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This book is the fourth edition of Our Caswell Relatives. Shirley Mayse's book was out of print when I found it in the Kingston, Ontario library. I considered it such an important piece of work on the Caswell family that I decided to copy it and re-publish it, after obtaining Shirley's permission.
I photocopied each page of the book in the library, then took them home and scanned each page using an optical recognition program which converted the images into ASCII text. The text was then fed into a word processing program (AMIPRO) and edited. The work was slow, painstaking and tedious, spanning over 12 months, so if you find any errors they could be Shirley's, mine, or the computers! Sometimes the program sees a 'y' but records it as a 'v'', and with 562 pages of text it has been really difficult to eliminate them all. Occasionally you may see a number with the letter E in front of it (E50). The E means English Pounds Sterling. I was unable to change them after editing the text. The photographs in the copy I made of Shirley's book, were of such poor quality that I have omitted them from this book. For all that, the book is now on computer, and can be reprinted & edited at any time.
I actually found the CASSWELL family of Ingersoll, Ontario, (later in Portland, Oregon), who are cousins of mine, through this book, and for that alone I am eternally grateful to Shirley Mayse, as my new cousins are regularly in touch, and we soon hope to have a family reunion. Our new found family group gets a great deal of satisfaction from this new connection.
There are also many things in this book which lead me to believe that the Irish Caswells are indeed Wiltshire Caswells. Firstly, the name if of English origin, not Irish and it is commonly found in the West of England. The coat of arms sported by the Irish Caswells is almost identical to the Caswells of Binfield, Berkshire, which is only 20 miles from Yatesbury where our first (Robert) Caswell is recorded. Robert is a common family name, but found nowhere else in Caswell families, according to Noreen Haler of 'The Caswell Surname Organization'. James & Thomas also occur regularly. A Martha Caswell of Limerick had a niece at McLeod, Canada, and Anne Godwin, a relative of the Caswells from Yatesbury, Wiltshire was interred at McLeod. These two people must have known each other.
The Wiltshire bacon company of Harris Ltd was established in 1770 on the Irish pig trade. At this time there was a Caswell family living in Blackwater, Ireland, and the area was famous for its pigs. Cork was also a main port for the export of cattle and pigs, and in 1755 the British passed laws allowing the importation of Irish livestock, as there was not enough home grown meat to feed the rapidly expanding population. Coupling this fact with the name Baskerville, which was evident in Wiltshire about this time, leads one to seriously consider the connection. A James Caswell married a Mary Baskerville at Bremhill in 1770, the same year Mr Harris of Calne (3 miles from Bremhill) was buying Irish pigs on their way to London. Andrew Caswell held 240 acres of land in the prime pig producing area of Ireland. About the same time,, a bakery was run in Limerick, another Caswell trade.
My research is now in this direction, and hopefully I shall soon be able to prove that the Irish Caswells are indeed from Wiltshire.
If you have any data or other information, please let me know. I have a huge database of the Wiltshire Caswells, with approximately 9000 names all linked together. This is available as a GEDCOM of PAF file.
My mother, her brother Andrew, and her sister Ruby all told their children that the Caswells had come to Ireland from Holland.
A different account of the origin of the Caswell family comes from Dr. Milton Wellwood, of Victoria, B.C. Dr.Wellwood's father, the Rev. Nathaniel Wellwood (1850-1933), was a son of the Jane Caswell who was born in Limerick in 1819 and was brought to Canada as a babe in arms. In his unfinished memoir, now in the possession of his son Milton, Nathaniel Wellwood wrote that his mother, Jane Caswell, was of Welsh descent on her father's side and Palatine Irish on her mother's. Nathan Mother said that they came with the Duke of Schoftiberg in the time of William of Orange.
Nathaniel Wellwood's grand-niece, Miss Elsie Caswell, of Collingwood, Ontario, wrote down for me her recollections of hearing him discourse on family history. Obviously she did not put much stock in his account. But, it must be remembered that the Rev. Nathaniel Wellwood was not a doddering old tale-spinner, but an intelligent and well-educated man who took a serious interest in the history of his family and had himself made a trip to Ireland. No doubt the story has suffered considerably in the retelling over the years. At any rate, here is Elsie Caswell's story in her own words:
"Great-uncle was very deaf, so generally did all the talking. This time I had been asked to bring a friend to dinner. Uncle's subject was a lecture on the Caswell family. They were pastoral people, had cattle, fished, etc. and lived in Essex. They fought the Romans who landed. Uncle spoke of Caswallein. The Britons backed westward on the English coast. After many years they went north into Wales and finally into Scotland. A family settled in Ireland. A nice story and all I could do was smile and nod. I was somewhat embarrassed as I wondered what my friend was thinking of all this."
Elsie Caswell's sister, Mrs. Florence Brock, also remembered hearing her great-uncle discourse on their family tree. In her version the proper name came out as "Caeswalien," and North Ireland, rather than just Ireland, was mentioned. Still another relative recorded the name as "Cainswallein."
A third theory of Caswell origins has come to me from a member of an Irish immigrant family of Caswells hailing from Northern Ireland and not as yet shown to be connected with our Caswells. According to them their family name was of Huguenot origin. This, like the previous two theories, rested only on oral tradition.
Mrs. Margaret Duerr, of Charlevoix, Michigan, a Wellwood descendant who has done a great deal of research into the history of her family, sent me this interesting theory about possible Caswell origins:
"Your belief--that the Caswells came with the Duke of Schomberg into Ireland from Holland, in the time of William of Orange--might also be true. An early Wellwood, resident in Glasgow in the time of Cromwell, sought political and/or religious asylum in Leyden, Holland. Not until William of orange became King William III, did some of this Wellwood family return to Scotland and England, and I have conjectured that a younger son could have emigrated to Ireland at this time. The latter conjecture is pure guesswork on my part, but it is a possibility which would explain how my Scottish Wellwood ancestors got to Ireland in the early 1700's."
A similar explanation could apply to Caswells. Thus, Welsh Caswells could have moved north into Scotland. In Cromwell's time they, too, might have sought political or religious asylum in Holland, and sons (or a son) of this Scottish family could have fought under the Duke of Schomberg and William of Orange when he invaded Ireland. He could have received land in Ireland in return for his military services. This, too, is mere guesswork, but it is at least historically possible and this narrative would fit all the known family legends. I am suggesting that one or more Scottish (or Welsh) Caswells fled to Holland and that their sons were living in Holland when they joined William's Dutch brigades, rather than that they were recruited in England or Wales. We may never be able to prove any of these theories, but I find it necessary to develop theories that are historically possible to explain the migrations that took place."
In the next few paragraphs I shall set down a little background information about the Duke of Schomberg, the Pal atines, and the Dutch presence in Limerick, the city that was the home of some of our Irish kinsmen. The Duke of Schomberg (1615-1690) was, to quote from the Britannica, a "German soldier of fortune, a marshal of France, and an English peer. He was killed during the Battle of the Boyne, in which he fought for the Protestant King William III and Queen Mary II of Great Britain against Irish adherents of the deposed Catholic King James II of Great Britain." Schomberg had commanded, under William, the Eng lish expedition of 1688. In 1689 he was commander-in-chief in Ireland. His tomb is in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. On it is the bitterly sarcastic epitaph written by Jonathan Swift, Dean of that Protestant cathedral. Swift praises Schomberg, the great soldier, but shows contempt for the niggardly relatives of the dead hero who had ignored repeated requests from the cathedral authorities to provide their illustrious kinsman with a fitting monument. In the hope that Some future researcher may try to find Caswells listed among Schomberg's soldiers I include the following names of regiments under Schomberg's command. I found them in Thomas D'Arcy McGee's "History of Ireland."
"Schomberg led the famous blue Dutch and white Dutch regiments and the Huguenot regiments La Millinier, Du Cambon, and La Callimotte; the English regiments of Lords Devonshire, Delamere, Lovelace, Sir John Lanier, Colonels Langston, Villiers, and others; the Anglo-Irish regiments of Lords Meath, Roscommon, Kingston, and Drogheda; with Ulstermen, under Brigadier Wolseley, Colonels Gustavus Hamilton, Mitchel borne, 'Lloyd, White, St. John, and Tiffany."
Also mentioned were Danes, Swiss, Prussians, Scotch, and Scotch-Irish.~In April, 1976, my Limerick friend and helper, the late Rev. Mr. Shorten, wrote to me:
"I came across an item that gives some hope of finding Limerick links with Schomberg's troops. Just beside the font and on the floor of that chapel [one of the chapels in St. Mary's Cathedral] is a stone slab commemorat ing one William Ferrar, only son of William Ferrar, a captain in Schomberg's cavalry serv ing in Ireland 1689-1691. When Limerick was surrendered William Ferrar, senior, married Marie Lloyd and settled in the city. One of his grandchildren, John Ferrar, was the founder of the newspaper the 'Limerick Chronicle' in 1766."
It is interesting to note that the Duke of Schomberg was born in Heidelberg in the Palatinate. Heidelberg, an important centre of Calvinism, was almost completely de stroyed by the French in 1689 and 1691. It is from Palatines that some family members believe that Margaret Bassett (wife of our 1819 immigrant ancestor Nathaniel Caswell) was descended. The Palatine was an area west of the Rhine which in 1688 had been ruthlessly destroyed with unbelievable cruelty by armies carrying out the orders of Louis XIV of France. The "Handbook of Irish Genealogy" (Heraldic Artists Ltd., Dublin, 1972) states that German-speaking Protestant refugees from the Palatine landed in Dublin in September, 1709. Many more sailed.directly to North America. Those who stayed in Ireland settled mainly in County Limerick and to a lesser extent in north County Kerry. There are, however, no Caswells or Bassetts listed in Hank Jones's out-of-print booklet which I consulted in the National Library of Ireland, in Dublin.
Further details about the Palatines--I paraphrase here rather than quote--are found in a book published in 1896 by the Rev. James Dowd. Rathkeale, in County Limerick, was the chief centre 6f settlement of many German Protestants from the Palatinate. In 1709 Queen Anne had sent a fleet to Rotterdam to bring back refugees. Seven thousand people were rescued. Of these three thousand settled in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Lord Southwell brought a large number of the refugees and settled them on his estate in the County of Limerick. His example was followed by other proprietors, so that very few Palatines remained in England. According to the Rev. Mr. Dowd large numbers of the Palatines left Ireland for America--this could mean both Canada and the United States--about the middle of the 1800's. The result was that at.the time of his book (1896) he estimated that there could not be more than seven hundred left in the County of Limerick. Of the seventy or so Palatine surnames that Mr. Dowd lists only Delmege and Piper have turned up as the names of Caswell spouses. For Christian names the Palatines seemed to have favoured Old Testament names much more exotic than those borne by some of our Caswells. Mr. Dowd described the palatines as black-haired, harder featured than Celts, thrifty, hardworking, and in general comfortably off. Many, he said were Wesleyans.
We have as yet no proof that the Caswells came from either Holland or the Palatine. We do, however, have positive proof that before coming to Canada the Caswells lived in and around Limerick. And concerning Limerick the Rev. Rodney Shorten had this to say:
"There is much evidence of Dutch Settlement in Limerick after the Battle of the Boyne and the Siege of Limerick. Many soldiers and merchants settled in the part called English Town round St. Mary's Cathedral and else where and introduced brickwork for house construction--pale red in colour. The old town hall, pulled down about 1900, had Dutch gables."
St. Mary's Cathedral just mentioned is the Church of Ireland (Protestant) where numerous Limerick Caswells were baptized and married. The editor of "Old Limerick," a limited edition book let of pictures, published in 1976, mentions that there were Dutch settlers in Limerick as early as 1620 in the district called the Abbey. A.J. O'Halloran, in his "The Glamour of Limerick," tells that:
"Mary Street was once lined at both sides with quaint old brick-gabled houses. Partially demolished by William's guns during the siege of 1690-1691 they were reconstructed by the Dutch adventurers who followed in his wake."
References to a distant Welsh origin keep cropping up from time to time among Caswells. Like the Dutch and Palatine theories of origin these, too, are unsupported by evidence. This does not, of course, mean that in the long run they may not turn out to have been correct. Certainly there are many Caswells in Wales and the adjoining parts of England. One need only look at local telephone directories to learn this. There is actually a Caswell Bay somewhere on the Welsh coast.
Mr. Eric Daniels, my genealogist correspondent and helper, who lives in Bristol, has accumulated for me a large number of references to English Caswells, some of the references going back hundreds of years. But so far there is nothing to show any connection between our Irish Caswells and these numerous English Caswells. Mr. Daniels says that in such publications as the name is mentioned in 'the family appear to come solidly from Middlesex, the county adjoining but due west of London, and now no longer strictly speaking in existence. Mr. Daniels is of the opinion that some time in the eighteenth century a branch of some English family of Caswells went to Ireland, perhaps getting an estate or a farm as a reward for military allegiance. He thinks it far more likely that the English Caswells went to Ireland rather than the reverse. He adds that the absence of Roman Catholics among the Limerick Caswells gives weight to this, but does not, of course, confirm it.
I give the last word in this section on Caswell origins to my Limerick helper, the late Rev. Mr. Shorten. He wrote:
"As for a Welsh origin for the Caswells, one or more Caswell men could have been recruited in England or Wales into William III's Irish brigades and come to Ireland and been labelled as of Dutch origin."
Concerning the origin of the Caswell surname I shall quote only two references. The first quotation is from Addison's "Understanding English Surnames":
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