Alexander Cavell was the son of Robert Corry Cavell, whose cousin Frederick Cavell was father of Edith Cavell. In 1840 at the age of 15 Robert accompanied Frederick to a school in Heidelberg and studied there for 2 years. Robert was ordained in 1849 and was Vicar of Binham in Norfolk from 1865 – 1907, nearly as long a time as his cousin Frederick was Vicar of Swardeston also in Norfolk (1863-1909).
Alexander was born in 1860, 5 years before Edith. He was ordained in 1884 and eventually became Vicar of Wereham, Norfolk in 1898. In 1901 he married Sarah Thornton who played the church organ at Wereham. Sarah was one of the fourteen children of Thomas Thornton a wealthy gentleman farmer and churchwarden. By 1904 Alexander and Sarah had three daughters Alexandra, Kathleen and Gwendoline and in 1905 they moved to North Lincolnshire where he was presented to the living of Gunness and Burringham. This was not so very far from Withernsea where Florence Cavell Edith’s sister was matron of a convalescent home. Over the years they kept in close touch.
Three more children were born, Corry, Philip and Joan, but Philip died three months old. Gunness was their home for 27 years. Alexander Cavell visited his parishioners assiduously but he was a little forgetful about time, so Mrs. Cavell had a very loud gong which could be heard in the village and reminded him it was time for dinner. (Did this happen in Glatton?).
They moved to Glatton in 1931 to be near their eldest daughter Alexandra usually known as Alex or Queenie. She had married Morley Wells, a teacher at Durham school where their son Corry was a pupil. Morley was later ordained and was for many years Vicar of Stanground, Peterborough and later in the 1950s at Stow Longa and Spaldwick and 4 other villages.
Alexander and Sarah were at Glatton until 1935, when they retired and moved to live with Alex and Morley at Stanground. Alexander died there on January 23rd 1940.
Of their children three are buried in Glatton churchyard.
Kathie (Kathleen) married Frank Coles who was her father’s churchwarden at Glatton, and is buried in the Coles’ graves to the north of the church. They had no children of their own but were adored by their nephews and nieces.
Gwen (Gwendoline) could have been an academic heavyweight, though nobody meeting her casually would have guessed it. Instead she went out to Japan to marry Stanley Woodward, a missionary there. His father was Rector of Althorpe with Keadby, villages on the Yorkshire side of the river Trent just opposite Gunness. Stanley and Gwen had five children, four boys and a girl and numerous grandchildren. Stanley was Vicar of St. Mark’s Peterborough, Rector of Uppingham in Rutland and then Rector of Cosgrove in Northamptonshire before retiring to Buckden.
Joan was a career woman in the diplomatic service and an indefatigable traveller. She took great interest in the culture and customs of the countries in which she worked. When she retired she shared a house in Godmanchester with Alex and Morley.
In retirement Morley looked after the church at Great Stukeley and Alex and Morley are buried in the churchyard there.
Corry married Mary Watts and had four daughters. He was a teacher and for many years a housemaster at Uppingham School. He was a much famed head of chemistry and wrote several textbooks that have been widely used. New laboratories at the school are named after him. Their grave is in Uppingham cemetery.
Author: Rev’d. Canon Peter Woodward.
Photographs: Terry Brignall.