Arthur Whiting 1880-1950

Parents:        Thomas Whiting and Emma Barber
Born:             14th May 1880 in Haverhill (1,16)
Baptised:      ?
Married:        Emily Kiddy, 21, spinster, on 25th April 1910 in Southampton.(3)
Children:       Annie Emily Whiting b.1911, Rose Emma Whiting b.1915, Lily Alice Whiting b.1917 died 1918, Arthur Albert Whiting b.1920, Emily M Whiting b.1923, George J Whiting b.1927, Joan M Whiting b.1930 and Irene G Whiting b.1932
Died:              29th December 1950 at 11 Hill Street, Poole. Buried on 4th January 1951.(12,13,15)


Bio:                 Arthur was the youngest son of Thomas and Emma. They had had a previous son of the same name who was born in the middle of 1877, but he died aged 4 months and was buried at Haverhill Cemetery on 17th December. Arthur was one of two Arthur Whitings whose birth was registered in the second quarter of 1880 in the Risbridge district, the other one being the son of Frank Whiting and Emma Spicer.

 He is present with his parents and older brothers Harry and Frederick on the 1881 census living with the Page family in Crowland Road, Haverhill. After their mother died in 1886 he and his brothers were left to fend for themselves being as their father Thomas was in Melton Asylum for several years around this time. There were, however, sufficient family members around to provide them with somewhere to stay as was the case on the next census.

On the 1891 census we see Arthur and Frederick staying as boarders with Susan Shipp, a widow of 68 who was their great great aunt - Her sister Lucy Whiting was their father Thomas' grandmother. Also living with them at 1 Parsons Yard, Haverhill, was Harry Shipp, 10, who was a grandchild of a relative of Susan's late husband.

In 1896, like his brother Frederick the previous year, Arthur joined the Militia.(2) He had been working as a labourer. He attested as a gunner in the 3rd Battalion Suffolk Regiment for 6 years service on the 17th December. We see from his medical that Arthur was 5ft 5½ inches, of fresh complexion with blues eyes and brown hair. He weighed 112 pounds with a chest measurement of 31½/33 inches. His age is given as 17 years 7 months which means he would have been born in May 1879. There is also mention of his address at 1 Parsons Yard, which confirms he is this Arthur as opposed to several other possible candidates. His service in the Militia wouldn't have been continuous - he would have been called for drill and training at various times each year. He was eventually discharged on 14th December 1902 having lasted the full term of his service.

 Arthur is mentioned several times in the collector's reports of the Risbridge Poor Law Union in connection with payments towards the maintenance of his father, who was in Melton Asylum at this time. On 15th October 1909 Collector Arthur Debenham states 'I made application for Arthur Whiting for the sum of 2/6 per week towards the maintenance of his father Thomas Whiting in the Suffolk Asylum. I have twice seen Arthur Whiting about this but he states that he cannot. I have asked him for a letter to that effect for the board of Guardians but do not get one.' Again on 29th October - 'I have seen Arthur Whiting in respect to the 2/6 per week towards his father's maintenance. He states that he cannot pay anything as he has nothing to do and no earnings.'(5)

 A slight complication arose when trying to follow the progress of Arthur's life at this point because of the existence of another Arthur Whiting, son of Thomas, who was born around the same time. And to make matters even more confusing, it turns out that they both married women named Emily. And as if things couldn't get any more tricky, the other Arthur's wife was related to this Arthur's brother Fred's wife. You still with me? good!

 It seems that this Arthur married Emily Kiddy in Southampton on the 25th April 1910. I've no idea why this took place in Southampton, but from the 1911 census we can deduce that this must be so as we find him living with Emily at 126 Burton End, Haverhill with a 2 month old daughter Annie. He is a labourer. The census tells us they had been married for less than a year, so looking at the GRO registers this is the only possible marriage entry for these names around this period. Kiddy is a Haverhill name, after all, but why Southampton? Who knows.

It turns out that his wife Emily was the illegitimate daughter of Emma Kiddy, who was the fourth wife of Boaz Whiting.

 After the 1911 census it is quite often records of wartime service that give us the best chance of tracing what happened to our male ancestors.

Arthur is one of the select few whose service records survive from the Great War, and so we get to see some very interesting information about what happened to him from these.(4)

Arthur enrolled as Private No.23436 in the Royal West Kent Regiment on 25th October 1916 under the auspices of the Military Service Act of 1916 which meant that married men could be conscripted. At the time we can see he was living at 36 Bargehouse Road, North Woolwich, and was working as a labourer. He gives his age as 36 years and 5 months, and interestingly he makes no mention of his previous militia experience.

His medical passed him as a class 'A', and we can see he had grown a couple of inches and filled out a bit from when he had joined the Militia at 16. He was 5ft 7 inches tall with a chest measurement of 36 inches. He weighed 134 pounds, and his physical development and eyesight was good although it records that he had deficient teeth!

 The records also confirm the details of his marriage, and also mentions his three children. They are Annie Emily, born 5th March 1910(?) in Haverhill, Rose Emma who was born 12th May 1915 in Woolwich, and Lily Alice, who was born in Poole on 30th June 1917.

 Arthur was posted to depot 3 on 29th October 1916, and then it is recorded that he deserted on 2nd March 1917.

There is no trace of him after this. It does not appear he was caught, although a court of inquiry was held on 2nd July 1918. The death certificate of his daughter Lily Alice is included amongst the service records, which is slightly unusual. Presumably they thought this might help to track him down. She died on 9th February 1918 at 146 Montreal Road, Tilbury, of Broncho-Pneumonia. It gives an Aunt, A. Wright, as being present but no mention is made of her mother Emily.

 This leaves us with a bit of a mystery, then. What happened to Arthur, and indeed Emily?

 It turns out that the family relocated to Poole, Dorset. There was already a connection with Poole as we've seen it was the birth place of Lily Alice who died in infancy. The reason for concluding that they moved here is found in the GRO registers which when recording births in later years mention the maiden name of the child's mother. There is an Arthur A Whiting, whose mother's maiden name was Kiddy, born in the Poole district in 1920(5). This is followed by Emily M Whiting in 1923(6), George J Whiting in 1927(7), Joan M Whiting in 1930(8) and Irene G Whiting in 1932.(9)

Also, it appears that Arthur's first two daughters settled in Poole, too. Certainly Rose Emma married James Lucas there in 1937(10), and died there in 1998(11). Her GRO death entry confirms the exact date of birth we got from Arthur's service records.

We see an Emily Whiting at 5 East Quay Road, Poole, on the Dorset Electoral Register from 1918 to 1921(14). Perhaps this is Arthur's Wife.

On the 1921 census(17) we see Arthur Whiting, 48 years 1 month old, born in Haverhill, working as a general labourer for Tilbury Housing Scheme, at Tilbury Docks, Essex, living with wife Emily, 32 years 6 months old, and children Annie, Rosie and Arthur at 3 East Quay Road, Poole, Dorset. Under near Arthur's occupation is written 'out of work', although this falls in Emily's row, so we are not sure if this applies to her.
The address is registered in Emily's name, Arthur's given age is 7 years older than he actually was, and his given place of work was 140 miles away from where he actually lived, so these could provide clues to the fact he was trying to keep a low profile.

 The strangest thing is how Arthur managed to move to Poole, keep his original name, and have more children there without the authorities tracking him down on what would have been an outstanding charge of desertion that carried a severe penalty. Although opinions may have changed over time about people who chose to escape what had become an increasingly futile war, the matter of catching deserters would have been taken very seriously. The Police Gazette contained regular updates describing those wanted on such charges. I guess we can only presume that before the age of computers (which has, after all, sped up communication and faciliated better record-keeping) it was much easier to slip through the net and avoid detection. 

The 1939 Register shows Arthur at 30 Market Street, Poole. His birth-date is revealed as 30th May 1880 (although these are sometimes unreliably recorded) and he is a general labourer. Although married, he does not appear to be living with his wife(16).

 Probate records reveal that Arthur saw out his remaining years in Poole. Arthur James Whiting of 11 Hill Street, Poole, died on 29th December 1950.(15)

He was buried on 4th January 1951 aged 70 years.(12,13) Administration was granted on 8th March 1951 to his daughters Anne Emily Lawes and Rose Emma Lucas, with effects of £158 3s 8d.


(1) Birth Register. 2nd Quarter 1880, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 539
(2) National Archives, Militia Service Records 1806-1915, WO96.
(3) Marriage Register. 2nd Quarter 1910, Southampton District, Volume 2c Page 79
(4) National Archives: WO 363 First World War Service Records. British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920
(5) Birth Register. 1st Quarter 1920, Poole District, Volume 5a Page 538
(6) Birth Register. 2nd Quarter 1923, Poole District, Volume 5a Page 429
(7) Birth Register. 1st Quarter 1927, Poole District, Volume 5a Page 368
(8) Birth Register. 2nd Quarter 1930, Poole District, Volume 5a Page 364
(9) Birth Register. 2nd Quarter 1932, Poole District, Volume 5a Page 372
(10) Marriage Register. 2nd Quarter 1937, Poole District, Volume 5a Page 666
(11) Death Register. 3rd Quarter 1998, Poole District, Reg No. A25E, District and Subdistrict. 4311A, Entry No. 91
(12) Death Register. 1st Quarter 1951, Poole District, Volume 6a Page 742
(13) Dorset History Centre, Dorset Parish Registers, PE/HMY. 
(14), Dorset Electoral Registers 1839-1922
(15) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966
(16) 1939 Register, Ref: RG101/6926E/013/36 Letter Code: WKFS,
(17) 1921 Census, 3 East Quay, Poole, Reg District 261, Sub-district 2, Enumeration district 1.