Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
From his grandson, Richard Capon
Mr and Mrs Wilfred Colson

Wilfrid Ernest Capon
Wilfrid’s father, William, was a small man. By reputation he was less than five feet tall. His son Wilfrid was only 5ft 4in or so and always seemed a diminutive figure in photographs. Wilfrid’s size and energy earned him the sobriquet of ‘The Mighty Atom’.

WILLIAM CHARLES CAPON was born 1855 in Lidlington, a village to the south of Bedford and died 17th November 1935 at 5 Pioneer Avenue, Burton Latimer, Northants leaving an estate of £132.18s.  He married ELIZABETH PAYNE 1879 in Luton. She died in 1886 at the age of 34, and he then married SARAH MAUNDRELL September 24, 1887 in Bedford, Holy Trinity Church. She died in 1926 at the family home in 5 Midland Road, Rushden and left £460.4.11 to her daughter Alice.

Emma Cutler nee Capon (William Charles's sister) left her place in service when his wife (Elizabeth) fell ill and stayed to look after him and the three children until he married again.

William Charles Capon was a blacksmith at Harrowden or a Rep. for 'Jones' sewing machines and in the 1890 Trade Directory, was registered at 41 Argyll Street.


JOHN GEORGE CAPON, b. December 29, 1879; d. 1946 in Southend; m. FLORENCE TUCKER.

JOHN GEORGE CAPON was a teacher in Walthamstow and Leytonstone. He gave up teaching for a while and had a seed and horticultural shop. He later returned to teaching and moved to Hadleigh in Essex. His school was moved to Rushden in 1939-40 when his school in London was evacuated. He is believed to have died in 1947.

After the death of her husband Auntie Flo moved into a bungalow next to her sisters Elsie and Emmie. Flo and Emmie died within a few days of each other in 1971(?). Elsie died subsequently.

GERTRUDE LIZZIE CAPON, b. December 17, 1881; d. 1963.
Child of Gertrude & William:
ALICE ATKINSON, d. February 1997.
WILFRID ERNEST CAPON, b. January 08, 1885 and baptised on 8th July, 41 Foster Street, Bedford; d. February 24, 1969, Bristol. (See below)
LAURA OCTAVIA CAPON born 12th March 1889 and baptised on 7th June 1889. She died in the second quarter of 1890.

ALICE OCTAVIA CAPON, b. April 18, 1895; d. June 05, 1981, Boscombe.

Alice went to a private school in High Street, Rushden at the rear of farm near Hedley's shop.The property known as Farm House was formerly owned by the Denton family and became known as Farm House School where a Miss Lizzie Smith acted as the teacher.  Later they lived in Washbrook Road in one of three houses owned. Two of the houses were sold to pay for 5 Midland Road. She went to Moor Road Infants then to Bedford Girls School after the 11+ examination and finally to the 6th form at Wellingborough County High School. She did not train as a teacher but was a pupil teacher. She taught at Burton Latimer School from 1930 until 1953 and retired subsequently to Boscombe, near Bournmouth.

Wilfred and Frances
WILFRID ERNEST CAPON, b. January 08, 1885 and baptised on 8th July, 41 Foster Street, Bedford; d. February 24, 1969, Bristol. He married FRANCES LIZZIE GOODBAND August 12, 1916 in Wesleyan Chapel, Earith, Cambridgeshire a daughter of JOHN GOODBAND and ALICE CRAVEN.

His mother, Elizabeth Payne died quite young and Wilfrid was looked after by Florence's mother Emma Phoebe Capon. He first lived in Bedford, then Pemberton St., Rushden, then 5, Midland Road. (Maybe elsewhere also)

W.E. Capon and Frances lived at 56 Grove Road, moving there in 1916. They moved to Barton-on-Sea in 1956.

ALEC WILFRID CAPON, b. December 06, 1918, Rushden.

MEGAN GERTRUDE CAPON, b. March 07, 1920, Rushden.

Wilfrid’s formative years

were with his father and step mother and he seems to have developed a much  stronger tie with his half-sister Alice than he did with his older siblings. Alice never married and both Alice and Wilfrid retired to the south coast near Bournmouth where they supported each other in their declining years.

The relationship between Wilfrid and his brother and sister seems to have been more strained and in the 1940s the existence of the brother was not mentioned. His brother did not attend family weddings or other celebrations and they would pass in the street with barely an acknowledgement. What factor caused such a build up of distrust is unknown.

Not only did Wilfrid continue his father’s staunch observance of abstinence from alcohol, but he was also a lay preacher with his local Methodist Church. He spent many Sunday evenings preaching at small chapels in outlying villages both in Northamptonshire, and subsequently in the New Forest area of Hampshire where he retired.

His skill as a businessman was the antithesis of his ‘skills’ in daily living. He was the most impractical man. If a bulb needed changing or a fuse had blown then professional help was called in. In retirement he learned to enjoy his garden, but after his wife’s death he found it very difficult to keep his home in good order and himself fed. His wife Frances had had a day in bed each week because of her high blood pressure and faulty kidneys, which had made her very overweight for many years so he had had to fend for himself for one day a week at least!

One memory I have is of staying with them and changing the channel on the TV from BBC to ITV (The only other station in those days). It was only after I had returned home that I heard that this had caused great consternation in the house as neither of my grandparents had the slightest idea of how to change the channel. They turned the set on by switching it on, on the wall and never touched the settings. They had had to call out an electrician to have the channel changed never to be altered again. ITV was in some way believed to be subversive! 

No account of the life of ‘The Mighty Atom’ could be complete without an account of the business of John Cave and Sons, which dominated his life for over half a century. In 1900 he was the office boy and fifty years later he had been the Managing Director for some years. His position as Chairman of the Urban District Council on two occasions and membership of the Council for many more, adds to his importance in the life of this small town. There are still workmen in the town who remember ‘Wilf’ Capon with respect and in the sixties, when I lived in the area people who hardly knew me would stop me in the street, touch their caps or hats and ask after him whilst he was living in retirement. Local shops who knew of my relationship would give preferential treatment to me as ‘Wilf’s’ grandson.

The firm was pivotal in the development of this small east Midlands town and went from strength to strength. Their Baptist principles meant that the company was philanthropic and as a major employer in the town, they and the town grew in tandem.

It was into this supportive environment that Wilf Capon obtained his first job as the office boy during 1900 at the age of fifteen. Records suggest that he worked six days a week in the grindery office tying parcels and completing other sundry chores whilst studying for his examinations in the evening. His working day started at 7am! He became Company Secretary in 1913 and a director in 1922.

Rushden Echo, 1st January 1915, transcribed by Kay Collins

Mr Wilfred E Capon, secretary of Messrs John Cave and Sons Ltd., Rushden, has passed the Intermediate examination of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries.

By 1950 the company was at its peak. The company had offices and a showroom in London, four travelling salesmen called Home Representatives who between them covered the whole of England and Wales and Overseas Agents in New Zealand, Bolivia, Malta, Iceland, West Indies, West Africa, Israel, and Australia. They were exporting to almost forty nations.

Wilf Capon retired shortly after 1950 and he and Frances moved to Barton on Sea, Hampshire, in 1956.

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the People & Families index
Click here to e-mail us