A Family of Butcher’s The Butcher’s of Consett

Esther used her inheritance following the death of her mother to purchase a butcher’s shop for her husband Fred. It was on Newmarket Street, Consett.

Fred unfortunately was regularly drunk, and was unpredictable in his behaviour. One day enough was enough and Leslie and Bill ‘put their father out’. He was put into the Workhouse (later rescued by his sister).

Leslie was at the beginning of an apprenticeship with Consett Ironworks to become an electrician. When his father was thrown out, Esther made him give up the apprenticeship and forced him to run the butcher’s shop on Newmarket Street. He did well and became a master butcher – but it was not what he had wanted to do with his life.

The first butcher’s shop. It was on Newmarket Street, Consett. Bought by Esther for her husband Frederick.

She also bought a shop for her son Frederick William Caswell (Bill) on Watling Street, Leadgate.

Butcher’s shop on Watling Street, Leadgate. Bought by Esther for her son Frederick William (Bill) to run. In the picture he is stood with his sister May.


My mum recalls that when she went into her father Leslie’s shop on Newmarket Street, the window was on the left. But going into Uncle Bill’s the window was on the right! She also remembers how beautifully the meat was presented in the unrefridgerated window. Her father would carve the meat into pretty designs like flowers

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).



Margaretta Caswell 1908-1914

This beautiful little girl is Margaretta Caswell, she is the daughter of Esther Elizabeth Charlton and Frederick Henderson Caswell. She was born on the 2nd June 1908, in Villa Real Hospital, Leadgate, Co. Durham. Which seems quite unusual as most of her siblings are believed to have been born at home. A large portrait used to hang in the home of Esther – Balfour House, Medomsley Road, Consett – but alas it is no longer in the possession of the family.

She died on the 17th January 1914, my mum believes that the cause was diptheria, but she isn’t sure so I am going to have to investigate. Diptheria is an upper respiratory tract infection which typically affects the nose and throat. Today all of my children hve been vaccinated to help prevent them from contracting this devastating disease, but back in Margaretta’s time there was no such prevention available.

She was buried on the 21st January, 1914 in Medomsley churchyard, Consett. Esther had seven children in total (including a set of twins). Margaretta was the only one not to survive to adulthood.

This was her funeral card:

Margaretta Caswell

Within the chest is a tiny band of black ribbon with the initial ‘M’ threaded onto it. I have discovered that it is most likely an Edwardian mourning wrist band. I imagine that Esther had it made after the death of her precious daughter, so that she would always be with her.


Leslie Caswell (My grandfather and Esther’s third son)

This is a photograph of Leslie Caswell (b.1906), the third child of Esther Elizabeth Charlton and Frederick Caswell. He looks a little like ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’ doesn’t he?

In his butcher's garb

In his butcher’s garb

Family stories say that when he left school he got an apprenticeship to be an electrician at the Consett Iron Works.  However, his father Fred Caswell was regularly drunk. It became impossible to bring friends over, because they never knew how Fred would behave. One day Fred came home rather the worse for drink and Esther locked him out.  Bill and his brother Leslie helped ensure that Fred was put out of the house for good. He ended up at Lanchester Workhouse. This change in events meant that Fred was no longer running the butchers shop and reluctantly Leslie gave up his apprenticeship and took over the shop. That said he was a very good butcher and had the qualification of master butcher.


leslie caswell adult

He sadly died in 1973 in Consett, County Durham.