Cayley Family History

Cayley crest cayley crest 1

The Cayley crest

Descendants of the 5th Baronet

Sir Thomas Cayley (1732-1792), the fifth Cayley Baronet, and his wife Isabella Seton (d. 1828) had four children:

  • George Cayley (1773-1853), the "aeronautical sixth Baronet", an inventor who, besides pioneering the design of flying machines, also invented (among many other things) a mechanical hand for an injured tenant on his estates; the caterpillar tread for vehicles (to help them cope with marshy land); a means of testing the purity of water; a new method of draining farmland; an electric motor; and a steam carriage which crashed in Chelsea, London in 1840, killing his chief engineer Thomas Wadeson. Sir George was a leading Yorkshire Whig, and MP for Scarborough, Yorkshire from 1832-1834, and was instrumental in getting gas lighting into the Houses of Parliament. In later life, following a series of fatal accidents, he campaigned for improvements in railway safety, designing some safety mechanisms himself. He played a leading part in the founding of the Regent Street Polytechnic in 1838 - which combined education with an exhibition and demonstration area popular with London gentry and middle classes: this evolved into what is now the University of Westminster.  He was a friend of Charles Babbage, the computer pioneer. Besides his more serious interests, he enjoyed fencing, fly-fishing and conjuring, and he occasionally dabbled in light verse. His letters - some in the British Library - show a keen if slightly ponderous sense of humour. He did not have the conventional gentleman's education: instead of going to Oxford or Cambridge, he was taught privately by two non-conformist ministers with strong scientific interests. One of them was George Walker, whose daughter Sarah (1773-1854) he married at All Saints, Edmonton, Middlesex in 1795.

  • Elizabeth Cayley (b. 1775), who in 1790 married Benjamin Blackden of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

  • Philadelphia Sara Cayley (c. 1777-1827), who in 1800 married a doctor called Richard Slater (d. 1842).

  • Isabella Cayley, who in 1797 marfried Lancelot Shadwell, a London barrister. They had at least one child: Peter Cayley Shadwell (1798-1887), who married Maria Cavendish (daughter of Captain Henry Cavendish of the Royal Irish Artillery) in 1826.

  • Anne Cayley (c.1781-1857), who married the Rev George Worsley (1761-1815), from a prominent Yorkshire family. They had 11 children and was one of the grandmothers of Catherine Louisa Worsley who married the 8th Cayley baronet, George Allanson Cayley. Another of their children married one of his Cayley first cousins (see immediately below).


Sir George Cayley (6th Baronet) and Sarah Walker had nine children:




Catherine Cayley d of 6th bt web version