The following story is constructed from the facts as we know them and as found in the evidence of parish registers, certificates, census details and army records. But there are lots of gaps - can you fill in any of these?

Isaac Croasdell was born in Liverpool towards the end of 1836 and baptised at St Peter's the following January. His father William Croasdell had been born in Furness but after spending his early working years as a husbandman, had moved to Liverpool where he worked as a coachman and later a warehousman. William had married Elizabeth Archer in 1831 in Liverpool and he died there in 1860.

According to the census, by 1851 Isaac had been apprenticed as a ship's cooper in the Merchant Navy, although no Apprenticeship records have been found.

In 1856 on April 14th Isaac joined the 98th Prince of Wales Regt of Foot as Private 4241 and his discharge papers show that in total he served 21 years 17 days. Of this, 13 years 10 months were spent in service abroad in the East Indies, W Indies and Mediterranean (Malta)


Wedding Certificate 1856

Shortly after he enlisted, however, Isaac married for the first time - on Aug 18th 1856, to Jane Hill, aged 20, at Liverpool St Bartholomews. The Marriage Certificate describes him as of full age, a bachelor, a soldier of Laurence St (Liverpool) - although his actual age was only 19. His father is shown as William Croasdell, warehouseman.

Not long after this, and there may have been a connection, he deserted - on March 3rd 1857. He didn't get far, however, and was found in April when he was Court Martialled and sentenced to 56 days hard labour and stoppages. After this things seem to have quietened down and he served in India on the NW Frontier and was awarded a medal and clasp for services. In 1866 he re-engaged at Delhi for a further 11 years.

Nothing more has been found of Jane Hill or of any children they may have had.

Wedding Certificate 1870
In 1870 Isaac was in barracks at Newcastle on Tyne, from where, on March 4th he married Jane Ann Dudley at St Joseph's RC Church in Gateshead. She was described as aged 21 and he as aged 28 (real age 33) and a bachelor. But his father is again shown as William Croasdell (deceased) warehouseman.

In March 1871 Isaac was imprisoned for 4 days, reason unknown, and in April his son John was born at High Bridge, Newcastle. The birth certificate describes Isaac as a Private of the 98th Foot and John's mother as Jane Ann Croasdell, formerly Dudley.

What happened next is not entirely clear. In 1876 a child registered as Henry John Armstrong was born, the illegitimate son of Isabella Armstrong, Cotton Winder of Francisco Street, Manchester. Five years later in 1881 John H and Bella appear in the census at 104 Tame St, Ancoats, Manchester as the son and wife of Isaac Croasdell, described as a labourer, aged 40 born in Liverpool.

No reference has been found in the 1881 census of either Jane Ann (Dudley) or her son John.

Isaac left the army in 1877 at his own request, stating that his onward destination was Bolton (not far from Manchester) His character & conduct were described as "Good" and he had 2 good conduct badges - despite the fact that his name had appeared in the Regimental defaulters book 14 times! His occupation on discharge was a cooper - the job he had been apprenticed for in Merchant Navy.


Wedding Certificate 1883

In 1883 Isaac married Isabella Armstrong in Manchester and supposedly made an honest woman of her! Again he described himself as a bachelor, aged 42 (actually 46) and gave his father as William Croasdell warehouseman (deceased)

By 1888 Jane Ann (Dudley) re-appeared when, aged 38, and described as a Widow, she married Michael Kelly at Newcastle Register Office. (There is no such Kelly family in the 1881 census in the area and they have not yet been found in 1891)

It is not until 1896 when there is evidence of any one of Isaac's three wives dying. Isabella Croasdell aged 40 is shown on the Death Certificate as having succumbed to the effects of excessive drinking when she died at 41 Mark Lane, Chorlton on Medlock. An inquest was held on 10th Sept 1896.

Four years later in August 1900 Isaac himself died, aged 55, from valvular disease and dropsy . He was living at 111 Tipping Street, Ardwick, Chorlton and was actually 63. He was described as a Laborer (sic) at cotton mill and the informant was a fellow occupant of the same lodging house - presumably the age was more guesswork than anything else.

No further evidence has been found concerning John Henry although he may have reverted to the name Armstrong. Isaac's other known son, John, doesn't re-appear until 1919 when he married Eunice Bell at Newcastle Register Office. This was at least his second marriage as both parties were described as widowed. Strangely John, a Corporation labourer described his father as Isaac Bell Croasdell, a colour sergeant in the Northumberland Fusiliers. But no doubt he had known little of his father during his life and could be excused for embroidering the facts a little.

So - there are lots of loose ends to tie up here - and any information would be gratefully received. So far further searches of Isaac's army records haven't produced any more details. It would be good to find out what happened to Jane Hill and where Jane Ann Dudley and son John disappeared to between 1871 and 1883.


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