Samuel Carey Gordon (186? – 1917)

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Many questions were raised by the records of Alfred George Astridge and similarities to the future joining of the Wharton-Smith families, via Emma Violet Smith (1876-1929). Emma’s first husband, Samuel, appeared to be one of the critical pieces of the Wharton-Smith jigsaw. His burial record may offer further insight into the discrepancy of Emma’s age (stated as 37 on her marriage record to Clifford Smith, in reality she would have been 41 years of age).

The discovery of Samuel’s burial record raised more questions:


The Burial record revealed:

  1. Burial location: Agra Cathedral
  2. Name: Samuel Carey Gordon
  3. Death date: 18 January 1917
  4. Age: 56 1/2 years
  5. Nationality / Profession: School Master
  6. Burial date: 19 January 1917
  7. Cause of death: Cancer of the bowels
  8. Person whom buried: FR Colombo

The record confirmed that School Master Samuel Carey Gordon, aged 56 1/2 years, died on 18 January 1917 and was buried the following day at Agra Cathedral. The cause of death was cancer of the bowels.

A few common factors here with previous records of Samuel: (1) the burial location, Agra Cathedral, matched the recorded residence of Samuel and Violet Emma Astridge, (2) Samuel’s profession, School Master, is in line with the marriage record to Violet Emma Astridge, which stated he was a teacher, (3) the death date confirmed that Samuel was dead before the marriage of Violet Emma Gordon and Clifford Melville Smith – in which Violet is recorded as a widow. These factors offered support to this being the same Samuel Gordon who married Violet Emma Astridge.

But, two common issues present themselves again here.

First, is his name, Samuel Carey Gordon. On previous records his name was recorded as Samuel Gordon – with the ‘Carey’ missing. This may have been an oversight, but to be sure it requires checking. A quick scan for additional records between Samuel and Violet revealed that his name was indeed Samuel Carey Gordon. So, we know that the name is a match. These records will be presented through the Anglo-Indian Project soon – and currently confirm that Samuel and Violet had seven children (there may be more). The name issue presented itself with his wife, Emma Violet or Violet Emma, depending on which record is being viewed – a common theme throughout the British India Baptism, Marriage and Burial records.

Second, is Samuel’s age. This burial record states his age as 56 1/2 years, which puts his birth year at 1860. In contrast to this, his marriage record to Emma Violet Astridge stated his age as 32 in 1895, which puts his birth year at 1862/3. This could again be an oversight – perhaps there was no baptism record and his age was estimated. Perhaps, the marriage record to Violet Emma Astridge is incorrect. This could be a different Samuel Carey Gordon. We can’t say with certainty which is correct, but having checked other records of Samuel (previous marriage, baptisms of his children, marriage records of his children), it is highly likely that this is the same Samuel Carey Gordon. This also makes him another intriguing character, which fits the themes of his future offspring and eventual links to the Hassett and Wharton families – the recurring themes (such as the age discrepancies which indicate that ages were falsified in future documents), provide strength to confirming these records as the same individuals and valuable insight into future events – such as how did Edith Aileen Hassett meet Clifford Melville Smith? and why did there appear to be so much hostility between the Hassett and Wharton families?

We know about Samuel’s marriage to Violet Emma Astridge in 1895. In this record he was recorded as a widower, meaning he was married at least once before. Another marriage record for Samuel was located which revealed his marriage to Anne Cecilia Caroline Watts on 5 August 1881:


This marriage record further stated: 

  1. Marriage location: St. John’s Church, Calcutta
  2. Marriage date: 5 August 1881
  3. Names: Samuel Carey Gordon and Anne Cecilia Caroline Watts
  4. Ages: Samuel: 21, Anne: 17
  5. Condition: Samuel, bachelor; Anne, spinster
  6. Profession: School Master
  7. Residence: Samuel: Calcutta, Anne: Calcutta
  8. Father’s names: Carey Ward Gordon and Edward Rooke Watts
  9. By Banns or Licence: Licence
  10. Witnesses: E. R. Watts and H. T. Manuel 
  11. Ceremony performed by: J. Rawson, Chaplain St. John’s

Confirmation of the marriage at the St. John’s Church, Calcutta on 5 August 1881. Samuel, aged 21, is recorded as a bachelor, Anne, aged 17, as a spinster. Both resided in Calcutta, India, where Samuel is recorded as being a School Master. Father’s names are confirmed here as Carey Ward Gordon and Edward Rooke Watts, with witnesses to the marriage recorded as E. R. Watts and H. T. Manuel . As with previous marriage records presented, the witness signatures may provide some additional insight into the lives of Samuel and Emma Violet (were the witnesses friends? colleagues? neighbours? or just the nearest people they could drag in to sign the paperwork?) It may be difficult to find out, but could prove insightful (it does appear here that Anne’s father, Edward, was one of the witnesses). The ceremony was performed by J. Rawson, Chaplain St. John’s.

As previously discussed, there are some discrepancies with previous records of Samuel – mainly his age. The location of the wedding and residence of Samuel is also different to future records (Agra) – but, people can – and did – move to different locations.

There are many new lines of enquiry raised here, including a curious family link to ‘The White Mughals‘. More on this soon.

Cover picture credit: @whitemughalsfan 

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