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Capell Family - Local Business

Joseph Osborn Capell (1841 - 1911)
Sarah Capell (1839 - 1918)
Mary Osborn Capell (1873 - 1897)

Joseph was born in 1842 in Watford, Hertfordshire. He was born into a family of craftsmen - his father was a cabinet maker (as was his brother, George). Sarah (nee Claridge) was born in 1839 in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. She also came from a skilled family as her father, George, was a baker.

Joseph and Sarah married in St. Pancras Church, St. Pancras, London on 19 November 1867. In 1871 they’re living at 3 Cheapside, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. He’s listed as Joseph O. Capell, a cabinet maker and upholsterer.

Their daughter, Mary Osborn Capell, was born mid-1873 in Hemel Hempstead. The 'Osborn' in Joseph and Mary's names is the maiden name of his mother, Mary, who he presumably named his daughter after.

By June 1877 the family have moved to Tunbridge Wells. An advert in the Kent & Sussex Courier dated 15 June 1877 states that Joseph, trading as ‘Joseph Osborn Capell’, ‘begs respectfully to inform the Nobility, Gentry and Inhabitants of Tunbridge Wells and surrounding neighbourhood, that he has re-opened the above spacious premises with a well-selected stock of modern second-hand and new furniture of every description’.

The premises are listed as 74, New Parade, Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells. It’s also written that he has ‘large experience in both London and Country’ and he ‘employs experienced Workmen, especially for Fixing, Repairing, Polishing, and all kinds of Upholstery, and Cabinet Work’.

The 1881 census records Joseph (still an upholsterer) and Sarah living with their daughter, John Honour (a 17 year old upholsterer’s apprentice) and Ellen Martin (their 15 year old general servant).

A further advert in the Kent & Sussex Courier of 16 March 1887 announced Joseph’s ‘Genuine Annual Sale’ at the showroom (still 74 Calverley Road); suggesting he was trading there for at least 10 years.

The Electoral Registers for Tunbridge Wells record the family living in Calverley Road until 1890. The premises are described as a house and shop and ‘Osborn’ has gained an ‘e’ at the end.

By 1891 the family had moved to 1 Monson Road. They’re joined by Sarah’s father, George Claridge (a 72 year old widower from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire) and a boarder, Susan Johnson (listed as an ‘upholsteress’). John and Ellen are no longer listed.

A further advert in the Kent & Sussex Courier of 22 June 1894 announced a large delivery of carpets to his premises at 64 Calverley Road (currently Simmonds & Son) and Joseph describes himself as an ‘undertaker’ in addition to ‘upholsterer’ and ‘cabinet maker’.

Three years later, on 10 May 1897, Mary died at 13 Albert Terrace in Margate of Tuberculosis that she’d been suffering from for 15 months. Her father was present at her death. It’s unknown why she was in Margate; perhaps the family hoped that the sea air could ease her illness or potentially she was working there.

In 1901 Joseph and Sarah are still living at 1 Monson Road. Joseph’s cousin, 44 year old Sarah Hedges, lives with them and is recorded as a mothers help (domestic). Twenty year old Emily Pooley is their general servant.

By the time he’d written his Will in January 1906, the family had moved to ‘Cassiobury’, a 13 room house in Pell Green, Wadhurst, East Sussex (which has been subsequently renamed). Interestingly, ‘Cassiobury’ is a 250 acre park in Watford (where he was born).

In March 1906 Joseph placed a notice in the Kent & Sussex Courier stating that the partnership between him, Arthur Joseph Hedges and William Brooks who were ‘carrying on business in Co-partnership at 64 Calverley-road’ was dissolved as Arthur Hedges was retiring. The business was named ‘Capell and Co. Upholsterers, House Furnishers, Undertakers and Furniture Removers’.

Joseph died at Cassiobury on 1 April 1911 of Heart Disease. Now aged 69, he’s recorded as a retired cabinet maker and upholster. Sarah’s niece, Caroline Lilian Claridge, was present at his death.

His Estate was worth the equivalent of approximately £815,000 today and he owned 3 Leasehold properties in Tunbridge Wells (1, 3 and 5 Monson Road) which were to be given to his friend Henry Arnold Stone on Sarah’s death. William Brooks (his business partner) is living at 5 Monson Road.

After Joseph’s death, Sarah stayed in Wadhurst. Her niece, Caroline, was living with her as a companion and they had a 44 year old cook, Mary Ann Fountain. Sarah died at Cassiobury on 3 March 1918 aged 77 of Myocardial Degeneration and Heart Failure. Again, her niece was present at her death.

In her Will Sarah left Caroline £50 (approximately £3,000 today) and gave many cash gifts to other relatives. There’s also a reference to the Mission Hall, Monks Lane, Wadhurst. She bequeaths this (then known as the Pell Green Mission) to 2 local farmers, 2 local Ministers and her niece to ‘be used for religious purposes of an undenominational nature’.

Further research has shown that Joseph founded it in 1902 (it was later renamed Cousley Wood Free Church and has now been converted to a private house).

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