David Whiting c.1793-1876

Parents: Daniel Whiting and Elizabeth Hilsdon (1)
Born: c.1793 in Haverhill. (1)
Baptised: 12th June 1808 at St Mary's Parish Church, Haverhill. (1)
Married: Sarah Ragg on 11th June 1815 at St Werburgh's Church, Derby.(2)
Children: Thomas Whiting b.1816, David Whiting b.1819, Lydia Whiting b.1822 died in infancy, Henry Whiting b.1825, George Whiting b.1827 died in infancy, George Whiting b.1830 and Eliza Whiting b.1837
Died: 1st April 1876 of general decay, aged 88, in Haverhill. Buried on 6th April 1876 at Haverhill Cemetery.(3,4)

Bio: David Whiting was my 4th great grandfather. The exact date of David's birth is not known, but by looking at microfiche of the original parish baptism registers there are two entries as if he was baptised twice - first on 13th February 1793, and then as a teenager on 12th June 1808, when he was living in Burton End, Haverhill. For the first baptism entry, his father is incorrectly labelled as 'Jacob' on the SFHS Clare Deanery baptism transcriptions 1754-1812; a rare mistake. The second entry seems to refer back to the first as a birth date, although going by the age on his death certificate and also by the dates of his militia service he was likely born earlier. This is somewhat confusing, but could be reconciled if he was in fact baptised in 1793 when a few years old. It may well be that he was 're-baptised' for some reason in 1808 specifically because he was about to join up and serve with the militia.

With the onset of the Napoleonic Wars, the Suffolk Militia was embodied at Bury St Edmunds on 16th March 1803(7). Five years later, we find David Whiting as a private in the 5th company of the Risbridge local militia commanded by Lt Col Edward William Mathew (6). It seems the Risbridge local militia became the 1st Regiment of the West Suffolk Militia in december 1808, having previously been the Risbridge Volunteers. They were assembled for training at Bury St Edmunds from 15th May to 13th June 1809. David was paid 1 shilling per day during this time. He appears the following year as a drummer, earning an extra 1 and 3/4 d for this role. Reverting to private in 1811, in the same company, he carried on at this rank. On the 1813 Pay roll he is noted as having enlisted in the Cambridgeshire Militia.

Because David's wife Sarah was listed on the 1841 census as being born in a different county, and on the 1851 census her birthplace is given as Matlock, Derbyshire, the question of how these two came to meet was something of a mystery.

The answer came in the form of St Werburgh's church registers in Derby. Here 'David Whiteing, a soldier in the cambridgeshire militia' marries Sarah Ragg on 11th June 1815.(2)

The GRO birth entry for Eliza Whiting in 1837 confirms Sarah Whiting's maiden name as 'Rag', and the evidence of Sarah's surname and origins in Derby is too compelling to ignore when trying to match the individuals in the marriage record with David and Sarah Whiting of Haverhill. It would be nice to find something in the Militia records that links David directly to Haverhill, but the fact that his march to Bury St Edmunds whilst in the Risbridge Militia was 20 miles and this is also the distance to Haverhill could be added to the weight of evidence along with the fact that he is the only David Whiting I have been able to trace in the Risbridge district from around this time.

We can see from St Werburgh's registers that two other soldiers from the Cambridgeshire Militia married Derby girls near this time in 1815; John Stone married Mary Brown on 9th January, and William Basham married Anne Kirkland on 21st February.(2) Believe it or not we find William, who was David's age, living several doors down from him in Burton End, Haverhill with Anne and their children on the 1841 census. It is not hard to imagine that with their shared past they were friends, and who knows, maybe 25 years previously the two Militia lads had been on a night out in Derby and hooked up with Sarah and Anne who had also been companions.

From the muster rolls of the Cambridgeshire Militia(5) we can see that they were stationed in Derby from 28th March 1815 to 12th June 1815 when they marched to Nottingham. David is mentioned on the rolls for June 1813 as being amongst recruits for the Militia (he left the Risbridge Militia around this time as we saw earlier), and it is possible he then went to Ireland with them later that year. David is present with the militia under the command of Colonel Pemberton on the muster rolls for 25th December 1815 to 24th January 1816. He was one of 489 privates effective for this period and was receiving 1 shilling per day for his services.(5)

After the Napoleonic threat had subsided, the Cambridgeshire Militia were disembodied at Ely on 28th November 1816.

At the time of his son Thomas' baptism in 14th July 1816, David's occupation is listed as labourer - His status in the militia was not necessarily viewed as an occupation, and as the militia was nearing the process of disbandment he was probably already back in Haverhill.

By 1841, David was living in Burton End with Sarah and children David, Henry, George, Eliza and mother Elizabeth. He is working as a labourer.

On the next census, in 1851, David is still in Burton End with his wife Sarah and children George and Eliza. His mother has since died. He is living next-door to his brother Daniel Whiting. For the 1861 census, David is still in Burton End, and son George is still living with him and Sarah. He is still working as an agricultural labourer.

In 1869, David's wife Sarah dies and is buried in Haverhill Cemetery.

The last census David appears on is in 1871. He is still head of the household in Burton End, however he is now a widower and retired agricultural labourer and his son George has a wife, Sarah, and family living with them.

David died at the age of 88 on 1st April 1876 of general decay. This would suggest his birth year was in fact 1788. His son George Whiting was in attendance at his death. David was also buried in Haverhill Cemetery. The grave-site was not a purchased plot, and so no grave-marker remains.

Thanks to Judy Stratford for a copy of David's death certificate.


(1) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Parish Registers of St Mary's Church, Haverhill. Fiche 578/4
(2) The Phillimore Parish Registers, Derbyshire Parish Registers, Marriages - vol 10, Marriages at St Werburgh's, Derby, 1558-1837, p128
(3) Haverhill Cemetery, Ref. 624. http://www.haverhill-uk.com/pages/burial-records-137.htm
(4) Death Register. 2nd Quarter 1876, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 267
(5) National Archives. Militia Great Britain (Supplementary and miscellaneous), Cambridge, 1798-1815, WO13/2479
(6) National Archives. Militia and Volunteers Muster Rolls and Pay Lists, Suffolk 1st West, 1808-1816, WO13/3618
(7) The Foxearth and District Local History Society, 1803-05 Bury and Norwich Post Newspaper Archive, http://www.foxearth.org.uk/1803-1805BuryNorwichPost.html