Author Topic: Casswell and Cheese  (Read 50 times)

Michael Caswell

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Casswell and Cheese
« on: November 27, 2019, 01:35:45 pm »

 I remember my father telling me, when I was a child, that his aunts in Avebury (the bakers) had told him that at one time, the Caswell family had been incredibly rich. But he had no further knowledge of how or why this should be. None of it rubbed off onto us, that’s for sure.
The Caswell family lived in Yatesbury since records began in the 12th century. Records even show Hugh De Careswell's marriage date of 6 Dec 1296 to Idonea.

From other records, it is seen that Hugh was a man of some wealth, as stated here.

Hugh de Careswell holds in Hyatesbury 16 acres of land for the term of his life which he had of the demise and grant of the said Matthew son of John before he enfeoffed under the feudal system) give (someone) freehold property or land in exchange for their pledged service.

(He enfeoffed trustees with the lands"under the feudal system) give (someone) freehold property or land in exchange for their pledged service.)

the said King Edward. At Yatesbury there is a capital messuage, and it is worth per annum 5s. There are there 217 acres of arable land worth 54s. 3d., and 9. acres of meadow worth 19s. There is there pastura in la Northfelde and on Coulesbo, and it is worth per annum 4s. Also of rent of assize, per annum, 61s. 2d. ; and of rent to the “succentor” of Sarum to have pasture on Northlese 3s., of rent of Robert Barvile one pair of spurs, price 6d.,of Hugh Carswell for a certain ditch 4 hens, price 8d., and of chersete 10 cocks and 30 hens, price 3s. 4d.

A few sparse records of Caswell's in Yatesbury dot the history books until we come to William De Caswell in 1317. It is he who is the rector of St Marys Church in Witney, a town close to the Caswell Castle at Curbridge. This castle is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1088 as being ‘abandoned’.

A chancel in the church was once named Caswell Chancel. It's name was changed to Wenman chancel around 1500 when a Richard Wenman owned Caswell Castle & farm according to property deeds I was shown at Caswell Castle farm. He was a very wealthy wool merchant and is celebrated by brasses in the church. So it should be no surprise to see William De Caswell listed as the rector in 1317.

It must be obvious that the immense wealth generated by the wool trade in Witney, had to be fed by people actually growing the wool, and here we have this William, on the Downs at Yatesbury, with a large parcel of land, a rector no less (nobleman worthy of living in a castle or baronial manor). See https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rector_(ecclesiastical) So the rector would have appointed a vicar to run the proceedings, and he would have also 'owned' the chancel.
 
 Living at Caswell castle just down the road in Curbridge would have given him the title 'De Caswell’.
In 1626 Robert Casswell of Yatesbury (his wife was Mary Chilcester) bequeathed his wheat field to one son, and a horse to another. He gave five pounds to the poor and five pounds to each of his five children.
Still in Yatesbury, about 1820, we have lots of evidence of this wealth. William and Ann Casswell (note the spelling change now) have an expensive tomb in the churchyard. Their son Robert gifted 6000 pounds to his nieces, as it looks like he had no heirs. (A third of a million pounds in todays money).There is a plaque on the wall in the Yatesbury church commemorating Robert’s generosity erected by his nieces, Anne LONG and Susanna BANNISTER".

The Casswell family moved from Yatesbury & Cherhill to Rowde and lived there for a couple of generations before moving to Trowbridge, where Richard Casswell became the church warden of St James Church. There are five bells in the belfry with his name cast on them.

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Whether he paid for these bells I'm not sure, but he had a fortune as he bequeathed 1200 pounds each to at least a dozen relatives in his will. He owned numerous properties in the town,
Duke St and Cottles Barton are mentioned. The rental from these was gifted as inheritances to children and grand children. So we can see from his lengthy will that at least 12000 pounds was gifted in cash, which would amount to almost a million pounds in todays money. The properties would have considerably more value. There is much discussion in the will regarding Consolidated Bank Annuities. Richard married Ann Marchant and has an elegant tomb in St James Church yard.
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Richard's grandson James married Suzanna Gunstone Slade, and had eleven children. He lived at Dilton Farm Westbury. His son named Edwin Thomas emigrated to Canada, after selling all their real estate.

Edwin became a cheese broker, He made a total of 55 trips across the ocean to further the industry of the dairy business.

He exhibited cheese at the Continental Exhibition o f 1874 held in Philadelphia. Here, Casswell ran into problems. It seems too many area farmers did not want to sell their cheese for exhibit. Caswell and another man, Thomas Ballantyne of Stratford, Ontario, went themselves to the farms collecting cheese and to guarantee the cheese makers they would not lose anything on what was to be shipped to the exhibition.The exhibition was a great success and added to the already growing reputation of Canadian and especially Ingersoll cheese.
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"He was one of the pioneer cheese men of the country. It was to men of his push, integrity , and intelligence that the country owes the immense cheese trade it enjoys today." Mr Casswell built up quite a fortune, but subsequently was unfortunate in business, and lost most of his wealth. He was president in the Dairyman's Association of Western Ontario four times. He retired to London, Ontario, and ran a small retail business until his death in 1896 at the age of 66.
The association of Edwin Casswell and the Harris brothers James and Miles, (not of Calne descent) who were already involved in the cheese business, led to them making the worlds biggest cheese to be exhibited at an exposition in Saratoga Springs, for the New York State Fair. The cheese was enormous and was drawn to the railroad by six horses. It was 6'10" wide, weighed 7300lbs, and was 3' high.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 04:06:06 pm by Michael Caswell »

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Michael Caswell

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Re: Casswell and Cheese
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2019, 01:43:00 pm »
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Edwin Casswell's cheese and pork business in Woodstock Ontario Canada.


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The Big Cheese being transported to the Exposition in Saratoga Springs
« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 02:13:22 pm by Michael Caswell »