepping back: Thomas Casbon, 1743-1799”). Today I will focus on Isaac’s older brother James, baptized as James Casbull on July 19, 1772 in Meldreth. [1]

Baptismal record of James Casbull (Click on image to enlarge)

He is an important link in ‘Our Casbon Journey’ because of his many descendants. Like his brother Isaac, the available records are limited to baptism, marriage, burial, and the baptisms of his children.

Being the son of a laborer, James probably started working at an early age to help support the family. Although no records show his occupation, he was almost certainly a laborer as well.

James married Ann Ward in Great Eversden, Cambridgeshire on October 19, 1793. [2] Great Eversden is a tiny village about 4 miles north of Meldreth.

Parish Church of Saint Mary, Great Eversden, Cambridgeshire, completed in 1470; © copyright John Salmon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License (Click on image to enlarge)

At first I could not be sure this was the right James, until I located this copy of the marriage record on Ancestry. [3]

(Click on image to enlarge]

When I saw that the marriage was witnessed by Thomas (either James’ father or brother) and Isaac Casbon, I knew I had my man!

Unfortunately, I can’t trace Ann Ward with certainty. It is a very common name. There are two baptismal records for Ann Ward from 1771, one in the village of Orwell, about 2 miles from both Meldreth and Great Eversden, and the other in Croydon cum Clapton, about 4 miles from Meldreth and Great Eversden. [4],[5] Most likely, she is the one from Croydon cum Clapton, since I was able to locate a separate marriage record for Ann Ward in Orwell dated 1797. [6]

James and Ann had only one child before Ann died in 1795. [7]

Burial record of Ann (Ward) Casbon February 18, 1795, Meldreth (Click on image to enlarge)

Their daughter Ruth was baptized March 17, 1794 in Meldreth. [8]

Left with an infant child, it didn’t take long for James to remarry, this time to Mary Howse, on November 23, 1796. [9]

Marriage record of James Casbon to Mary Howse (Click on image to enlarge)

Look back up at the first image in this post. There is Mary Howse’s baptism in the second entry! It’s tempting to think that Mary was related to Susanna Howes, the wife of James’ brother Isaac. If such a connection exists, I haven’t found it yet. Mary was born and raised in Meldreth, and Susanna was born and raised in nearby Bassingbourn. Nevertheless, I think there’s a good chance they were cousins.

James and his new wife Mary had three more children: Mary (baptized 1798 in Meldreth), [10] Nancy (or Ann – baptized 1800 in Meldreth), [11] and James Howse Casbon (born 1806 in Meldreth). [12] Mary married William Wood in Meldreth 1817. [13] Nancy (then known as Ann) married John Prime in Meldreth 1823. [14] Of son James, we shall hear more in a future post.

The only remaining records for James and Mary are for their burials. James was buried March 10, 1833 in Meldreth. [15]

Burial record of James Casbon, 1833, Meldreth (Click on image to enlarge)

His widow Mary followed James in death in 1837, also in Meldreth. [16]

[1] Church of England, Parish Church of Meldreth, “Bishop’s transcripts for Meldreth, 1599-1862.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9T9-NF4G?i=235&cat=1108704 [accessed 12 May 2016]
[2] “England Marriages, 1538–1973”, FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NVCJ-BYX [accessed 5 November 2016]
[3] “England, Select Marriages, 1538–1973”, Ancestry http://www.ancestry.com [accessed 26 October 2016]
[4] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J7HV-M9M [accessed 17 December 2016]
[5] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J93G-SHR [accessed 17 December 2016]
[6] “England Marriages, 1538–1973 ,” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NVC6-TZK [accessed 17 December 2016]
[7] “Bishop’s transcripts for Meldreth, 1599-1862.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9T9-NXFR?i=255&cat=1108704 [accessed 4 November 2016]
[8] Church of England. Parish Church of Meldreth, “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Baptisms 1794. FHL microfilm #1040542
[9] “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Marriages 1796.
[10] “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Baptisms 1798.
[11] “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Baptisms 1800.
[12] “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Baptisms 1806.
[13] “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Marriages 1817.
[14] “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Marriages 1823.
[15] “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Burials 1833.
[16] “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” Burials 1837.

From England to Indiana, Part 2

This is the second post of several reviewing the handwritten family history of Isaac Casbon and his descendants.

Beginning with this post, I plan to go through the document paragraph by paragraph, comparing what it says with other sources. This post looks at the first two paragraphs discussing Isaac Casbon and his four sons.

Para 1and2
(Click on image to enlarge)

Isaac Casbon Married Jayne Miller of Meldreth, Near Royston Cambridge shire Englan …. This statement is incorrect. Isaac’s wife wasn’t Jayne Miller. Parish records show that Isaac married Susanna Howes 1800 in Bassingbourn, a village near Meldreth.[1]

Isaac C Susanna H M Bassingb 1800Isaac Casbil & Susanna Howes _ _ _ 15th. Oct.r (1800). (Click on image to enlarge)

Baptismal records for Thomas[2] and William[3] also show that their mother’s name was Susanna.

This is an understandable mistake. It turns out that Isaac’s mother’s maiden name was Jane Wilson.[4] Jayne Williams and Jane Wilson are very similar. I think what happened is that as the family history was passed down orally the names of Isaac’s mother and wife were unintentionally switched and altered. This is a good illustration of why secondary sources like this aren’t considered as reliable as primary sources such as birth or baptismal records.

both were raised and born in this place. Isaac was definitely born[5] and raised in Meldreth. Susanna Howes was born in nearby Bassingbourn,[6] where they were married.

There were born to them Thomas William Joseph one dead he left no heirs James. As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve only been able to find parish baptismal records for Thomas and William.

Thos C birth christening 1803 Meldreth William C James C births Meldreth 1806
(Born) Nov’r 3 Thos. Son of Isac & Susanna Carsborn (baptized) Dec’r 25 (1803)
(Born) Aug.st 23 William, Son of Isaac & Susannah Casbon (baptized) Sep’t 28 (1806) (Click on images to enlarge)

Of Joseph, I have only located two records: his marriage in 1835 to Lydia Burgess[7], and his burial in 1847 at the age of 36.[8] From the latter we can estimate that Joseph was born about 1811. Joseph’s death also explains the statement one dead he left no heirs. Joseph and his wife Lydia had three daughters, Ann,[9] Mary, and Emma.[10] The statement that he left no heirs refers to the fact that he left no male heirs to carry on his name.

The final son, James, was born about 1814, based on census records.[11] James emigrated to the United States in 1871, and settled in Porter County, Indiana, near his brother Thomas.

Isaac Casbon was one of Six brothers their record of birth can be found at Meldreth or Melborn Church. As mentioned above, Jane Wilson (1741-1831) was the mother of Isaac and his siblings. Thomas Casbon (1743-1799) was their father. I’ve been able to locate baptismal records for one sister and five brothers, all at Meldreth. Anne was baptized in 1770[12]; James was baptized 1772[13]; Isaac was baptized July 1773. Thomas was baptized 1775.[14] Next were born three boys named John: the first was baptized 1776[15] and buried 1777[16]; the second was buried 1778[17] (no baptismal record); and the third was baptized 1779[18] and survived into adulthood. It was common practice at the time to ‘recycle’ names of offspring who were deceased.

Isaac C 1773 baptismIsaac Casbon’s baptismal record, 1773. Isaac Son of Thomas & Jane Casbull _ _ _ _ _ July 11. Does this record look familiar? Look at the collage at the top of the page! (Click on image to enlarge)

It’s impressive that the author of the family history knew so much about Isaac and his siblings. It’s unlikely that the author actually knew Isaac, since the name of his wife was recorded incorrectly; and the document was likely written very late in the 1800s, well after Isaac’s death in 1825.[19]

[1] Church of England. “Bishop’s transcripts for Bassingbourne, 1599-1859.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-896D-9D4?i=798&cat=672796 [accessed 17 May 2016]
[2] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J7WG-M77 [accessed 11 May 2016]
[3] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JWKF-RZS [accessed 4 September 2015]
[4] “England Marriages, 1538–1973.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NJK5-XZD [accessed 30 September 2015]
[5] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NRST-1T5 [accessed 10 May 2016]
[6] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N8KD-9YM [accessed 11 October 2016]
[7] “England Marriages, 1538–1973.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NF33-222 [accessed 12 July 2016]
[8] Church of England. “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877.” Burials 1847. FHL Microfilm #1040542
[9] “1841 Census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MQRZ-RDC [accessed 21 July 2016]
[10] “1851 Census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:SGRW-567 [accessed 21 July 2016]
[11] “1851 Census of England and Wales.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:SGBL-24P [accessed 12 July 2016]
[12] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JWKF-R2K [accessed 12 May 2016]
[13] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J7WG-93D [accessed 11 May 2016]
[14] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J7WG-93D [accessed 15 September 2015]
[15] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J7WG-93D [accessed 11 May 2016]
[16] Church of England. “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877.” Burials 1777.
[17] Church of England. “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877.” Burials 1778.
[18] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.” FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NRST-1P2 [accessed 15 September 2015]
[19] Church of England. “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877.” Burials 1825.