10 Gwydir Street (2016)
10 Gwydir Street (2016)

Charles Cave (1857‒1928)
Charles was born in the fourth quarter of  1857 in the town of either March or St Ives, Cambridgeshire, the son of Charles Cave and his wife Martha (née Whittlesea), and was baptized on 14 November at the parish church of St Wendreda, March.  At a time prior to his third birthday, Charles’s parents moved from March to Cambridge, where his father worked as a carpenter and joiner; and the 1861 census lists the family as living at 2 Princes Street (between Coronation Street and Union Road, in the New Town area, now entirely demolished) with their children Watson (9), Emma (5), Charles (3), all in school, and Ann (1).  By 1871 they were living at 10 Gwydir Street (Petersfield), and also in 1881 with an additional daughter, Elizabeth (4).

In 1879, at the age of 21, Charles joined the army.  In all, he served for just under twenty-three years, rising from the rank of private to that of Warrant Officer ‒ the most senior non-commisioned rank and a figure of central importance to a regiment.  In that time he served at home and also in Egypt, Sudan, Cyprus, Ireland, India and Pakistan, seeing battle on many occasions.

On 30 June 1879, he attested to (i.e. swore an oath to serve) the Scots Guards, and was assigned regimental number 2935.  At that time his physical description was: 5 feet 8½ inches tall, fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair.   Charles’s military service record shows that he was in England for the first three years, during which period he was promoted to Lance Corporal and then Corporal (30 June and 31 December 1881).  He was then posted to Egypt on 30 July 1882, where he served until 14 November (108 days), during which period the 1st Battalion Scots Guards was active in suppressing the revolt of Arabi Pasha and fighting in the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir.  After two-and-a-half years back in England, during which he was promoted to sergeant, he served in Egypt and Sudan from 21 February to 8 July 1885 (134 days), and was involved in the battles of Hashin and Tofrek, and subsequently 64 days in Cyprus.  Thereafter he was in England for ten years, 1885‒95, where in November 1888 he received promotion from sergeant instructor of musketry to that of the highly prestigious colour sergeant.

By this time, he had received several awards: the Medal for Egypt 1882, the clasp for Tel-el-Kebir [1882] and Suakin 1885, the Khedives Bronze Star, and a good conduct and long service medal 1885.

Charles married Ada Childs on 20 March 1889 at Christ Church St. Margaret, in the London registration district of St George Hanover Square.  The first confirmed child for Charles and Ada was Charles Watson Cave, born in 27 November and baptized 11 December 1889, while Charles and Ada were still living in the parish where they had been married.

At about this time, Charles joined the 62nd Wiltshire Regiment.  Below is a record of the Wiltshire Regiment’s deployments, with matches to known birth locations of Charles and Ada Cave’s children highlighted:

1887         Ireland: Athlone
1890        Curragh [Co. Kildare, Ireland]
1893        England: Aldershot [Hampshire]
1895        India: Karachi [modern Pakistan]
1898        Quetta
[modern Pakistan]
1901         Cherat [modern Pakistan]

The births and baptisms of a number of the children of Charles and Ada correspond with the regiment’s deployment.  Twins Arthur Cecil Winifred and Malcolm Ethelbert were born on 27 or 28 September 1891 at Curragh Camp, Co. Kildare.  Arthur Cecil Winifred’s baptism was conducted by the army chaplain on 25 November 1891.  (In later records, Arthur believed that he was born in Quetta, India.)  Malcolm Ethelbert died in Camberwell, Surrey in 1911, aged 19, and was buried in the parish area of St Andrew the Great in Mill Road Cemetery, Cambridge on 30 March of that year.  The next child, Albert, was born in the fourth quarter of 1892.  His birth was also registered in the District of Naas, Ireland, indicating that Charles Cave was still stationed at the Curragh Barracks.  Albert died in Cambridge in 1910 aged 17, and was buried in the parish area of St Andrew the Great in Mill Road Cemetery on 21 April.

By 1893 the regiment had been posted to Aldershot, most likely for overseas military deployment.  May Whittlesea Cave was baptized on 15 November 1893 in Aldershot.  (Aldershot Garrison was known as the ‛Home of the British Army’ (see illustration), a connection which led to its rapid growth from a small village to a Victorian town.)


Charles Cave with unit in Quetta 1899
Charles Cave (left) with unit in Quetta 1899

On 14 November 1895, Charles was deployed with the 1st Battalion the 62nd Wiltshire Regiment to Karachi, India (= Pakistan since partition).  Twins Cecilia Constance and Sidney Oliver were born in Karachi in 1896; they died five months later.  Next to be born was Henry Walter Cave in 1897 (see above).  The regiment moved from Karachi to Quetta, where Alfred Ernest was born on 26 December 1898 and baptized on 17 December 1899.  Following that, Emily Amelia was born on 9 February 1901 and baptized on 14 March, in Quetta.  The Wiltshire Regiment’s memorial at Quetta reads:

     1st Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment. Sacred to the memory of the following non-commissioned officers, men, women and children who died during the stay of the regiment in Quetta 1895 to 1900 [followed by the names of 71 soldiers who died]

Wilts Regt in Quetta (1899) -- Charles seated 4th from left
Wilts Regt in Quetta (1899) — Charles seated 4th from left

Charles, now holding the rank of Warrant Officer, returned to England on 3 May 1901.  In all, Charles had served in India and Pakistan (the “East Indies”) for 5 years and 229 days.  His military service appears to have ended on 26 May of that year, when he received his discharge after 21 years and 336 days.

The next child of Charles and Ada was Percival George (“Percy”), born 19 March 1903 in Cambridge.  It is possible that another child was born there in 1905, for the next surviving child was Ida Muriel (or Muriel Ida), born 23 July 1907 (see illustration).

The 1911 England census records that Charles Cave, 53 years old, retired army Warrant Officer, was now working as a clerical assistant in the Cambridge University Engineering laboratory.  He was also involved in the Cambridge University Engineering Aeronautical Society.    He and Ada (44) lived at 29 Abbey Road, with May Whittlesea (17), Henry Walter (13), Alfred Ernest (12), Emily Amelia (10), Percival George (8) and Muriel Ida (3).

Charles Cave died on 28 January 1928, aged 70.  He was buried on 2 February in the grave that he had commissioned for his son Henry Walter in 1914 and his wife a year later in 1915, in the parish area of St Andrew the Great in Mill Road Cemetery, Cambridge.  His funeral took place at the Wesley Methodist Church, corner of King Street and Short Street (See report of his funeral).  The probate of Charles’s will was approved on 3 April to Sidney George Rule, a pattern maker instructor, and his brother Arthur Frederick Rule, printer, friends of the family.  His personal effects were valued at £902 9s 1d.

The house at 29 Abbey Road continued to be the home of the Cave family for some time thereafter.  The Cambridge street directory for 1935/36 records the head of house as “Cave, Miss”.

Charles & Ada Cave headstone
Charles & Ada Cave headstone


Lat Lon : 52.202977, 0.13643528 – click here for location

Parish : St Andrew the Great

See family grave page for more information







Sources :
England Census reports 1861‒1911
England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837‒2008 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:26GB-LXL)
Church of St Andrew the Great, Cambridge, burial register, grave book
St Wendreda Church, March, Cambridgeshire, baptismal register
62nd Wiltshire Regiment deployment:  http://web.archive.org/web/20071218192423/www.regiments.org/deploy/uk/reg-inf/062-1.htm
Wiltshire Regiment memorial at Quetta: http://www.angelfire.com/mp/memorials/wiltsrmr.htm
British Battles http://www.britishbattles.com/egypt-1882/abu-klea.htm
Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records (WO97)
Cambridge Independent Press, 19 March 1915, p. 6 (Ada’s funeral report)
Cambridge Daily News, 3 February 1928 (Charles’s funeral report)
Documents and research kindly supplied by Glennis Willmer (descendant)

By Keith Rees and Ian Bent

Charles Cave