The story of Frederick Caldicott is one full of loss and separation, ultimately leading to a tragic end.
Frederick Caldicott was the eldest son of Joseph Caldicott and Caroline Connop in 1841 in Coventry. He was the younger brother of Joseph and Caroline’s two daughters, Emma and Caroline.
He grew up to become a printer, stationer and newsagent based at 33 Cross Cheaping, Coventry. He was a reputable member of Coventry society and served on the Grand Jury for the city twice. He was also nominated to stand for election of Councillor but was not successful in his bid.
At the age of 21 Frederick married Harriet Biggs, a ribbon weaver in 1863 in Coventry.
Less than two years later, Harriet gave birth to twin sons, George and William born in early 1865. Sadly the boys did not survive, probably only living days, or maybe even hours.
However, a year later the couple had another son, Frederick Connop Caldicott who was born at the beginning of 1866 in Coventry.
Frederick Connop Caldicott went on to follow in his father’s footsteps initially becoming a printer. However, he changed path and became a cycle manufacturer and by the end of his career was a baby carriage dealer.
He married Hannah Poeton in Coventry in 1890 and the couple went on to have three children, Frederick Walter Caldicott, Doris Ada Caldicott and Kenneth Edmund Caldicott. Hannah was the daughter of Josiah Poeton and Ann Barnes and her sister, Louisa had married the William Alfred Caldicott, brother of Frederick Connop’s father just a year earlier.
Hannah sadly died in 1907, aged just 41. Frederick Connop remarried 2 years later in Coventry in 1909 to Emma Bertha Palmer and the couple had one son, Allan Palmer Caldicott, born on 21 June 1914 in Coventry.
Frederick Connop died on 11th December 1929, aged 63, at Hatton Lunatic Hospital, near Warwick which was the also where his aunt, Caroline Caldicott died twenty years earlier.
On the 14th March 1868 Frederick and Harriet had their first daughter, Harriett Amelia Caldicott, born in Coventry.
Harriett went on to marry a congregational minister, David Barnett in April 1895 in Coventry and the couple moved near to Blackpool, Lancashire. They had just one daughter, Hilda Maud Barnett who was born in 1901. Harriett died on 14th November 1948 in Blackpool, aged 80.
In 1870 Frederick and Harriet gave birth to their second daughter, Ada Caroline Caldicott, in Coventry.
Ada Caroline Caldicott married Lewis Arthur Samuel Woodman, a hatter and hosier in Coventry in 1906. She assisted her husband in running his business and the couple had two children, Arthur Woodman, born in 1909 and Phyllis Woodman, born in 1910. Ada died on 7th May 1926 in Coventry, aged just 56.
Frederick and Harriet had a second son, Henry Edmund Caldicott on 4th October 1872 in Coventry.
Henry Edmund Caldicott became a printer like his father, and ran a successful business in Earlsdon, Coventry. He was also a Freemason at Stoneleigh Lodge and served as City Magistrate. He married late in life in Coventry in 1938, aged 65 to Ida Bertha Warden. Sadly their marriage was short as he died just 3 years later in Saint Andrews Hospital, Northampton on 29 December 1941, aged 69.
Frederick and Harriet had their 5th child, Thomas Caldicott in the middle of 1874, but sadly, like his twin brothers before him, he died shortly afterwards. However, this tragedy was to have a much greater effect on the family. Devastatingly, Harriet also died around the same time and it seems likely that this was either during or connected to the birth of Thomas.
Frederick needed a mother for his children and probably missed the close companionship of a wife. He married for the second time just a year after Harriet’s death in Coventry in 1875 to Elizabeth Turner.
Happily, Elizabeth also gave birth to twins on 22nd July 1879, and fortunately this time they survived. The twins were a girl and a boy, Maude Elizabeth Caldicott and James Percy Caldicott.
However, tragedy was to strike the family again. Just a year and a half later, in 1881 Elizabeth died, aged only 41, leaving her twin infants without a mother and Frederick as a widower for the second time in just seven years.
This inevitably became too much for Frederick to cope with and the needs of his children were clearly too great for him to handle. James Percy and his twin sister Maude Elizabeth were to be separated. James was adopted by the his uncle, Frederick’s brother, Joseph and his wife, Sarah nee Burbery.
However, later in 1881 Frederick married for the third time, to Annie Maria Seckerson. This may have seen strength and stability return to the family and, for a time, happiness.
Sadly, though in 1890 Annie Maria became ill with malignant liver disease. She went away from her home in Raglan Street, to spend some time with family in Stephen Street, declaring that the air was fresher there. She did see some improvement for a few weeks, but then, unfortunately became gravely ill again. She died on 22 May 1890.
All of this loss became too much for Frederick. It seems that he was unable to get over the grief of losing Anne Maria and this was made more profound by the fact that he had been unable to visit his wife in her illness due to being ill himself and not realising the severity of her condition.
After his wife’s death Frederick stayed with Ada Caroline, his daughter, but he was said to be very despondent and depressed. Just two weeks after losing Annie Maria he was discovered by Ada in one of her outhouses having cut his own throat. She quickly called for a doctor but there was nothing to be done as Frederick had died almost instantaneously. A note was found in his bedroom saying
It was cruel not to visit sooner my poor wife in her illness. I cannot bear it any longer. I was ill myself a fortnight. the doctor said when she went away there was not much the matter with her, and I expected her back in a few days.
The coroner at the inquest a couple of days later returned a verdict that “Deceased committed suicide while in a state of temporary insanity.” It seems that this final loss caused grief that was so overwhelming Frederick was unable to go on.
The responsibility of Harriett Amelia and Ada Caroline was to become much greater following their father’s death, leaving not only Maude for them to look after but his printing and news agents business as well. When Harriett and Ada took on the family business they were aged 22 and 20 respectively. Maude had become an orphan aged only 10.
Harriett continued to look after the business and her younger siblings for five years when she married. Ada became the head of the family at this point and ran the business until she married in 1906. It is likely that her brother, Henry Edmund took over the sole running of the business at this point.
Maude Elizabeth Caldicott married Maurice George Dadley, an accountant in Coventry in 1903. It is testament to her older brothers and sisters’ tenacity in the face of heartbreak and adversity that she married so well and is proof of how they kept their father’s business going continuing its reputation and success. When her half brother, Henry Edmund died in 1942 he left £50,679 15s. 8d. in his will to his wife, Ida Bertha a sizeable amount indeed, equivalent to nearly £1.5 million in today’s money, further proof of how they grew from their times of hardship.
The couple had one daughter, Winifred Maud Dadley, born in 1905. Maude Elizabeth sadly died young though, on 3rd January 1919, aged just 39, in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
But what became of her twin brother, James Percy Caldicott who had been adopted by his uncle?
Well he joined the Royal Navy on 7th June 1901, at the age of 21. He served on HMS Wildfire, but didn’t take to the seafaring life leaving less than a year later on 29 April 1902.
He then became a machinist toolmaker and a centre lathe turner.
He married late in life to Ethel Elizabeth Holmes in Coventry in 1944, aged 65. However, the couple are listed on the 1939 Register as a married couple so had been together for many years before they made it “official”!
James Percy died on 20 February 1953 in Coventry, aged 73.