The First Mystery

Some years ago, trawling through assorted papers at Essex Record Office, I found some papers and a letter written in June 1890 to JJ Green Esq of Stansted (in Essex) from JR Pendrigh of Anfield, Liverpool. The letter refers to some research about one Henry Croasdell whose marriage certificate was supposedly somewhere in Jamaica but could not be traced. The writer refers to details of the marriage being on a page which had been deliberately removed from the parish register. Similarly a page had been removed from the parish register of Brasted in Kent and this too "is supposed to have contained some valuable information about the Croasdell family". These events are judged to be highly suspicious and the writer has been advised to consult lawyers about establishing "our claim". Unfortunately there is also mention that the estate in question has already been claimed by someone else! Finally there is a query about the possibility of Henry Croasdell having married into a French family.

The other papers, seemingly an anonymous deposit, contain brief notes relating to the Croasdaile Family of Stansted Mountfitchet - as mentioned in The Scarlet Woman (click for story) - and there are references to people who died in Jamaica. One very intriguing note reads:

"To the Lovely Harriet Charlotte Croasdaile. Mr Croasdaile is never to be permitted to touch this book...."

What could this refer to? I'd love to know.

The Croasdailes of Essex were undoubtedly linked to the Irish branch of the family. Several members of this branch had connections with and property in Jamaica - as can be seen from various wills - but the pieces of the jigsaw have not yet been fitted all together. In 1826 a case in Chancery brought by a whole bevy of Croasdailes concerned the administration of the will of one Despard Croasdaile, whose brother Richard had recently died in Jamaica. So it looks as though someone, somewhere thought there was a a fortune waiting to be claimed. Perhaps it was The Rightful Heir who was sought by The Scarlet Woman (click for story)?

The Second Mystery

In the 1790s Richard Croasdell, Master Mariner, captained the ship "Benson" sailing regularly between its home port of Liverpool and Kingston Jamaica. The Benson family were slave traders but no record has been found so far of this ship trading on any African route. In 1796 the ship, which had been registered two years earlier returned to Liverpool with the following cargo


Richard Croasdell was a descendant of the Furness branch of the family and uncle to Edward who features in the story of Edward & Mrs Simpson (click for story). Richard's will was made in October 1800 and proved in Liverpool in November 1801 and his last voyage on the Benson ended in October 1799. No trace can be found of his death or burial. But a book of 1897 describes skirmishes which Richard, as Master of the Benson, became involved in with privateers off St Kitts in 1798, including action against a French corvette and chasing a French cutter. And a Spanish prize of £7,000 was taken by the Benson on a previous passage.

The questions are these. Was any link made between these two branches of the family whilst in Jamaica? Can the missing fortunes in Edwards & Mrs Simpson (click for story) and The Scarlet Woman (click for story) be one and the same? Does the possibility of ill-gotten gains from escapades with privateers and Spanish treasure play any part in the stories of missing fortunes. Or have a few straightforward facts been embroidered by different people in different ways to account for our current lack of family riches?!


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