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Stephen Berwick Allen Cavell

Jews Harp Alley, Deal
199/200 Lower Street, Deal
7 Nelson Street, Deal
11 Orange Street, Canterbury
Artillery Street, Canterbury

Occupation: House Painter

Stephen Berwick Allen Cavell was born in Jew’s Harp Alley, in Deal, to Henry and Ann Cavell, nee Brown. He was baptised at St. Leonard’s Church on 29th January 1815. His two middle names were the maiden names of, firstly, his father’s mother, and, secondly, his father’s third wife, who must have raised Henry. Stephen was one of four children born to the couple together with Mary Ann (1805-1825), John Brown Cavell (1808-1852) and Josephus Cavell (1817-1834).  

Stephen’s paternal grandfather was John Cavell (1758–1824), landlord of The New Inn, Lower Street, Deal for 27 years. 

In 1840 Stephen married Ann Phillis, from the village of Sholden, where her father, William was a Labourer, in the Parish Church of St Leonard’s. Ann’s sister and brother-in-law were the witnesses. 

In Pigot’s Directory for that year, Stephen is listed under Plumbers, Painters, and Glaziers. On Census forms he usually gives his occupation as ‘Painter.’  His address is 199, Lower Street. By 1841 this changed to 200, Lower Street. The two properties are situated on the corner of Lower and the then Jews Harp Alley which is now South Court, and were both owned by his father, Henry Cavell. The smaller of the two properties seems to have been used as a builder’s store. 

In 1841, his first son, Edwin, was born and baptised in St Leonard’s Church. Edwin is followed by Henry in 1842, Alfred 1843, Emma 1846, George 1849, and Matilda in 1852. 

The 1851 census tells us the family had remained living at 199/200 Lower Street and Stephen’s occupation is now as a Master Painter. There is nothing from any of the details given above to suggest Stephen and Ann are anything other than a happily married couple, thriving and caring for their children. 

A discovery we made, on one of our visits to the Maidstone Archives, told us a different story. We sourced an Accounts Book kept by Painter and Plumber, Henry Cavell. At first glance it seemed to be nothing more than a list of estimates for work completed by Henry on a variety of houses in Deal. It then contained a list of properties and leases of properties owned by Henry. Written in 1831, in the last pages of this book, we discovered a draft of Henry’s will written in 1831. It was this entry that inspired us to investigate Stephen Berwick Allen Cavell’s life.  

On further investigation we discovered other entries with Henry documenting that his will was not to be contested. He lays out exactly how he wishes his estate to be distributed and explains to his son, Stephen, that he is only leaving him a few shillings a week from the house rentals to ‘keep you from the Parish or Union House’. Henry continues, ”…I should not be so particular but given you are a very ungrateful son, no husband to your wife and no father to your children…” Henry’s previous opinion of his son is borne out by a note that he is “tired” of trying to recoup Stephen’s debts to him. At Families of Deal and Walmer, we love a bad boy so we dug a little deeper.

Henry’s last will and testament was eventually drawn up by a solicitor and witnessed on 15th May 1848. Stephen was to receive the same inheritance as his older brother. Mary and Josephus had both died young which left John and Stephen as Henry’s two surviving children.

In January 1852 Stephen’s older brother, John Brown Cavell died. In February of this year Henry returns to his solicitor and has him draw-up the second codicil to his will. As his son John Brown is now ‘lately dead’ his annual £50 legacy is to go to John’s widow. The Third codicil is also drawn up on this date. In his original will Henry has instructed his Executors to sell his properties, of which there are many, invest the profits in their names and divide the profits equally between his sons. As John is now deceased the money from the Investments and Trusts are to go to Stephen and to provide John’s widow with her £50 annual income. We have no way of knowing how much the investments would produce for him. 

In 1853 Henry once again uses his accounts book to pen a long lecture on inebriety aimed at his son. It seems likely this was a sermon Henry had heard in church and acquired a copy. Perhaps he wrote it in letter form and sent it to his wayward son ever hopeful he would change his ways and become a reformed character? Unfortunately, it seems that Stephen remained a drunkard, with most of his earnings lining the pockets of the local landlords. 

Henry died after a long illness and was buried in Hamilton Road Cemetery on 31 May 1856. 

South Eastern Gazette – Tuesday 10 June 1856


East Kent Times – Saturday 24 December 1859

Despite his life of drunken revelry, Stephen seems to have had political ambitions and had several failed attempts at being elected to the town council. It is possible that Stephen had secured a place on the council during the late 1850’s, as it was reported in the newspaper on December 27th that Stephen went to the Police to complain that when he attended a service, in St George’s Chapel, he took his place in the Corporation pew as a member of the Deal council but was then forcibly removed, under instruction of the Mayor, by PC Parker. The Council declared that Mr. Cavell had only sat in that particular pew to annoy them. What had gone on between Stephen and the council is unknown. We can only guess that maybe the Council did not approve of Stephen’s drunken behaviour and his cavalier attitude towards his wife and children. But in  1862 he was nominated by Mr. T. Minter but failed to poll any votes


Throughout 1861 the Kent Gazette runs reports of him being brought before the magistrate in Deal, charged with failing to pay 8 shillings ‘poor rate’ to his wife. Stephen says he does possess the money with which to pay the debt but would “…have a holiday in Sandwich gaol rather than pay it…”. He argues that the rate he was summoned for on February 1st was not put on the Poor Book, in his name, until 13th February and so the original summons is not legal. In his defence he also claims that he had given ‘Public Notice in the usual way that he would not hold himself liable for any debts contracted by his wife’, presumably an announcement in the local newspaper.

South Eastern Gazette – Tuesday 19 February 1861

The court meets at regular intervals to try and settle the case and each meeting is reported in the newspaper. Ann says she is a married woman with six children but because of “…the cruel usage and neglect of her husband…” she has been compelled to leave him. She explains the couple are no longer living together and she would not return to her home as her husband is violent towards her. Ann informs the magistrates that one of her children suffers from rheumatic fever and she has been unable to work. She tells the Overseers how she returned to her house one rainy evening, with the children, to find Stephen had thrown all their bedding into the road where it became soaked. She also informs the committee that her husband is now living with another woman. It is reported the magistrate listened to her testimony with great sympathy and the judgement was made that as they are not divorced Stephen is liable for his wife’s debts and will be made to pay. 

The 1861 census tells us that Stephen is now living in one of his late father’s properties, in Nelson Street, and Ann resides with her children in Duke Street.  Between 1863 and 1865, Stephen continued to live at 7, Nelson Street but it seems by 1867 he had decided to leave Deal and continue his trade as a painter in Faversham. He is a lodger at the Anchor Inn, Abbey Street. Possibly not the best place for him to be living!  

He never stays anywhere very long, seemingly becoming itinerant. In 1868, he is to be found living at 11, Orange Street in Canterbury and by 1871, he is boarding in another public house in Artillery Street, Canterbury.

Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers’ Gazette – Saturday 12 October 1872

In October 1872 Stephen’s, name at least, was again subject to a discussion in court. It appears that he had voted but his vote was objected to.In October 1872 Stephen’s, name at least, was again subject to a discussion in court. It appears that he had voted but his vote was objected to. At this time the law stated you were allowed to vote at the local elections if you were either a tenant of, or owned property, costing more than £10 a year. It seems Stephen broke the law when he declared he was left a property in Deal by his father in his will and therefore had the right to Vote and be elected to the council. Members were aware that the said property had been sold by the executors of the will and Stephen’s case was dismissed. It is also worth noting that he was not in court to defend himself as he was in Sandwich gaol having been arrested and charged for being drunk and disorderly in Deal.

Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald – Saturday 12 October 1872

 Perhaps spending time doing hard labour,along with his drinking contributed to his early death. Stephen died on  26th December 1872, aged 57,  in Canterbury. Some unknown person pays to have his death placed in the Public Announcements of the local paper.

Name Born Baptised Married Died Buried
Stephen Berwick Allen Cavell 1815
Jews Harp Alley
29 January 1815
St. George’s
Ann Phillis
22 March 1840
St. Leonard’s
Birth 1810
Death 24 October 1876
26 December 1872

The Children of Stephen B A Cavell & Ann Phillis

Name Born Baptised Married Died Buried
Edwin 1840 15 November 1840
St. Leonard’s
3 February 1878
Henry 1842 23 February 1842
St. George’s
Maria Bayley
1 December 1864
St. George’s Ramsgate
Brompton Hospital, Chelsea London
Margate District
Alfred 1843 19 July 1843
St. George’s
Helen Jane Price
Eastry District
12 Middle Street
11 June 1874
Hamilton Road Cemetery
Emma 1846 2 August 1846
St. George’s
Middle Street
28 December 1865
Hamilton Road Cemetery
George 1849 15 April 1849
St. Leonard’s
Ann Jarvis
29 December 1902
St. Mary the Virgin, Ashford
Matilda 1852 5 March 1852
St. Leonard’s
Warner J Knowles
8 December 1872
St. George’s, Ramsgate


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1841 Lower Street Stephen Cavell Head Painter
Ann Cavell Wife
Edwin Edwin


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1851 200 Lower Street Stephen B A Cavell Head Master Painter
Ann Wife
Edwin Son
Henry Son
Alfred Son
Emma Daughter
George Son


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1861 7 Nelson Street Stephen B A Cavell Head Painter


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1871 Good Intent, Artillery Street, Canterbury Stephen B A Cavell Lodger annuitant

Trade and Street Directory

Directory and Year Trade or Occupation Address
1840 Pigot’s Painter 199 Lower Street
1847 Bagshaw’s Painter 200 Lower Street
1855 Various English Counties Painter 199 Lower Street
Sources and further reading:
Kent Archives and Local History Centre.
Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved.
With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive (
The Old Pubs of Deal and Walmer by Steve Glover and  Michael Rogers.