life stories

Anthony Cavalier, 1807 – 1864

Anthony William John Cavalier was born in Stepney, London. At the age of 17, a year after the death of his father (a silk-weaver), he married 15-year-old Maria Bourne at Stepney Church. Anthony set up as a sugar baker/refiner on Upper Union Street, Hull, but by 1843 the family had moved to Nursery Street, Sheffield, a short walk from the new Wicker railway station, and Maria set up in business as a milliner.

By 1848 the Cavaliers had traded up to larger premises at Washford Bridge, Attercliffe, Sheffield : “The two words Sugar House are printed conspicuously across the ER property on the 1853 Ordnance map. At some time between 1845 and 1848, Anthony Cavalier had established himself here as sugar refiner.” (Vine GR, The Story of Old Attercliffe).

It may be that their son Samuel Cavalier, born in Sheffield a year after the death of Samuel Holberry, was named in memory of the town’s iconic Chartist leader. In November 1849 Anthony Cavalier stood as Chartist-backed candidate for the town council, despite opposition and a “dirty tricks” campaign stirred up when he expressed political allegiance to Isaac Ironside. Samuel Jackson, Attercliffe nailmaker, raised the issue at a public meeting at the Town Hall: “There was a strong feeling created against Mr Ironside in Attercliffe, and use was made of his name in a placard… to prejudice the burgesses against their (the Chartist) candidate, Mr Cavalier.”

The placard, reported the Sheffield Independent, pilloried Ironside as “the pretend people’s friend”, and continued: “Will you, then, vote for Cavalier, who goes to the Council pledged to support Ironside, your calumniator… ?”

The next evening a “numerous meeting” of the Ecclesall ward burgesses opened at the Bazaar hotel, South Street (the Moor), “… for the purpose of nominating Mr Anthony Cavalier, of Attercliffe, sugar refiner, as a fit person to represent the ward in the Town Council. . . In reply to a question, Mr Cavalier said he was opposed to church-rates. In fact, he was so disgusted with the cant and hypocrisy which he witnessed among the generality of teachers and professors of religion, that he never attended any place of worship… He had been a Radical all his life, and was as strong a Chartist as any in the room .” (Sheffield Independent, Nov 1849)
The show of hands concluding the meeting was “unanimous in favour of Mr Cavalier”. The polling booths opened for the municipal elections, and he was duly elected. Cavalier’s two-year term of office spanned an eventful period for Sheffield: just two weeks later the town was mourning the loss of Ebenezer Elliott, Corn Law Rhymer.

Francis Cavalier, their eldest son, married Catherine Arnold, schoolteacher and daughter of Sheffield razor-maker John Arnold, in May 1847. Francis subsequently set out for Australia in the gold rush excitement of 1852-1853, soon followed by his three brothers, his sister and his mother Maria. Anthony returned to Sculcoates, Hull , and in due course took up with a common-law wife, a Margaret Hall from Surrey, and the couple had two daughters, Clara and Caroline, in 1857 and 1859. Clara Cavalier (known as Lillian) would become an actress, drawn to the London stage, where she married into London ‘s literary high society.

Anthony Cavalier, after a stint as a marine store-dealer, resumed work as a sugar refiner, but his health soon deteriorated and he died with a jaundice illness in 1864.

Contributed by Anthony Cavalier’s great great great great grandson. Jim Walker