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(How King Henry the second is my 24 x great grandfather and Prince Charles is my 17th cousin!)

Part One

When I first started searching my Parsons family tree over thirty years ago now, I could not find great grandad Newton Parson’s father.  I spent ages searching the heavy tomes in St Catherine’s house in London. ( How much easier it is now to access records with the internet!)

I checked all possible years without success and so I gave up on the Parsons’ line for a while and searched another more fruitful line.

But then one day I had a stroke of luck, and this is why it is so important to ask relatives about family trees before starting your tree and before it’s too late.

My great uncle Reg Parsons was still alive at the time and when my Aunt Ena told him I was looking into the Parsons tree and wondered if he could help he said to her, ‘we’re not Parsons we’re Caplins.’  She had no idea what he meant and nor did I until a few months later when I thought I’d try to look for my missing Parsons ancestor again.

I was looking at the IGI index for Parsons in Surrey and I suddenly noticed the baptism of a Peter Parsons Capon in 1814 in Charlwood to a Samuel Parsons and an Ann Capon.  Hmm I thought Capon sounds a lot like Caplin. Could this be the Parsons connection I am looking for?

On further investigation I discovered another ten children christened under the surname ‘Parsons Capon’ to a Samuel and Ann.

I then checked the original parish register for Charlwood and realised that Peter Parsons Capon was my great great grandad, Newton’s father.



Great Grandad Newton Parsons 1859-1919 and Great Gran Phillis nee Sayers 1858-1945 on right of photo.






He was born in 1826 in Charlwood.  His father Samuel Parsons had in fact married an Elizabeth Bacon Dobson in 1810 but a few years later was having children with Ann Capon, hence they were all christened under the surname ‘Parsons Capon.’

Samuel Parsons never divorced Elizabeth. I don’t know why, perhaps she refused on religious grounds. I found her on the 1841 census living in Reigate with her sister in law, Elizabeth Poppey.

Sadly Ann Capon died aged just forty years in 1833. Samuel was left to bring up the children on his own. He was quite a wealthy farmer and on the 1851 census was living at Amberley Farm, Charlwood with various servants. He never remarried but interestingly was recorded on the 41 and 51 census as still married.  It was not until 1861 that he was recorded as a widower.  I think Elizabeth must have therefore died sometime between 51 and 61.

It is through the Ann Capon line that I am connected to royalty.

Ann’s great grandmother was a Hannah Caryll born in Rusper in 1701. The Carylls were an old important land owning family in Sussex. They originally came from Ireland in the 1400’s when the surname was O’Caroll  (this could explain some of the 19% Irish DNA that I have!)  Besides Rusper, they settled in places such as Harting, Warnham and West Grinstead.

They were devout Catholics and supporters of the old religion. They often gave shelter to priests, hiding them in the priest holes in their houses. Priests often disguised themselves as servants so that they could secretly carry out the mass. One of these Caryll residencies was Warnham Place. The Carylls were the squires of Warnham for over 150 years and built up great wealth from the iron industry. The Caryll chapel was built in St Margaret’s Church  in Warnham by John Caryll in about 1480 and dedicated to his wife Margaret.

Hannah Caryll married John Capon in 1722.  Her grandfather was Philip Caryll ( 1642-1688) who married Margaret Erle.

Philip Caryll’s mother was Catherine Petrie whose mother was Katherine Somerset.

Katherine, and her sister Elizabeth, were maids of honour to Queen Elizabeth 1st.

She married William Petre, (2nd Baron Petre) in 1596 at Essex House. Her sister Elizabeth also married at the same time. The poet Edmund Spenser wrote his Prothalamion for this special occasion. You can imagine my delight on hearing the poetry connection as I am a poet myself!

More later in part two!