Mystery Grandson Solved

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William James Cussans birth entry

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to find out more about the mystery grandson, William CASSANS, found staying with the ALLEN family in the 1851 census.  I’ve actually wanted to do this for years – ever since I first found this census record.  If I could find who his mother was, I could add another child to that family and perhaps open up more doors.  Even though I guessed it was a spelling issue, I was never able to locate this child anywhere else.  To be fair, I wasn’t that bothered since he wasn’t a direct line from me, but seeing his name again bugged me and I set about to solve this mystery.
William CASSANS was only 3 years old (so born c.1848 in Gillingham) and staying with his grandparents William Henry & Sarah ALLEN in the 1851 census.

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1851 Census – William CUSSANS with the ALLEN family

I had previously searched the subsequent censuses under various spellings since Cassans gave me nothing.  (Some of the variants I found included; Cussans, Cussons, Cossons, Cousins and even Custance)
A search within two years of 1848 on findmypast, brought up the birth of a William James CUSSANS, registered in the Medway area, and a death in London that looked ‘promising’.

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A search for census records under this name found someone of the right name, age and birthplace married to a Jeanette in London 1881.

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1881 Census – CUSSANS

A quick search for marriage record with a ‘Jeanette’ as spouse brought up:

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Marriage of William CUSSANS (search results)

1873 fits with the age of the first child (6 years in 1881, therefore born a year or two later in 1874/75) but notice there is also another possible bride listed.
Ordinarily, a certificate would need to be ordered to actually prove which of these women was the one he married, however since this marriage took place in London, I was able to find the parish register entry in the London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 records on the ancestry website.  As well as proving the marriage, this record gave his father’s name as James CUSSANS, an upholsterer.

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Marriage of William CUSSANS (parish register)

Tracking William back to the 1861 census finds him in London with his parents, James (yay!) and Emma, who was born in Faversham, Kent (double yay!).

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1861 Census – Cussans

But was his mother an ALLEN?

Well, my many hours hunting the Kent parish registers showed that William Henry and Sarah did indeed have a daughter named Emma so the last thing I had to do was look for a marriage between a James Cassans and an Emma and…

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BAM!  I love it when a plan comes together…

Wrestling with Death (places)

William WREFORD was my famous (in those times) wrestling ancestor hailing from Devon (previously mentioned here and here).  So, the fact that the only likely death entry for him was registered in London was a bit worrying for me.  Could I be confident this was really him?
Luckily, I had found a newspaper article mentioning he had died ‘in the metropolis’ to help put my mind at ease:

DEATH OF A RENOWNED DEVONSHIRE WRESTLER. – On Sunday last the veteran William Wreford died after a very short illness at the house of one of his children, in the metropolis. (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette (Friday, 07 December, 1866)

The Wreford Pedigree also notes that he died 26 November 1866 aged 74 which matches the death record, so I’m confident this is my William WREFORD.

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The death record states William, a yeoman, died of ‘Natural decay’ on 26 November 1866 at 5 New Street, Bishopsgate [London].  However, the informant is listed as Thomas Cusiok/Cuscok (also living at 5 New Street), NOT one of his children.
Two of his children were living in London around this time.  William’s son, also named William, had been living in London from at least 1840 – he had married at St Dunstan in the East, and was in the censuses until 1861 as living in the court behind St Clement’s church, Eastcheap. (He was in the police force but by 1871, he was a ‘coffee house keeper’ a little further north in Paul Street.)

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Also, his daughter, Elizabeth had married a mariner (Alexander SMALL) in London, 1853 and was a widowed lodging house keeper by the 1871 census (where she lived further north in Tower Hamlets – I’m yet to find her on the 1861 census).  Could Thomas Cusiok have been one of her lodgers?

Next steps:
  • Who is Thomas Cusiok/Cuscok?
  • Find Elizabeth SMALL (nee WREFORD) in 1861 census

Workhouse Call

Read 1st part here and 2nd part here.

It took some time (and a bit of money) for me to find the right George PALMER’s death certificate. I am now quite sure this is the correct one as the age, occupation and location fit.


George Palmer’s death certificate – 29th October 1896
After an eventful life, George died in Westminster Union Workhouse. How did he end up there?
Note that George died of ‘Senile Decay’. Does this mean I have another lunatic on my hands?
Ancestry UK now has London Poor Law records available to view online. I searched the Westminster Union ‘Register of Lunatics’, which thankfully has a surname index and found there were no PALMER lunatics between the years of 1890 and 1898.
Unfortunately the ‘Admission and Discharge Book’ does NOT have a surname index. Using George’s date of death, I found his ‘discharge’ (death).

October 1896 Westminster Union Workhouse ‘Admission and Discharge Book’
George died on Thursday, October 29th 1896. His last meal was breakfast and his diet was described as ‘class 2’ (The Workhouse site explains the class of diet from 1900 onwards but I have yet to find a key to the Westminster Union classes in 1896).
The 1891 census for Westminster Union Workhouse contains a George Palmer of the same age, occupation and county of birth as mine.
George PALMER on the 1891 census in Westminster Union Workhouse

Presuming the George on the 1891 census is mine (the town of birth is listed as Winchester, Hampshire whereas all the other information that I have, states that George was born in Portsea, Hampshire), I have a window of 10 years in which to search for his admission.
Considering there is no surname index, this is a bit of a tedious task as I have to trawl through each page in the book for his surname – wish me luck!