William Caseborne of Littleport and His Descendants, Part 2

My previous post explored the origins of the “Peterborough Casbons,” a line that I’ve traced back to William Caseborne, who died at Littleport, Cambridgeshire in 1699. A chart outlined the first five generations of the family line, beginning with William and his wife Alice. The line of descent from William through the fifth generation is as follows:
1. William Caseborn (married Alice _____) → 2. Thomas Caseborn (baptized 1695, married Ann Kendale) → 3. Thomas Casborn (baptized 1732, married Mary Diamond) →
4. Thomas Casborn (baptized 1776, married Ann Dolby) → 5. Thomas Casbon (born about 1807, married Jane Cooper).

The following chart picks up where the previous one left off, beginning with generation five.

Outline chart showing the fifth through ninth generations of William Caseborn’s descendants; numbers before each name denote the generation, with each generation represented by a different color (Littleport Bishop’s Transcripts; UK, General Register Office; assorted parish records) (Click on image to enlarge)

Although the chart begins with Thomas (born about 1807), I’ll start by going back to his father, Thomas Casborn (~1776­–1855). Thomas’s line includes the only descendants of William Caseborn (generation one, died in 1699) who carry the Casbon surname today.

Thomas departed from Littleport with his family sometime between 1808 (baptisms of his children Elizabeth and Thomas) and 1812 (baptism of his daughter Sarah), when he was residing at Bluntisham, Huntingdonshire, some 14 miles southwest of Littleport. Thomas was the first member of the family line known to have the occupation of gardener.

Detail from 1841 census of Needingworth, Huntingdonshire (now Cambridgeshire) showing Thomas’s occupation as “Gardener”; the letter “N” in the right-hand column denotes that Thomas and his wife, Ann (Dolby), were not born in Huntingdonshire (source: The National Archives via Ancestry)

Thomas’s last known residence was at Colne, Huntingdonshire (1851 census).[1] His death was registered at St. Ives (which includes Colne) in 1855.[2]

Thomas’s only male child was also named Thomas, born about 1807 at Littleport (baptized 1808).[3] He is at the head of the chart above. Thomas, also a gardener, is noteworthy as the first member of the family to live in Peterborough. I have written several posts about Thomas and his descendants. These can be accessed by clicking on “Peterborough” in the tag menu to the right of this post.

The Casbon surname would have died out in this family line were it not for just one of Thomas’s descendants. In the chart above, you will see that every member of the ninth generation was born to Charles Arthur Casbon (1880–1945) by one of his two wives. The family name did not continue through other family members due to a predominance of female offspring or absence of children born to any male offspring.

The line of descent from Thomas to Charles Arthur is as follows: 5. Thomas Casbon (born about 1807, married Jane Cooper) → 6. John Casbon (born about 1832, married Rebecca Ann Speechly) → 7. Thomas Casbon (born 1854, married Elizabeth Pettifor) → 8. Charles Arthur Casbon (born 1880, married first, Grace Parker; second, Eliza Kate Harvey; third, Ethel Wright).

Wedding portrait of Charles Arthur Casbon to his second wife, Eliza Kate Harvey, 1915; courtesy of Charles “Tony” Casbon

Charles broke with the family tradition and became a baker instead of a gardener. He served as a horse keeper (groom) for the Army Veterinary Corps and rose to the rank of Corporal during World War I.[4]

I have only limited information on Charles’s children, all of whom are now deceased. Joseph Arthur Casbon joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and achieved a high position within the church. Leslie David Casbon was headmaster of a British School in Ethiopia and started the British International School in Cairo, Egypt. He was awarded the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.) and later the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.), the latter presented by the Queen during a state visit to Ethiopia.

Although the chart ends with the ninth generation, William Caseborne’s descendants now extend to at least thirteen generations, many of whom now have the Casbon surname.

[1] 1851 England census, Huntingdonshire, Colne, ED 13, p. 3, line 23; imaged at Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=8978 : accessed 11 Jan 21) > Huntingdonshire >Holywell Cum Needingworth >ALL >District 13>image 3 of 17; citing The National Archives, HO 107/448.
[2] “England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007,” database, FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2NLY-2KB : accessed 31 Dec 2014); citing General Register Office (Southport), vol. 3B/160.
[3] Church of England, Littleport Parish (Cambridgeshire), Bishop’s transcripts for Littleport, 1599-1857; browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-892X-H3Y1 : accessed 13 Sep 2016) image 511 of 872.
[4] Discharge documents for Charles Arthur Casbon, service no. 3283, 12 Apr 1919; database and images, Findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbm%2fwo363-4%2f7266171%2f141%2f1926 : accessed 12 March 2017); citing The National Archives, series WO 363.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Jesse Casbon vs. Hiram Church

This startling article appeared in the 30 June 1909 Porter County (Indiana) Vidette:

Porter County (Indiana) Vidette,, 30 Jun 1909, p. 1; microfilm image, Porter County Public Library (Click on image to enlarge)

                                                 Farmer Narrowly Escapes Bullets
   Hiram Church, a well known farmer living about two miles southwest of town, came near being the victim of an assassin’s bullet at an early hour this morning.
   Mr. Church was awakened about two o’clock by noises outside the house. He arose from bed, lighted a lamp and went to the window to investigate. The moment he reached the window a pistol shot rang out in the night air, the bullet lodging in the ceiling of the room in which Mr. Church was standing. In an instant a second shot was fired, the leaden missile being flattened against the stove.
   Hastily donning his clothes, Mr. Church summoned his son and struck out after the would-be assailant. The man was traced as far as Sager’s woods where the trail was lost.
   Before going home Mr. Church went to the home of Jesse Casbon, a man with whom he has had more or less trouble, and found him just returning to his place of abode.
   Mr. Church came to Valparaiso and swore out a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Casbon, charging him with assault with attempt to commit murder.
   The two men have had trouble over the renting of the farm on which Mr. Church resides, and the case is now in court, having been taken to Lake county on a change of venue. Bad feeling has existed between the two men for a year or more.
   Mr. Church is positive that he recognized Mr. Casbon through the window. The bullet which struck the stove was from a 32 calibre revolver and would easily have caused death had it not went wide of its human target.
   Mr. Casbon was arrested this afternoon by Constable Bryarly. He gave bonds for $1,000 and was released.

The next day the Evening Messenger reported that the grand jury returned an indictment against “Jesse Casbon, charged with shooting at Hiram Church, felonious assault.”[1]

For background, Jesse Casbon (1843–1934) was the third son of Thomas Casbon (1803–1888), who emigrated from England to Ohio in 1846 and then moved to Porter County, Indiana in 1865. Hiram Church (1866–1951) was the son-in-law of Jesse’s brother Charles Thomas Casbon and was married to Charles’s daughter Lodema. The Church family had been in northern Indiana since at least 1850. Hiram and Lodema hosted the 1901 Casbon family reunion at their home in Valparaiso.

As the article states, Jesse and Hiram Church were involved in a property dispute. The property involved was  about 160 acres located mainly in sections 26 and 27 of township 35 north, range 6 west, located about 1 ½ miles southwest of downtown Valparaiso, the county seat, and directly west of the county (poor) farm. Deed records show that Jesse purchased this property in 1879.[2] A plat map from 1895 shows this land in Jesse’s possession.

Detail from a map of Center Township, Lee and Lee’s Atlas of Porter County, Indiana. Illustrated (Chicaco: Lee & Lee, 1895), p. 39; imaged at Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4093pm.gla00070/ : accessed 6 Sep 20), showing Jesse Casbon’s land southwest of Valparaiso (Click on image to enlarge)

At some point Jesse rented the farm to Hiram Church. This contradicts the entry for Hiram in the 1910 census, where he is listed as the owner, not renter, of this property.[3]

Unfortunately, I don’t have access to any court records, so the details of the legal case are unclear. A fragment of a letter from Emma (Casbon) Rigg, Jesse’s sister, who was visiting from Iowa at the time and staying with him, suggests that Church claimed he had a verbal agreement that Jesse “would & did sell him the farm for 11000 [dollars].”[4]

Returning to the shooting, the odd thing is that I have not been able to find any evidence that Jesse was ever tried for the alleged assault. A few years ago, I searched the Valparaiso newspapers (on microfilm) at the Porter County Public Library, and I found no further mention of the shooting. Were the charges dropped?

Instead, the newspapers shift to the legal battle between Jesse and Hiram Church. An article in the 1 August 1909 (i.e., only one month after the shooting) Porter County Vidette quotes the Michigan City (LaPorte County, Indiana) Dispatch, stating that “Hiram Church filed an action against Jesse Casbon to quiet [sic: quit] title to a farm in Porter County owned by the former.”[5] In other words, Hiram claimed that he was the rightful owner of the property. Even though it was only one month later, no mention was made of the assault charge against Jesse. The article also stated that the venue for the case was changed from Porter to LaPorte county.

A 6 July 1911 article in the Hammond Lake County Times stated that the case of “Jesse Cashon [sic] vs. Hiram Church; Possession” was filed in the superior court at Crown Point, Indiana.[6]

The Hammond Lake County (Indiana) Times, 6 Jul 1911, p. 5, col. 1; microfilm, Porter County Library; author’s collection (Click on image to enlarge)

What had happened with the case in LaPorte County? Why was a case now being filed in Lake County (immediately west of Porter County), where it had supposedly been filed once before in 1909? I don’t have answers.

The resolution of the case is found in this undated article I received from Ilaine Church (a granddaughter-in-law of Hiram Church).

Undated news clipping, unknown newspaper; courtesy of Ilaine Church (Click on image to enlarge)

                                                             Settled Out of Court
   The case of Church against Casbon for the possession of real estate has been settled out of court and dismissed. The suit has been a noted one and has been in the courts for about four years. It was tried at Crown Point and Church won the suit. A new trial was secured by Casbon and the case was venued to Laporte county, where it was dismissed after the court received notice of the agreement for a settlement. The plaintiff gets possession from the defendant of a farm located near the county house, which was the subject of contention for which he is to pay the defendant $12,000.

This summarizes the case in a nutshell, although I wish there were more details. Apparently, Hiram Church won the case in Lake County referred to in July 1911, but what had happened in the preceding two or three years? It seems to have bounced back and forth between Porter, LaPorte, and Lake counties.

Even though undated, the article must have been written in either late 1911 or early January 1912, because a deed recorded in Porter County shows the sale by Jesse Casbon to Hiram Church of a piece of property matching the description of that first purchased by Jesse in 1879, for the price of 12,000 dollars.[7]

It is frustrating not having the details of either case—the alleged assault or the property dispute that might have triggered it. One thing that is clear is that there was a great deal of animosity between both parties in the dispute. It is unlikely that a 12,000-dollar payment did anything to ease the hard feelings.

In my previous post, I mentioned the possibility of bad blood between Jesse and his brother Charles. Given that Hiram Church was married to Charles’s daughter, is would be understandable if Charles took Hiram’s side in the argument and distanced himself from his brother.

[1] “Grand Jury Adjourns,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Evening Messenger, 1 Jul 1909, p. 1, col. 3; microfilm, Porter County Library.
[2] Indiana Porter County, Deed Index 6, Grantee, Mar 1876—Dec 83, Casbon Jesse from John T Derrit x3, 20 Mar 1879, Parts S26, 35, 27 T35 R6, recorded 15 Apr 1879; in collection “Deed records, 1836-1901,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/609009 : accessed 12 Jan 17; citing FHL Film 1,703,896, Item 5.
[3] 1910 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, Center Township, ED 137, sheet 7B, dwelling 115, family 118; imaged as “1910 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7884/ : accessed 6 Sep 20) >Indiana >Porter >Center >District 0137 >image 14 of 26.
[4] Fragment of letter from Emma Rigg to George Casbon, undated (ca. May 1910); image copy supplied by Claudia Vokoun, now in author’s collection.
[5] “Change of Venue in Four Cases,” The Porter County (Indiana) Vidette, 4 Aug 1909, p. 2, col. 1; microfilm, Porter County Library.
[6] “New Cases in Superior Court,” The Hammond Lake County (Indiana) Times, 6 Jul 1911, p. 5, col. 1; microfilm, Porter County Library.
[7] Porter County, Indiana, deed records, book 11, page not recorded, [copy of] warranty deed dated 10 Jan 1912, Jesse Casbon to Hiram Church for $12,000, E 1/2 SE 1/4 S27 and part W1/2 SW 1/4 S26 and part of NW 1/4 S 35, T35 R6W; photocopy, author’s collection.

The Casbon Family Reunion, October 1901, Valparaiso, Indiana

Casbon family reunion 24 October 1901; author’s collection (Please! Click on image to enlarge and see names)

I’ve had this photograph for so long that I don’t remember where or who it came from. I believe I was given a copy sometime in the 1990s when I was just starting my genealogy research. Many of today’s Casbons have seen a version of the photo because it serves as the cover image for the “Casbon Family” Facebook group. Although I’ve used it in a previous post and in my book, I have never written about the photograph in detail or given it the attention that it deserves.

The picture is a treasure. A lot of old photos don’t have names of the subjects written in. I was very lucky that my version of the photo came with a separate “key” that provided all the names. I used the key to add labels to the original photograph. It’s always nice to be able to put a face to a name, but how often can you put 36 faces to 36 names?

This is the only photograph I know of that shows all of Thomas Casbon’s (1803–1888) living children—Sylvester, Charles, Jesse, and Emma—together. Mary Ann, the oldest daughter, passed away in 1890. All of them, except for Emma, were born in England. Likewise, Amos, the son of Thomas’s brother James (~1813–1884), was born in England.

The picture gives us a glimpse into how people lived at the turn of the twentieth century. We can see how they dressed and what a typical house in the Midwest looked like. We can even see that bicycles haven’t changed that much in 120 years! (Woodie Marrell looks pretty proud of his bicycle!)

I’m especially lucky because the event captured in the photograph was reported in the local newspaper.

Photocopy of an article from The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Messenger, 31 October 1901; courtesy of Ilaine Church
(I think)

The Casbon family had a reunion at the home of Hida Church in this city Thursday. A sumptuous dinner and a pleasant social time marked the affair. The guests were: Sylvester Casbon and family; Charles Casbon and family; Jesse Casbon and family; Mrs. M. [Emma] Rigg, of Iowa; Lawrence Casbon and family, of South Bend; John Sands [Sams] and family, of Boone Grove; Lawrence Casbon and family, of Boone Grove; John [Thomas] Casbon, of Deep River; Charles Casbon, Jr. [son of Sylvester, therefore not Charles junior], of Valparaiso; Myron Dayton and wife; Mrs. Mary Casbon [widow of James] and John Merrill and family.

The attendees of the reunion included most of the living descendants of Thomas and James Casbon, who emigrated to the United States with their families in 1846 and 1870, respectively. To me, the photograph is a testimony to the brothers’ determination and a visual confirmation of the family’s growth and prosperity since coming to America.

I’ve created a diagram showing how most of the attendees were related. It is color coded by generation. Attendees are indicated by bold-face type. Several deceased individuals, including Thomas and James, as well as former wives, are listed in the diagram in order to make the lines of descent clear. Their names are printed in italics.

A diagram showing those descendants of Thomas and James Casbon who attended the October 1901 reunion (Click on image to enlarge)

Also included in the photograph but not the descendants of Thomas or James Casbon are Woodie (or Woody) and Susie Marrell, the children of John Marrell, who is mentioned in the news article, the brother of Mary Marrell Casbon.

There are also several notable absences from the photograph. George W. Casbon, Sylvester’s youngest son, who was raised by his aunt Emma (Casbon) and uncle Robert N. Rigg, was living in Iowa. Note that Emma was present at the reunion. Charles Parkfield Casbon’s wife, Julia (Bidwell), is not in the photo, even though the news article says that Charles “Jr.” was there with his family. Julia would have been almost eight months pregnant with their first child, Herman, at the time. Three of Jesse Casbon’s daughters—Anna, Edna, and Lillian—were not there. Anna was married and living in Wisconsin; I don’t know why the other two were absent. Finally, Amos Casbon’s two sisters, Margaret (“Maggie”) and Alice, were not there. Maggie was married and living nearby but was possibly estranged from the others. Alice was also married and living nearby.

The reunion was held at the home of “Hida”—Thomas Hiram Church, Jr.—and his wife, Lodema (Casbon). The 1900 census tells us that Hida and Lodema lived at 5 East Elm Street in Valparaiso.[1] The streets were later renumbered, and this house can now be seen at 105 Elm Street.

The house at 105 Elm Street, Valparaiso, Indiana; courtesy of Ilaine Church (Click on image to enlarge)

Aside from no longer having a covered front porch, the facade of the house has changed little since 1901.

As separate branches of the family grew and dispersed, the tradition of reunions dwindled. However, since both Sylvester and Amos married Aylesworth girls, their descendants continued to attend the annual Aylesworth reunions in Porter County, Indiana. My father remembers attending these. These reunions still occur the first weekend in August every year (except this one, thanks to COVID-19). In recent years, Casbon reunions were started up again, hosted by the late Michael J. Casbon. I was fortunate to attend the most recent one of these in 2017.

[1] 1900 U.S. Census, Porter County, Indiana, ED 81, sheet 9A; imaged as “”United States Census, 1900,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6QNS-WRP?i=16 : accessed 12 Apr 2017) >Indiana >Porter >ED 81 Center Township Valparaiso city Ward 1 >image 17 of 31; citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 398.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peterborough Group

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

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

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

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

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

Meldreth Group 1

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

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

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

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

Meldreth Group 2

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

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

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

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

Meldreth Group 3

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

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

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

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

Chatteris Group

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

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

General Observations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Herman, Floyd, and Harriet, about 1905

I must start this post with an apology. I’m not sure who sent me the photograph of Herman, Floyd and Harriet Casbon. I believe it was one of my Iowa Casbon cousins. I’m sorry for not giving you proper credit!

Left to right: Herman, Harriet, and Floyd Casbon, ca. 1905, probably taken at Valparaiso, Indiana (Click on image to enlarge)

I love old photographs, and this one is especially nice. It is clearly a formal studio portrait. The boys are wearing identical outfits and Harriet has a lovely dress with a bow in her hair. The boys are standing at rigid attention. I especially like that fact that all three seem to have their eyes focused on different points; only Harriet is looking at the camera.

Herman Parkfield Casbon was born near Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana, on
19 November 1900.[1] He was the oldest child of Charles Parkfield and Julia (Bidwell) Casbon. The Parkfield name memorializes the name of the ship taken by Thomas Casbon (1803–1888) and his family from Southampton, England to Quebec, Canada in 1846.

Herman appears in the 1920 census living in his parents’ house with an occupation that appears to be “mail clerk.”[2] In 1929, he married Clara Elizabeth London. Clara’s mother, also named Clara, was the Porter County Clerk and her namesake daughter was the Deputy County Clerk. Clara Casbon’s name appears on many county records and newspaper announcements. By 1930, Herman’s occupation was listed as “milk truck man,” a business he pursued for the rest of his life.[3]

Herman and Clara were divorced in September 1933.[4] This might have been triggered by the death of their first child, Clara Mae Casbon, who was born on 18 July 1931 and died of scarlet fever with meningitis on 8 April 1933.[5] The divorce was short-lived, however, as the couple was remarried in Jasper County, Indiana, less than one month later.[6] They went on to have two more children, Betty Rae and James Parkfield (there’s that name again!), both now deceased.

It must have been a volatile relationship, as Herman and Clara divorced again in 1939, this time for good.[7] Clara was granted custody of the children. By this time, Herman’s health was probably failing, for he died of hepatic cirrhosis due to chronic alcoholism on
17 November 1941.[8] No doubt, his problems with alcohol factored into the failed marriage.

Floyd Sylvester was Charles and Julia’s second child, born 27 January 1902.[9] Floyd married Ethel Dowdell in 1922.[10] The couple had six children—three girls followed by three boys: Erma Jean, Charlotte Louise, Marjorie Ellen, Charles Henry, Dennis Floyd, and Jerry Curtis. In 1930, Floyd’s occupation was given as “chaffeur [sic]—school bus,”[11] and by 1940 his full-time occupation was “farmer—grain.”[12] I believe Floyd took over his father’s house and farm. He died at Valparaiso on 19 February 1987, 85 years old.[13] His widow, Ethel, was 93 when she died on 8 April 2000.[14]

Harriet Lurancy Casbon was born on 26 June 1904.[15] She married Edwin R. Galloway in 1923[16] and divorced him in 1925.[17] She married Harold Edison Martin on 27 September 1939.[18] The couple had no children together, but Charles had a daughter from an earlier marriage and he also adopted a nephew, whom he raised as a son. Harold was an automobile salesman.[19] He died in 1971.[20] Harriet passed away at Valparaiso on 6 July 1983, age 79.[21] Her obituary mentioned that she “was a retired Center Township school bus driver with 29 years of service.”[22]

I have two other photos showing Herman, Floyd, and Harriet as older children. The first is said to be from 1907, but I have my doubts about the date because Harriet would have only been 3 years old in 1907 and she appears older than that in the photo..

Bundy School, Porter County, Indiana, said to be 1907; highlighted, left to right: Harriet, Floyd, and Herman; courtesy of Porter County Museum, https://www.facebook.com/pocomuse (Click on image to enlarge)

The Bundy school was located a little over one mile south of Charles Casbon’s home, on property owned by my great-grandfather, Lawrence L. Casbon. I originally posted this photo here.

Compare to this photo from the 1917–1918 school year

Bundy School, Porter County, Indiana, 1917–1918; highlighted, upper left, Herman; upper right, Floyd; lower right, Harriet; their brother Robert is in the second row, third from left (not highlighted); posted to the Porter County (Indiana) Memories UNLEASHED facebook page by Janet Bell; colorized using MyHeritage in Color™, https://www.myheritage.com/incolor (Click on image to enlarge)

[1] Indiana, State Board of Health, Certificate of Death, no. 35424; imaged as  “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60716 : accessed 9 November 2018), Certificate >1941 >13 >image 931 of 3017; citing Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis.
[2] 1920 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, ED 139, sheet A, line 35, family 51; imaged at FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1488411 : accessed 15 August 2017) >Indiana >Porter >Center >ED 139 >image 5 of 20.
[3] 1930 U.S. Census, Porter County, Indiana, ED 64-8, sheet 4A, p. 81 (stamped); imaged as “United States Census, 1930,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RH7-JS4 : accessed 9 November 2018),  Indiana > Porter > Valparaiso > ED 8 > image 7 of 20; citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 622.
[4] “Clara Casbon Given Decree,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, 21 Sep 1933, p. 3, col. 8; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 10 July 2017).
[5] Indiana, State Board of Health, Certificate of Death, no. 12647; imaged as “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60716 : accessed 9 November 2018), Certificate >1933 >05 >image 653 of 3009.
[6] Jasper County, Indiana, Marriage Record, vol. 13, Oct 1933-Oct 1934, p. 175;digitized as “Will County, Illinois marriage records, ca. Apr. 1836 – July 1928,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007857154?cat=1133019 : accessed 13 Nov 2018) >image 22 of 813; citing FHL film 2,449,719, item 1.
[7] “Local Woman Gets Divorce,” The Vidette-Messenger, 15 Feb 1939, p. 3, col. 3; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 12 November 2018).
[8] Indiana, State Board of Health, Certificate of Death, no. 35424.
[9] Indiana, State Board of Health, Certificate of Death, no. 87-006808; imaged as “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60716 : accessed 9 November 2018), Certificate >1987 >24 >image 816 of 2020.
[10] Will County, Marriage Records, ca. July – Nov. 1922, no. 37492; digitized as “Will County, Illinois marriage records, ca. Apr. 1836 – July 1928,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007747223?cat=1184888 : accessed 13 Nov 2018), images 20 & 22 of 889; citing FHL film 2,342,900.
[11] 1930 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, ED 10, sheet 12B, line 99; imaged as “United States Census, 1930,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1810731 : accessed 25 Jul 2017) >Indiana >Porter >Valparaiso >ED 10 >images 24-25 of 26.
[12] 1940 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, ED 64-10, sheet 11B, household 196; imaged as “United States Census, 1940,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/2000219 : accessed 28 Nov 2017) >Indiana > Porter > Center Township > 64-10 Center Township outside Valparaiso City, Porter County Poor Asylum > image 22 of 67.
[13] Indiana, State Board of Health, Certificate of Death, no. 87-006808.
[14] Indiana, State Board of Health, Certificate of Death, no. 014079; imaged as “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60716 : accessed 25 April 2019) >Certificate >2000 >09 >image 108 of 2602.
[15] Indiana, State Board of Health, Certificate of Death, no. 83-026515; imaged as “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60716 : accessed ), Certificate >1983 >11 >image 1535 of 2529.
[16] Photocopy of Porter County, Indiana, marriage record, Edwin R Galloway & Harriet L Casbon, 15 Feb 1923; author’s collection.
[17] Photocopy of Porter County, Indiana, marriage record, Harold Martin & Harriet Casbon, 27 Sep 1939; author’s collection.
[18] Photocopy of Porter County, Indiana, marriage record, Harold Martin & Harriet Casbon, 27 Sep 1939.
[19] “Obituaries … Harold E Martin,” The Vidette-Messenger, 21 Apr 1971, p. 13, col. 6; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 12 Dec 2016).
[20] “Obituaries … Harold E Martin.”
[21] Indiana, State Board of Health, Certificate of Death, no. 83-026515; imaged as “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60716 : accessed ), Certificate >1983 >11 >image 1535 of 2529.
[22] Photocopy of news clipping, “Obituaries … Harriet L Martin,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, 6 Jul 1983; author’s collection.


Here’s a research tip: when viewing images of records online, always check to see if there are more pages than the one you are viewing.

Case in point: Here is the top of a page from the passenger list of the steam ship Celtic, which arrived at Boston, Massachusetts on 10 June 1928, after departing from Liverpool, England on 2 June (you’ll need to enlarge the image to see the details).[1]

Detail from passenger list of the steam ship Celtic, list E, 1st page (National Archives and Records Administration) (Click on image to enlarge)

The person of interest is passenger number four, Margaret Fanny Casbon. We can see that she is 52 years old, her occupation is “domestic,” she can read and write in English, she is a subject of Great Britain, was born and resides at Royston, England, and was granted a visa on 25 May. We can also see that the list appears to be alphabetical, and is labeled as list “E”; therefore, it is probably part of a much longer document. All in all, it contains a great deal of information and looks like it might be a complete record for Margaret Fanny Casbon …until you look at the next image.[2]

Detail from passenger list of the steam ship Celtic, list E, 2nd page (National Archives and Records Administration) (Click on image to enlarge)

Now we can see that there are another 21 numbered columns pertaining to the passengers listed on the first image. Among other things, we learn that Margaret has a brother, John Marcus Casbon, who lives in Barley, England, and that this is her first trip to the United States. She is part of a group participating in a “Congregational Pilgrimage, Boston,” and will be in the U.S. for one week. Finally, after learning that she is not a polygamist or anarchist, is in good health and has no deformity, we can see that she is 5 feet 4 inches tall, has a “fresh” complexion, brown hair and grey eyes.

Her name, age, and relation to John Marcus Casbon all confirm that she is the daughter of John (~1835–1908) and Mary (Simmance, ~1837–1906) Casbon and the granddaughter of James (1806–1871) and Susanna (Sanders, ~1806–1850) Casbon, about whom I have written previously. Her common ancestor with my branch of the family is her second great-grandfather Thomas Casbon (~1743–1799). That makes us third cousins, several times removed. Not the closest of relations!

Sometime in the early 1850s, Margaret’s grandfather James migrated about five miles south from Meldreth, Cambridgeshire—the village where he was born and raised—to Barley, Hertfordshire. His son John continued in his father’s footsteps as both a farmer and carrier, i.e., a freight hauler. John’s brother, George, established himself in Barley as a wheelwright. These occupations placed them in a higher social class than my direct ancestors, who were agricultural laborers—essentially landless peasants. Barley was quite a small village, so the two brothers were probably well known there.  

Despite her family’s standing, we find Margaret working as a housemaid in London on the 1891 census.[3] I suppose she worked in domestic service for much of her life, given that her occupation on the 1928 passenger list is recorded as “domestic.”

Returning to the passenger list, what caught my attention was the fact that all the passengers listed on the page were participating in the Congregational Pilgrimage at Boston. In fact, only 7 of the 1,212 passengers on the Celtic were not part of the pilgrimage. Apparently, the ship was chartered to support this event.

It’s not surprising then, that the arrival of the ship was a newsworthy event, as can be seen from this clipping from the Boston Globe.[4]


The Globe reported that this was “the largest party of foreign visitors ever to land in this country from one vessel.”[5]

The visit has been arranged with special reference to the fact that the Pilgrims, in 1620, founded the first Congregational Church in America, and the visiting Congregationalists are intensely interested in seeing the place where the Pilgrims landed. They have styled themselves “the Twentieth Century Pilgrims,” and have declared the purpose of the trip to be that of “strengthening the bonds of fellowship between American and British Congregationalists, and through them, between the two great Nations which hold their loyalty and devotion.”[6]

Another newspaper made these observations:

There is little resemblance between the modern pilgrimage and the trip of the first Pilgrims to America. Gin and brandy were a part of the Mayflower’s cargo, and beer was the daily “washer down” of the “bacon, hard tack, salt beef smoked herring and cheese” which was the fare of the mariners en route to the land of plenty, but all alcoholic beverages have been tabooed by the congregational pilgrimage, in deference to the American prohibition laws and their own temperance ideas. Moreover, excellent cooks will provide viands beyond the skill of the pilgrim mother, with her simple “frying pan and kettle heated over a fire on a box of sand.”[7]

The itinerary included visits to Plymouth, Lexington, and Concord, followed by a trip to New York, from whence they departed again aboard the Celtic for England.[8] This must have been the trip of a lifetime for Margaret!

I was curious to find out more about Congregationalism and Margaret’s role in the Congregational church.

I won’t go into details here, but the roots of Congregationalism go back to Henry VIII and the founding of the Church of England. The early dissenters felt that the Church of England was still too close in organization and form to the Roman Catholic church. The early Congregationalists were known as Independents “who believed each church should be a gathering of believers joined together under a covenant agreement, and with the power to choose their own minister.”[9] Congregationalists were similar to Baptists in their beliefs; however, unlike the Baptists, the Congregationalists practiced infant baptism.

The Pilgrims who traveled to America in the Mayflower were an offshoot of this movement who sought to establish a “pure” church outside of the control of the Church of England. They were later joined by Puritans who fled England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The reform movements in England and America gradually took on more of a denominational form and churches became known as Congregational churches.

In 1841, an Independent chapel was built in Barley, Margaret’s hometown. This seems to have been occupied by the Baptists for many years but was turned over to the Congregationalists in 1889.[10]

The (former) Congregational Church in Barley; photo courtesy of Andrew Wood, Hertfordshire Churches in Photographs (https://hertfordshirechurches.wordpress.com/); used with permission.
Detail from U.K., Ordnance Survey, Hertfordshire V.SW (includes: Barkway; Barley; Reed; Royston.), six-inch series, revised: 1896, published: 1899; accessed at National Library of Scotland Map Images (https://maps.nls.uk/ : accessed 4 Jun 2020); The Congregational Chapel is circled; used with permission under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC-SA) license (Click on image to enlarge)

Margaret was apparently a well-known member of the congregation. A history of the Congregational Church in Great Chishill, Hertfordshire (which merged with the Barley congregation in 1994) reports that “Miss Margaret Casbon and her brother John were good supporters of the Chapel, gave generously and attended regularly.”[11]

There are very few records available to tell us what happened to Margaret later in life. She appears in the 1939 England and Wales Register (a census-like survey taken prior to World War II) living in the family home, known as “Mount House.” Her occupation was given as “housekeeper.”[12] By then both of her siblings, Florence Marian (Casbon) Smith (1864–1926) and John Marcus Casbon (1875–1936) were deceased. With Margaret’s death on
30 December 1956,[13] the line of her father’s descendants ended, as neither she nor her brother ever married, and their sister Florence had no children.

[1] “Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1923995 : accessed 2 Jun 2020) >336 – v. 514 Jun 1, 1928 – Jun 14, 1928 >image 235 of 410; citing NARA microfilm publication T843.
[2] “Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943,” >336 – v. 514 Jun 1, 1928 – Jun 14, 1928 >image 236 of 410.
[3] 1891 England census, London, Streatham, ED 5, p. 30, schedule 192 (corrected from 191), line 13, household of Albert (illegible) Turnham; imaged as “1891 England Census,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=6598 : accessed 2 Jun 2020) >London >Streatham >District 05 >image 55 of 61; citing The National Archives, RG 12, piece  454, folio 140.
[4] Boston Globe, 11 Jun 1928, p. 2; imaged at Newspapers.com (accessed 27 May 2020).
[5] Boston Globe, 11 Jun 1928, p. 2.
[6] Boston Globe, 11 Jun 1928, p. 2.
[7] “Modern Pilgrims to Visit America,” North Adams Evening Transcript, 18 May 1928, p. 10; imaged at Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 27 May 2020).
[8] Boston Globe, 11 Jun 1928, p. 2. “North Adams Will Aid in Pilgrimage,” North Adams Evening Transcript, 19 May 1928, p. 5, col. 2; imaged at Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 27 May 2020).
[9] “The Congregational Christian Tradition,” Congregational Library & Archives (http://www.congregationallibrary.org/researchers/congregational-christian-tradition#congregationalists : accessed 4 Jun 2020).
[10] “Barley Chapel, 19th/20th Century,” Genealogy in Hertfordshire (http://www.hertfordshire-genealogy.co.uk/data/answers/answers-2008/ans8-040-barley-chapel.htm : accessed 4 Jun 2020).
[11] Rev. Reginald Rooke, His Candlestick and a Light Among Them, Chapter 23, “Everyday Life in Barley Chapel”; reproduced as PDF files at “Great Chishill Congregational Church 1694-1954: A Brief History Of Its 260 Years Of Christian Witness,” Great & Little Chishill (http://www.greatchishill.org.uk/subpages/urc.html : accessed 4 Jun 2020).
[12] 1939 England and Wales Register, Hertfordshire, Hitchin, ED DFIJ, RD 135-2, schedule 115; imaged as “1939 England and Wales Register,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=61596 : accessed 27 May 2020) >Hertfordshire >Hitchin RD >DFIJ >image 10 of 16; citing The National Archives, RG 101/1659B.
[13] “England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVC6-M4CQ : accessed 28 September 2015), Margaret F Casbon, 1956;  citing General Register Office, Southport, vol 4A, p. 236, line 75.

Five Families, Eleven Weddings

Slocum … I’ve heard that name before; I wonder if she’s related?

Today’s post is an outgrowth of the two previous posts, in which I explored the connections between the Casbon and Aylesworth family trees. While conducting my Aylesworth research, I came upon the name of Martha Slocum, who married Philip Aylesworth, a member of the fourth generation of his family in America and a direct ancestor of many living Casbons.

The name Slocum was not new to me. William Wallace Slocum married Mary Casbon in Ohio, 1862.[1] After Mary died, he married Emma Payne in 1865 (see “From England to America, Part 8”).[2] Mary Casbon was the niece of Thomas Casbon, the original immigrant from England, and Emma Payne was the niece of Thomas’s wife, Emma Scruby. Emma Payne’s mother, Sarah Scruby, was married to James Payne of Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, England.

A little digging showed that Martha and William Wallace Slocum were distantly related. They were both descended from Giles Slocum ( ? –1682), who immigrated from England to Rhode Island before 1648.[3] Martha was descended from Giles’s son Samuel and William Wallace from Giles’s son Eleazar. Martha was in the fifth generation of descendants and William Wallace in the seventh.

So now I knew that the Slocum, Aylesworth, and Casbon families were all related to one another.

Furthermore, with William Wallace Slocum’s marriage to Emma Payne, the Slocums became connected to the Scruby family, who were already related to the Casbons through the marriage of Emma Scruby to Thomas Casbon and later through the marriage of Mary Payne (Emma Payne’s sister) to James Casbon.

Are you confused yet?

I decided to plot out all the ways that the Slocum, Aylesworth, Scruby (including Payne), and Casbon families were related. I added a fifth family, Priest, because I was aware of multiple connections on their part as well. Here is the result of my efforts.

Diagram depicting interconnected family trees of the Slocum (green), Aylesworth (orange), Scruby (pink), Casbon (blue) and Priest (yellow) families. Superscript numbers denote generations, with “1” depicting either the original immigrant (Slocum and Aylesworth) or the common ancestor (Scruby, Casbon, and Priest); colored lines indicate parent-child relationships and arrows depict direct descent through multiple generations; marriages are connected by black lines (Click on image to enlarge)

You’ll need to enlarge the diagram to see details.

As the title suggests, these five families are connected to each other through eleven marriages. Here is a summary of the connections for each family:

  • Slocum:
    – Connected to Aylesworth through the marriage of Martha5 Slocum to Philip4 Aylesworth, 1762[4]
    – Connected to Casbon through the marriage of William Wallace7 Slocum to Mary3 Casbon, 1862
    – Connected to Scruby through the marriage of William Wallace7 Slocum to Emma3 Payne, 1865
  • Aylesworth:
    – Connected to Slocum through the marriage of Philip4 Aylesworth to Martha5 Slocum, as above
    – Connected to Casbon through the marriages of Mary Adaline7 Aylesworth to Sylvester3 Casbon, 1860,[5] and Carrie Belle9 Aylesworth to Amos3 Casbon, 1900[6]
    – Connected to Scruby through the marriage of Louisa8 Aylesworth to George3 Scruby, 1872[7]
    – Connected to Priest through the marriage of Elliot7 Aylesworth to Caroline2 Priest, 1848[8]
  • Scruby:
    – Connected to Slocum through the marriage of Emma3 Payne to William Wallace7 Slocum, as above
    – Connected to Aylesworth through the marriage of George3 Scruby to Louisa8 Aylesworth, as above
    – Connected to Casbon through the marriages of Emma2 Scruby to Thomas2 Casbon, 1830,[9] and Mary3 Payne to James2 Casbon, 1876[10]
    – Connected to Priest through the marriage of James2 Scruby to Phebe2 Priest, 1824[11]
  • Casbon:
    – Connected to Slocum through the marriage of Mary3 Casbon to William Wallace7 Slocum, as above
    – Connected to Aylesworth through the marriages of Sylvester3 Casbon to Mary Adaline7 Aylesworth and Amos3 Casbon to Carrie Belle9 Aylesworth, as above
    – Connected to Scruby through the marriages of Thomas2 Casbon to Emma2 Scruby and James2 Casbon to Mary3 Payne, as above
    – Connected to Priest through the marriage of Mary Ann3 Casbon to Elijah2 Priest, 1853[12]
  • Priest:
    – Connected to Aylesworth through the marriage of Caroline2 Priest to Elliot7 Aylesworth, as above
    – Connected to Scruby through the marriage of Phebe2 Priest to James2 Scruby
    – Connected to Casbon through the marriage of Elijah2 Priest to Mary Ann3 Casbon, as above

Three of the families—Aylesworth, Scruby, and Casbon—are connected by marriage to all four of the remaining families. The remaining two families—Slocum and Priest—are connected to three of the other four families. Of the marriages, one took place in England, one in Rhode Island, six in Ohio, and three in Indiana.

The chart shows how entangled family trees can become. I’m going to coin a new term for this. Instead of a family tree, this is a family hedge! It’s an accurate description of what we see, with branches from several families intermingling and creating complex relationships.

I suspect this occurs more often than we might realize, but we might not see it because we’re not looking for it. Have you discovered any hedges in your family history?

[1] Ohio, Huron County, Marriage Records, vol. 1 [1855–1866], p. 350; imaged as “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789–2013,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XZ65-99 : accessed 21 Jul 2016) >Huron >Marriage Records 1855–1866 vol 1 >image 220 of 306.
[2] Ohio, Huron County, Marriage Records, vol. 1 [1855–1866], p. 465, no. 2779; imaged as “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789–2013,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XZ65-99 : accessed 22 May 2018) >Huron >Marriage Records 1855–1866 vol 1 >image 277 of 306.
[3] “Giles Slocum (abt. 1623 – aft. 1683),” article, WikiTree (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Slocum-10 : accessed 9 Apr 2020).
[4] James Newell Arnold, Rhode Island Vital Extracts, 1636–1850, volume 1 (Providence, R.I.: Narragansett Historical Publishing Company, 1891), p. 4; imaged at Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/3897/ : accessed 2 Apr 2020) >Vol· 01: Kent County: Births, Marriages, Deaths >image 432 of 637.
[5] Indiana, Porter County, Marriage Record Book 2 [Dec. 1850–Jun. 186], p. 458; Valparaiso (Indiana) Public Library.
[6] Indiana, Porter County, Marriage Record, vol. 12 [Nov. 1898–Oct. 1901], p. 326; browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/005014498?cat=608739 : accessed 8 Apr 2020) > Film # 005014497 >image 548 of 922.
[7] Ohio, Holmes County, Marriage Record, vol. 5 [1868–1877], p. 217; browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/004024929?cat=229343 : accessed 8 Apr 2020) > Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013 >Holmes >Marriage records 1868-1877 vol 5 >image 491 of 649.
[8] Ohio, Wayne County, Marriage Record, vol. 4B [1843–1851], p. 377; browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/004260649?cat=335541 : accessed 26 Aug 2016) >Film # 004260649 >image 550 of 644.
[9] Church of England, Melbourn (Cambridgeshire), Marriages, 1813–1837, p. 59, no. 175; browsable images, ” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007549343?cat=210722 : accessed 5 Feb. 2019) >image 318 of 710.
[10] Indiana, Porter County, Marriage Record, vol. 4 [Sep. 1871–Jan. 1875], p. 348; browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/005014495?cat=608739 : accessed 8 Apr 2020) > Film # 005014494 >image 693 of 928.
[11] Ohio, Wayne County, Marriage Record, vol. 4A [1835–1843], p. 91; browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/004260649?cat=335541 : accessed 8 Apr 2020) >Film # 004260649 >image 77 of 644.
[12] Ohio, Wayne County, Marriage Record, vol. 4 (1-2) [1844–1856], p. 140; FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/004260672?cat=335541 : accessed 8 Apr 2020) > Film # 004260672 >image 97 of 720.

William Scruby … or, “Aha,” Continued

In my last post I presented this news item from the Porter County (Indiana) Vidette of
27 August 1891.

Untitled news item, Porter County Vidette, 27 August 1891

I explained how finding this article had been an “aha” moment for me because it proved that Mary (Payne) Casbon and Emma/Rachel (Payne) Slocum were sisters. With this post I want to show how the article confirmed my belief that William Scruby was the son of James Scruby of Wooster, Ohio and the cousin of Mary and Emma/Rachel.

I need to step back 45 years earlier, to 1846, when Thomas Casbon and his family arrived in Ohio after leaving England. They chose to come to Wayne County, Ohio, because that is where James Scruby, the brother of Thomas’s wife, Emma, lived with his family.

James Scruby also had another sister, Sarah, who had married James Payne in England. Mary (i.e., “Mrs. James”) Casbon and Emma/Rachel Slocum were Sarah’s daughters. Therefore, the two sisters were first cousins to both James Scruby’s and Thomas Casbon’s children. This explains how William Scruby was related to the two sisters in the news item. However, before finding this news item, I had not been able to positively link William to Porter County, Indiana.

James Scruby, who was born about 1807, came to America in 1832. He appears in a document I call the “Isaac Manuscript,” because it is a handwritten family history that begins with Thomas Casbon’s father, Isaac.

Detail from an untitled manuscript, author unknown, ca. 1890-92, describing Isaac Casbon and the descendants of his son Thomas

James Scruby came to United States of
America settled in Wayne Co Ohio
Married Pheobe [sic] Priest to them was
born seven children
Joab William Charles Sam George
are all dead excep [sic] two first named
no heirs left but George’s two boys
Bennett and Olen

James, a farmer, appears in the 1850 U.S. census with his wife Phoebe (or Phebe) and the five sons mentioned in the manuscript.[1] (They also had a daughter who died in infancy. I haven’t been able to find evidence of a seventh child.)

Detail from 1850 U.S. census. Plain Township, Wayne County, Ohio (FamilySearch) (Click on image to enlarge)

Phoebe died in November 1851 and James died 11 months later, leaving the boys orphans ranging in age from 4 to 17 years old. Guardians were appointed for the boys, and Thomas Casbon was appointed as the guardian for William Scruby. The guardianship was required until William reached the age of 21, in about 1858. Thus, it’s possible that William lived in Thomas’s household until that time.

William’s brother Charles died from diptheria in 1863 while serving in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Samuel also served in the Union Army. He died of an unknown cause just one month after mustering out in June 1865. Brother George, who became a farmer in Wayne County, died in 1882. These deaths account for the statement “all dead excep two first named” in the Isaac Manuscript, above.

Joab Scruby, the oldest brother, became a teacher. He remained in Wayne County for many years, but eventually moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where he died in 1901. Contrary to what is said in the Isaac Manuscript, Joab had four sons, thus there were six heirs, including George’s two sons.

Returning to William, we find him listed in the 1860 census, in Wayne County, where he is reported as living alone in Plain Township, with the occupation of “Shoe Maker.”[2] In 1863 he registered for the draft in Wayne County.[3] However, there is no evidence that he ever served during the Civil War.

In the 1870 census, William Scruby, age 29, occupation “laborer,” and born in Ohio, was living in Boone Township, Porter County, Indiana.[4] Was this the same William? The reported age is about four years too young for our William. Before finding the news item above, I could not be sure he was the same man. However, with that new piece of information, I had proof, or at least strong circumstantial evidence that William Scruby—the son of James Scruby of Ohio—was living in Porter County in 1891. Therefore, I think it is likely that he was also the man reported on the 1870 census. Unfortunately, I have never found a listing for him in the 1880 census and the 1890 census was lost in a fire.

Assuming that William was living in Porter County, Indiana, in 1870, it is certainly possible that he arrived there at about the same time as Thomas Casbon, who moved there from Ohio in 1865. The fact that William came to Porter County at all suggests that he maintained a close relationship with Thomas and Emma Casbon. Perhaps the fact that Thomas had been his guardian created a strong and lasting bond.

William died on 9 May 1900.[5] His death was noted in the Porter County Vidette.

“Here and There … Death of Wm. Scobey,” Porter County Vidette, 17 May 1900, p. 2, col. 1; microfilm image, Valparaiso Public Library; William’s age is misstated—he was actually 67 years old

The strength of his relationship with his two female cousins is evidenced by the terms of his Will, in which he bequeathed 500 dollars to Mary and 250 dollars to Emma.

“Will of William Scruby,” Porter County Vidette, 24 May 1900, p. 1, col. 2; microfilm image, Porter County Public Library

William’s death ended a chapter of the story that began when his father, James Scruby, came to America in 1832, followed by Thomas Casbon and Emma/Rachel Payne in 1846, Mary Payne in 1856, and James Casbon in 1870. The story shows how family ties formed a bridge between continents, how those ties played an important role in the immigration to America, and how they continued to influence lives over the course of several decades.

[1] 1850 U.S. census, Wayne County, Ohio, Plain Township, p. 382 (stamped), dwelling 397, family 407 (surname indexed as “Lemly”; FamilySearch.org.
[2] 1860 U.S. census, Wayne County, Ohio, Plain Township, p. 52, dwelling 401, family 400; FamilySearch.org.
[3] Records of the Provost Marshall General’s Bureau, Enrollment Lists and Corrections, 1863-1865, Ohio, 14th Congressional District, Class 1, (L-Z), p. 431; contained in “Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865,” database with images, Ancestry.com > Ohio >14th > Vol 2 of 3 >image 318 of 549; citing NARA, RG 110.
[4] 1870 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, Boone Twp., page 17, dwelling & family 137, William Scruby (indexed as “Sernby”) in household of Henry Smity; FamilySearch.org.
[5] Indiana, State Board of Health, Certificate of Death, no. 189, Porter County, Boone Township, 9 May 1900, William Scruby; imaged as “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” Ancestry.com >Certificate >1899 – 1900 >15 >image 24 of 3028.