Old railway carriages as homes in Caldecote

Railway carriages

Railway carriages

Many of the early occupants of Highfields lived in old railway carriages. Some such as the shop (by what is now Uniplum) were old Pullman coaches. Others were the more old everyday type coaches such as those in the photos here. They were extremely well built made of good quality wood such as teak and mahogany. The ones in the picture here though are still on a railway and are awaiting restauration back to their original form.

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The Cole Family Graves

The Coles were important farmers in the region. We know that in 1715 a William Cole was buried in Caldecote. He died in July aged 53. Mary, his wife died in 1731. Another Mary Cole is recorded as being buried in 1736. On 19 February 1701 John their son William was buried and on 11 October 1723 Robert another son was buried.

4-12 one of the listed graves 20 jan 2009

One of the listed Graves in Caldecote Craveyard

One of the listed gravestones was erected in memory of Elizabeth Black the wife of Simon D. Cole. She died in March 1734 aged 36 years. Three of her children, Eliza, Simon and Elizabeth are buried beside her.  Elizabeth their daughter was born but never baptised before she died in 1732 not a year old.

Another Elizabeth Cole was buried in 1731. That same year Robert Cole died aged 37.

Because families have the habit of naming their children after either their parents or their grandparents, trying to sort out which child is related to whom can be difficult.

We come across this problem with Simon and Elizabeth Cole. When looking at the records we find another couple with the same names, who also had a daughter named Elizabeth. However, with regard to the Cole family, we learn that sadly their daughter (also called Elizabeth after her mother) died and was buried on 7 April 1740. Equally tragic was the fact that her mother also died shortly afterwards and was buried on 17 April the same year.

Simon then married a Mary. They had a daughter, again called Elizabeth, who was baptised on 13 September 1750 and died June 1753 aged 3. This is one of the listed graves. She had a sister born 29 October 1751.

In 1745 on Sept 8 James the infant son of James and Ann Cole died.  Ann herself died on 24 January 1750.

On 18 October 1753 Hannah the wife of William Cole died.

In 1761, Simon Cole was buried aged 61 years. This is another listed grave.

William Cole, the husband of Ester Cole, died 31 March 1761 aged 46. This could be the same William who was married to Hannah and then remarried.

Another William Cole listed as from of Caxton was buried in 1764. It is equally possible that this was the William Cole married to Hannah.

The problem in tracing all the details is that entries in the records are often quite sparse. To make matters worse, with Caldecote being as small as it was, it is difficult to trace all of the details available. People married partners from other nearby villages and not in Caldecote. Often they were buried elsewhere.

A classic case of this was James Butler who was a major local landowner. We will meet him in the chapter on housing. As with many families, the same given names were also given to the succeeding generations. To make matters worse, with the high death rate, the same name was often given to a baby whose elder sibling had died as a child.

On 1 April 1782, Simon Cole married Mary of Kingston in Caldecote. Mary Thurley, William Hart and Sarah Cole were witnesses.

The next day Sarah married Joseph Tharp (Or Thorpe) of Holywell. Her witnesses were Ann Cole, Robert Mayes, Martha Angier and William Cole.  Ann and William were I suspect siblings.

On 3 November 1778, with the consent of her mother, Elizabeth Cole, listed as a spinster of Caldecote, married Francis Sole of Oakington. Ann Cole and H. Humphreys were the witnesses. We know that a Francis Sole had land in Kingston.  It would be logical to think it is the same man. (See below and the chapter on housing).

On 21 February 1779 the Soles had a daughter, baptised privately and named Elizabeth. She was followed by Sarah, baptised 13 December 1784, and Martha on 1 April 1787. William was baptised on 19 August 1804. He later moved to St Neots but was buried in Caldecote in 1856 aged 52.

On 27 February 1779 Jephthal Cole was born. A Mary was his mother. He could have been born to the Mary who died in 1818. The relation to the above Coles is not clear.

On 4 November 1782, Ann Cole married Thomas Main of Gamlingay, with Elizabeth Sole and William Careless as witnesses.

Mary Cole died on 20 June 1797 aged 73. She was listed as a widow at death. She must have been born in 1724. This is one of the listed graves. From other information received, we now know that she either owned or let the Manor Farm. This was up for let in 1782 and it was mentioned that the Coles had occupied the farm for 40 years. However, as we know of two Mary Coles alive at this time we cannot be completely certain. One of them had found herself in trouble as the entry in the Cambridge Chronicle on 28 May 1768 attests:

Whereas we Richard Papworth and Mary Cole, widow both of Caldecote in the County of Cambridge, having falsely and scandalously defamed the Rev. Mr Murrhall, to the prejudice of his character, we the aforesaid persons, on the account of the said Rev. Mr Murrhall’s dropping his intended prosecutions at law, out of compassion to our families do hereby declare the defamatory aspersions to be entirely false and groundless and therefore do publicly and sincerely ask pardon for our calumny and injurious treatment and  do faithfully promise never to offend him any more, contrary to law. Witness John Smith.

In 1805 in Bourn Thomas Cole, a bachelor of Bourn married Mary Sibley.

A Simon Cole died on 14 July 1812 aged 50. He had come from Swavesey.

A Mary Cole was buried on November 3, 1818 aged 68. She must have been born in 1750.

In January 1815, Francis Sole borrowed £150 from William Nash by way of mortgage using three acres of land in Caldecote and eight in Kingston as security. William Nash as we learn in the chapter on housing was the Steward of the Earl of Hardwick. This was land purchased from John and Elizabeth Mortlock in 1796 with Simon Cole of Kingston Wood. As Simon had recently died, Francis was the sole owner.

Francis Sole is listed as of the parish of Caldecote when buried in 1815 aged 66. (Thus, he was born in 1749). The dates tie up so, having married into the Cole family, he looks to have settled in the village. There were other Soles here too who were no doubt relations. The Soles have elaborate graves in the graveyard.

The Old Rectory, which consists of a house, an outbuilding and a 17th century cottage, lying just north of the rectory are the other listed ecclesiastic buildings.  We will come across these in the later chapter on housing.

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