Benjamin Whiting 1876-1975

Parents: Jesse Whiting and Ellen Smith (1)Born: 27th February 1876 in Burton End, Haverhill.(1,2)

Baptised: 28th February 1880 at St Mary's Parish Church, Haverhill.(1)
Married: Caroline Elizabeth Palmer, 19, spinster, daughter of John Palmer, labourer, in the Hartismere District in 1898
Children: Hetty May Whiting b.1898, Dorothy Ellen Whiting b.1900, Herbert Whiting b.1902 died in infancy, Violet Gladys Whiting b.1903, Alice Eliza Whiting b.1905, Florence Ellen Whiting b.1906, Evelyn Louisa Whiting b.1909, Ruby Lilian Whiting b.1912, Jesse Whiting b.1913, Nellie Kathleen b.1916 and Ethel Vera Whiting b.1918 died in infancy.
Died: 1975 in the Ipswich district.(4)

Bio: Born in 1876 and baptised along with his sister Alice and brothers Jabez and Joseph on 28th February 1880, Benjamin features on the 1881 census living in Burton End with his parents and 6 siblings. At the time of the next census in 1891 Benjamin is living at 104 Burton End with his father and step-mother Elizabeth, his own mother having died just after the previous census was taken . He is working as a spinner.

Benjamin married Caroline Palmer in 1898. She was born in Finningham, and appears on the 1891 census working as a domestic at the Old Bell Inn in Ipswich. How she came to hook up with Benjamin is not clear.

They had a daughter, Hetty, who was born on 5th September 1898 and at that time they were living at 2 Parson's Yard, Haverhill.

On the 1901 census Benjamin is living at 'The Ropewalk', Haverhill, with Caroline and two daughters Hetty and Dorothy. He is a rope-spinner, and is working for Herbert Farrant who is a rope-maker who is also living at 'The Ropewalk'. Caroline is an Army Canvas Bag maker.

Whilst staying in the rope-making business, Benjamin moved with his family to Hadleigh, Suffolk, around 1905. We know this because on the 1911 census his fourth daughter is listed as having been born there. On this census we see Benjamin and Caroline living at 23 Benton Street, Hadleigh with a family of 6 daughters. It appears they had one son, Herbert, born in Haverhill in 1902 who died two years later. Going by the GRO index it appears that Benjamin and Caroline had five more children in the years that followed.

Believe it or not, you can see actual film of Ben Whiting making rope in the Rope Walk in Pound Lane, Hadleigh in 1946 on the East Anglian Film Archive website. We see Benjamin at the age of 70 - he is a slight, wiry looking man with a big nose, well-worn face and dark hair, and we are told he has been making rope for the last 60 years. As you watch him engrossed in his work you get the feeling this setup would have been very similar to the Rope Walk in Haverhill.

On the 1939 Register, Benjamin is shown living at 149 Lady Lane, Ipswich Road, Hadleigh, with Caroline and daughter Nellie. His given year of birth is one year out. He is working as a cutter on a government contract in a cellular manufacturing set-up; he is performing one task in the garment manufacturing process(6).

So, not only does Benjamin Whiting get the accolade of being the first Whiting on the site for whom we have moving footage, but he also becomes the longest lived Whiting so far - dying at the grand old age of 99 in the Ipswich district in 1975. The GRO death index gives his birth date as 28th March 1876, about a month later than the birth date on the baptism entry. It seems Caroline died in 1967 at the age of 89.(5)

Thanks to Sharon (littlemisshoo on for the picture of Benjamin.


(1) Suffolk Baptism Index, SFHS, Clare Deanery 1812-1900
(2) Birth Register. 2nd Quarter 1876, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 484
(3) Marriage Register. 2nd Quarter 1898, Hartismere District, Volume 4a Page 1492a
(4) Death Register. 2nd Quarter 1975, Ipswich District, Volume 10 Page 2704
(5) Death Register. 3rd Quarter 1967, Sudbury District, Volume 4b Page 1011
(6) The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6660I.