The Cayley crest
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:
Emma Cayley (c.1797-1848), who married her cousin Edward Stillingfleet Cayley (1802-1862) in 1823 (see Low Hall Cayleys).
Sara Philadelphia Cayley (c.1803-1885), who married her first cousin Sir William Worsley, in 1827; they had six children.
Digby Cayley (1807-1883), who inherited the baronetcy from his father, and married Dorothy Allanson, a clergyman's daughter, in 1830.
Anne Cayley (c.1810-1872)
Catherine Cayley (1812-1887), who married twice. Her first husband, by whom she had five children, was Henry Ralph Beaumont (1807-1838) of Newby Park, Ripon, Yorkshire, and Brecon in Wales, son of an army colonel and Yorkshire MP; the second was Captain James Anlaby Legard (1805-1869), by whom she had one son. Catherine Cayley recalled in later life playing as a child among bits of her father's flying machines.
Mary Agnes Cayley (1815-1860), who in 1846 entered into an unsuccessful marriage with James Alexander, a doctor. They had two children before separating formally in 1852. She was awarded custody of the children, and under the separation agreement he was allowed to see them once a month on condition that he did not molest her. Subsequently the Cayley family went to huge lengths to disguise her whereabouts from her husband, so presumably either James Alexander was violent to her or he was abusing the children or he was trying to get hold of her money. In August 1853 she left England for America; in February 1854 she wrote to James Alexander from Brooklyn, New York, saying that she was about to go to one of the Western States to find a permanent lucrative position. On Monday 8 June 1863 James Alexander applied in the Court of Queen's Bench in London for a writ of habeas corpus directing Edward Cayley barrister (Edward Stillingfleet Cayley junior - see Low Hall Cayleys) and Lord Monteagle to deliver his children Mary Isabella Alexander and Walter Cayley Alexander into his guardianship. He said that in fact his wife returned secretly to England in February 1854, living under various assumed names. Subsequent letters purporting to be from America were posted by her brother-in-law Edward Stillingfleet Cayley. In 1862 he learnt that a Mrs Willis who died at Malvern on 29 February 1860 was in fact his estranged wife. On 14 January 1863 he received information which led him to the Lady's College, Harley Street, London, where he found his daughter registered in the name of Wood, having been placed there by Lady Monteagle, a relative. From her he learnt that his son had gone to Lady Monteagle's for a few days, and understood that his children were under the care of Lady Monteagle and Edward Cayley. He told his daughter he wanted her and her brother to pass the Easter holidays with him under the care of a lady relative; his daughter agreed but said he should write to Lady Monteagle and Edward Cayley as they managed everything. There was no response to a request that his children be allowed to visit him accompanied by a lady relative. The final outcome of this case - which was widely reported with glee in the newspapers - is not known: possibly there was a private settlement of the dispute.