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The Casamajor family of Potterells, North Mymms

The family name Casamajor 


Painting of Mrs. Justinian Casamajor and eight of her children by British artist Daniel Gardner, 1750–1805 Image from the Yale Center for British Art
Mrs. Justinian Casamajor and eight of her children
Painted in 1779 by British artist Daniel Gardner, 1750–1805
Image from the Yale Center for British Art

The following information is based on an article in "Hertfordshire's Past" which in turn was sourced from the Wills of Charles De Laet and Justinian Casamajor.

The cousins, Charles De Laet and Catherine Bell inherited Potterells in the parish of North Mymms. Unfortunately the house no longer exists. Catherine died in 1769 and Charles died in 1792 without issue and left his property in Hertfordshire and Middlesex to his friend, Justinian Casamajor, of High Cannons in the neighbouring parish of Shenley and to Justinian’s third son, William Charles Casamajor, who was their godchild.

The Casamajors were a family of Spanish origin, claiming descent from the royal house of Cadiz. They had settled in Bristol and founded the English branch of the family by the late 18th century. There were Casamajors also in London and they were working for the East India Company and the Casamajor merchants of Tockington, Glos. Justinian’s will mentions interests in Antigua and St Kitts, and he had shares in a Bristol warehouse, the wealth having orginated from West Indian sugar cane plantations.

When he inherited Potterells, which included an estate of 200 acres, he sold High Cannons in Shenley and set about restoring the house at Potterells. He became High Sheriff of Herts in 1800, and died in 1820, aged 73.

There is something strange about his will as no estate duty was paid, and across it the accountants had written "insolvent" and mentioned a letter from the West Indies. We know that the sugar market collapsed about 1815.

As regards his family, the eldest son, Justinian, died unmarried in 1821; his next son, Louis Duncan Casamajor, who was in the diplomatic service, died in St Petersburgh, Russia, in 1820. By 1839 Potterells was the home of the third son, William Charles Casamajor, who died in 1847, also unmarried. Justinian had two further younger sons, John and George James, both of whom appear to have gone to India where they died, also unmarried.

Justinian had three daughters, Henrietta, who died 1824 at Rawleigh House, Devon, and Emma and Caroline Lydia. It was Caroline who died as a spinster in 1853, aged 65, who left an endowment of £3,000 to the Girls’ and Infants’ School at Water End in North Mymms.

We understand that, also living at Potterells, were James Archibald Casamajor and his daughters, Jane and Elizabeth, these being another branch of the Casamajor family.

By John Harris

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