Francis Cable


The Cable Family – 1882 to 1891

Records show on the 1st November 1882 a warrant was issued against a 22 year old Milkman with the name of ‘Francis Cable‘. The following day, the 2nd November, he is taken into custody but bailed on the 4th. On the 6th November his name appears within a calendar of prisoners tried at the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace in Clerkenwell. On this day he appears before the Magistrate, T.I. Barstow, Esq. on the charge of ……

‘Receiving 54 quarts of milk, value 18s [18 shillings], well knowing the same have been stolen.

This charge, as recorded, was ‘Postponed to the next Sessions’.        

On the 24th November this man, of whom all the evidence suggests is Frank Cable, the subject of this narrative, appears again at the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace in front of the Magistrate, J.D.Fletcher Esq and a jury,  facing the same charge. This time there is no postponement.

It is recorded that the accused, Francis Cable, pleads ‘Guilty of Larceny and Receiving’ and is sentenced to ‘6 Calendar Months at the Cold Bath Fields Prison.

Coldbath Field TreadmillColdbath Fields Prison, was formerly known as the Middlesex House of Correction and Clerkenwell Gaol was a prison in the Mount Pleasant area of Clerkenwell, London.

Although founded during the reign of James I (1603–1625), the prison was completely rebuilt in 1794 and extended in 1850. It was originally a prison run by local magistrates and where most prisoners served short sentences. Coldbath Fields also served as a debtor’s prison.

It took its name from Cold Bath Spring, a medicinal spring discovered in 1697. There were separate blocks for felons, misdemeanants and vagrants.

Despite its aspirations to be a more humanitarian prison, it became notorious for its strict regime of silence and its use of the treadmill, as can be seen in the picture on the right.The prison closed in 1885 and the last sections were demolished in 1929. The site is now occupied by the Mount Pleasant Royal Mail sorting office.

Our story moves forward six years to the first three months of 1888 and we find a record of the death of a Sarah Cable, this is possibly Frank’s mother. However the entry puts her age at 74 which is not compatible with a birth year of 1818. If she was 74 years old when she died she would have been born in 1814. The death is recorded in the London district of Lambeth. I have another note, source unknown that she died in 1818 at the age of 69 years in Peckham (but Peckham may have been in the Lambeth district at that time)

A reminder at this point, as this whole narrative can be confusing – Frank’s mother was Sarah Collinson, her surname was from her marriage to John Collinson which occurred prior to her relationship with Frank’s father Henry. I say ‘relationship’ as we have no evidence of a marriage to Henry. Sarah’s maiden name was Husband and she was born on the 16th June 1818 in Soho, London.

Ten years previously, on the night of the 1881 Census, Frank Cable and his new wife Catherine were living apart. Catherine was in Southwark / Peckham, south of the River Thames, while Frank is living, at least on the night of the 1881 Census, over the river in Islington in North London. We do not know why they were apart; Frank’s employment may have necessitated the arrangement.

But as recorded in this 1891 Census they are again living together, on this occasion they are at 60 High Street in the parish of St John in West Hackney, London. As I mentioned, Catherine Sarah F. Cable, recorded as being aged 45 years, is with him. Her age in incorrect, she would be 50 years old in April 1891, the date of this Census.

The census records Frank’s ‘relationship’ with the Head of the household, who is a 26 year old man named as WALTER CHAPMAN FORD, as ‘father-in-law’. Walter’s wife is EMILY ELLEN FORD who is 23 years of age. Emily is therefore identified as Catherine Sarah F. Cable’s daughter who was recorded as ‘Emily Feltham’ aged 12 years on the 1881 Census taken ten years previously. Also in the house is JAMES FELTHAM, aged 19 years, Catherine’s son and there is also an 18 years old servant girl, Eliza Elrich in the house, who is apparently from Switzerland. However notably absence from this household is Frank & Catherine’s ten year old son – FRANCIS HARRY CABLE. The image of the Census below has been amended as it was originally over two pages.

Around 18 months after this Census records Frank living with his wife Catherine in West Hackney with his son-in-law, Frank bigamously marries Polly Shellaker in Grantham.

1891 - Walter Chapman Ford

1891 Census – Frank Cable with his wife Catherine in the home of his son-in-law Walter Chapman Ford

Location Name Relationship Condition Sex Age Profession Where Born
60 High Street Walter Chapman Ford Head Marr M 26 Dairy Manager Surrey, Cooling
Emily Ellen Ford Wife Marr F 23 Surrey,Battersea
Francis Huchand Cable Father In Law Marr M 51 Dairy Manager Surrey, Camberwell
Catherine Sarah F Cable Mother In Law Marr F 45 Middlesex,Pimlico
James Feltham Brother In Law Single M 19 Milk Carrier Surrey, Battersea
Eliza Elrich Servant Single F 18 General Servant Switzerland

As mentioned above, the young Francis Harry Cable not living with parents on the night of this Census. He can be found living over sixty miles away in Kent.

He is recorded as staying with his ‘uncle‘, William Feltham. However this is an inaccurate entry on the census as William Feltham is actually Francis Henry Cable’s half-brother; he is Catherine’s oldest son who was born in September 1862 who is now a 28 year old Carpenter and Joiner. Francis is recorded as being ‘Scholar‘. Also in the house are William’s wife, 24 year old Margaret and their three daughters, Ellen, Edith and Kate, aged four, three and one respectively, plus a 15 years old servant from Scotland. This family living in Kent at South View Villas, King’s Road, Herne Bay.

One can only speculate why the young Francis Harry was not with his parent at this time. Maybe its a short holiday on the coast for the lad or possibly there was no room to stay with his parents in the home of his half-sister Emily and her husband and family. He may have been in poor health and was given the opportunity to exchange the smells and grime of Victorian London with the fresh air of Kent coast or conceivably he had a better chance to attend a school in that area. Incidentally his place of birth is recorded as ‘New Inn‘, in Kent which is inconsistent with the Census of 1881 which states his birthplace was ‘Peckham‘.

1891 Census – Frank Cable’s son, Francis Harry Cable, with his ‘uncle’ in Kent.

Location Name Relationship Condition Sex Age Profession Where Born
King's Road, South View Villas William H Feltham Head Marr. M 28 Carpenter & Joiner Hampstead, London
Margaret A Feltham Wife Marr. F 28 Berkshire
Ellen M Feltham Daug F 4 Surrey
Edith E Feltham Daug F 3 Kent, Herne Bay
Kate Feltham F 1 Kent, Herne Bay
Francis Cable Nephew M 10 Scholar Kent, New Inn
Emma Pressley Servant F 15 Port Glasgow, Scotland

This census also finds Frank’s half-brother, Samuel J Cable, now 39 years old, living with his wife, Sarah aged 41, at 77 Rosemary Road, Camberwell with six of their children; William aged 17 years, Minnie aged 13 years, Beatrice aged 12 years, Samuel aged 10 years, Charlotte, aged 5 years and Leonard who is 3 years old.  Lillian, recorded in the Census ten years previously, is not listed – she would have been 16 years old. Samuel, as in 1881, has the occupation of Bootmaker but now his eldest son William has also started in the same trade.

EDWIN, Frank’s paternal half-brother is again recorded in the Census and as in 1871 and 1881 he remains at the Corporation Buildings in the St James area of Clerkenwell.

Location Name Relationship Condition Sex Age Profession Where Born
Corporation Buildings Edwin Cable Head Marr. M 52 House Painter Surrey, Bermondsey
Harriet M A Wife Marr. M 54 Middlesex, Bermondsey
William JCable Son Single. M 22 Clerk Middlesex, Bermondsey
Minnie C Cable Daug Single. F 19 Leather Case Maker Middlesex, Clerkenwell
Frederic T Cable Son Single. M 15 Errand Boy Middlesex, Clerkenwell
Sidney H Cable Son Single. M 12 Middlesex, Clerkenwell

From this time onwards there are no further records of a man named ‘Francis Cable’ – his life under that name ends. He become ‘Francis Brown’ and is next recorded as living in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

But in this narrative of the Cable Family continues……..

Next Page:Catherine moves to Kent with Frank’s son