Frederick William Caswell

This photograph from the chest is of Esther’s eldest son. He was named Frederick William Caswell (b. 04.11.1903, Pleasant View, Lanchester, Durham). He was called William (or Bill) day to day. I guess that it would have been confusing to have two Fredericks in the household (Esther’s husband was Frederick Caswell).



Wit and Folley in Amaizement

This is a genius piece of work, I have shared it on the ‘Roots Chat Forum‘ and had some great suggestions as to what it is, huge thank you to Andrew Tarr and Millipede for their input. Essentially you make it to be whatever you want it to be! The words in normal text are the actual lines of the poem, the bits in italics is where you add words, probably the ones in the larger font. It is probably a ‘Skill and Judgement’ exercise. It is all rather confusing, but undoubtedly brilliant and as one forum user said ‘No doubt it can be made as saucy as one wants’!

This is my first attempt at it (using just the large font words)!

Wit and Folley in Amaizement

Had both wit and a friend of whom I thought great store
Lent my money  to my friend and took his word therefore
Asked my friend of my money and nothing but word I got
Lost my friend and my money for sue him I would not 

But at length, with wit came my friend which pleaded me wonderous well
Got my money but my wit away quite from me fell.
But if I had money and a friend  as I had once before
Would keep my friend and my money and play the foul no more


Update 3rd May 2020

Holding the paper up to the light I have just spotted a really interesting watermark on the paper.

The Blessing of Mary Elisabeth Telford

In the chest is the blessing of Mary Elisabeth who was born on May 18th 1852. The blessing took place on May 28th 1882 and was conducted by Elder A.M. Harmon who was the Pastoral Charge of the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Hull and Carlisle Conferences for the Church of the Latter Day Saints. He originally came from the Great Salt Valley (Information on Elder A.E. Harmon was found here:

Blessing of Mary Elisabeth Telford (p1)
Blessing of Mary Elisabeth Telford (p1)
Blessing of Mary Elisabeth Telford (p2)
Blessing of Mary Elisabeth Telford (p2)

A transcription of the blessing is as follows (spellings as originally written):

Mary Elisabeth daughter of Robert and Hannah Telford, born May 18th 1852 in South Shields County of Durham and was blessed May 26th 1882 by Elder A.M. Harmon as follows.

Mary Elisabeth

                In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I take you up in my arms, according to the pattern shown by our Lord and Saviour and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood bless you because thy parents desire it. I pray God my Heavenly Father through Jesus his Son to bless the(e) with  health and strength and with a long life may she grow up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and become a pattern of piety to those with whom able may associate.

Grant Heavenly Father to perserve her from all the snares of the wicked one from all the plagues of the last days, from pain disease and death and may she grow up in the Faith of Christ . be gathered to the Mountains of Ephraim and there be an ornament of Society, and be numbered with the Daughters of Zion. And as much as she is trained up in a right manner and in faithfulness by her  parents she shall receive all those blessings upon thy head to be realised through the faith of thyself and parents. The destroying angel shall pass by thee and not have power to lay his Iron grasp until thy work is done upon the earth and thou shalt be perserved by the power of the Great God and your name is

Mary Elizabeth


Currently I do not know why this is in the chest, or if there is any relation to the Charlton/Caswell families. It is a bit of a mystery!

An IOU from 1895

Within the chest is an IOU signed by Robert Charlton who is borrowing money from William Charlton.

The transcription is:


July 18th 1895

I promise to pay to William Charlton of Broomhill on demand the sum of Eighteen Pounds with Interest at Five% pr anuam

Signed Robert Charlton

I think that the ‘Robert Charlton’ who is borrowing the money is probably William’s younger brother who was born at Blackhall Hill, Durham in 1837.

I wonder if the fact that it still exists means that it was never paid back?

I Am Your Ever Lovely Son Willie

William Hedley Charlton (born 21 June 1872, Broom Hill, Durham) was Esther’s older brother. He was by all accounts the apple of his mother’s eye, whereas Esther was reported to be a daddy’s girl. This certainly looks to be the case when you look at their respective gravestones. Esther is buried with her father in St. Ebba’s Church, Ebchester. Whereas, Margaret and William are buried in Hamsterley Church yard.

He died at the young age of 29 years (1 September 1902, Station Hotel, Ebchester). According to his death certificate the cause of death was:

 Tubercular Disease of Kidney Р6 years
Angloid Diseased Liver, Kidney and Bowel – 1 year

Death Certificate - William Hedley Charlton
Death Certificate – William Hedley Charlton

At least once during his illness, his mother Margaret sent William to Whitby to convalesce. This letter was in Esther’s chest, it was sent to his mother from Whitby.

Letter from William Charlton to his mother (p1)
Letter from William Charlton to his mother (p1)
Letter from William Charlton to his mother (p2)
Letter from William Charlton to his mother (p2)

I have transcribed the letter but there are a couple of words that I can’t quite decipher.


Dear Mother

I received your most welcome, welcome letter. I am still in bed, my back is sore. This place is what I call a butter and bread shop, you get things very spareling ¬†here. I had my best dinner to day roast lamb. I am bad with the loose bowels I have twice made a bit of a mess. She *** like that. My meat is all cold when I get it. I have found fault***, but no change. I should have a different set away for 3 quit u what I am getting. So you can talk to Mrs Jackson about it, at 6 o’clock in the morning I get butter and bread and a tea warm up.

a small piece of bacon (drawn) and butter and bread at 9 o’clock dinner time 2 potatoes sad and back boiled meat. tea butter at 4 supper, bovril?¬†and a little cold fish. I think the bill if fare is not a very app**** one. So mother if you think I should stop another week I will and if not send Mary Ann on Monday and she will have to bring a cab with her she will get one at Tynemouth.

So dear Mother I will do what you say. I think I have no more to say Mother with my best love with my best love to you and Lizzie? Matron sent best respects.

I am your ever lovely son Willie

There is no date on the letter but the fact that he describes his loose bowels makes me suspect that it was in the final year of his life. It is an incredibly sad letter, especially as we now know that he was dying at the time of his writing it.