Elizabeth Whiting c.1860-1942

Image: 1871 census. Class: RG10; Piece: 292; Folio: 16; Page: 25; GSU roll: 824925.

Parents: Edmund Whiting and Lucy Clover
Born: 13th April 1860 in Bethnal Green(7)
Baptised: ?
Married: Henry Wastell, 22, batchelor, cabinet maker of 4 Wellington Road, son of Peter Wastell, weaver, on 16th June 1884 at St Thomas' Church, Bethnal Green. Witnessed by John Russell and Maria Dadd.(1,2)
Children: None.
Died: 27th May 1942 at Hackney Hospital, buried on 3rd June 1942 at Manor Park Cemetery, Newham.(4,5)

Bio: This Whiting female has the unusual distinction of appearing on two censuses yet still remaining unidentifiable on either. The reason for this is that she was unnamed at the time of the 1861 census despite being listed as 4 months old. The census in 1871 finds this girl living with her parents and siblings at 1 Lees Court, Islington. Now she has a name, but it is virtually impossible to decipher. I've included a portion of the census image at the top of the page to show what I mean. She is the third person down just below Lucy. She is ten years old and is a Scholar.

Several people suggested names for her. As Jess, the first person to submit a suggestion had kindly pointed out, it does look like 'Esse' and indeed ancestry.com have it as such, but rather puzzlingly that is not a real name as far as I know. (unless you're a Japanese car or a cast-iron stove!)

Given that it appears to start with an 'E', we would hope to be able to find a birth in the Bethnal Green or Shoreditch area that provided a plausible candidate. However, this was not forthcoming. Neither was a search of marriages or deaths in London or Haverhill.

In case there is any further confusion after looking at the census extract, it must be added that her father was known as 'Edward' on some censuses, although his real name was Edmund.

Eventually I stumbled upon two marriage register entries that hold the clue to her identity.

Firstly, the entry of a marriage for a Mary Ann Whiting to John Russell provided a red-herring that seemed to conjure up yet another mystery Whiting sister. It transpired that this was a name that Sophia Whiting, for whatever reason, also went by.

Five days after Mary Ann's (Sophia's) marriage on 16th June 1884, Elizabeth Whiting, 22, machinist, and daughter of Edmund Whiting, bootmaker, marries Henry Wastell, 22, batchelor, and cabinet maker.(1,2) He was the son of Peter Wastell, a weaver. Elizabeth Whiting is living at 3 Turk Street at the time of the marriage. One of the witnesses at the marriage is the John Russell who married Sophia.

Now when we look at the 1871 census we can easily see that 'Esse' as the name appears, could actually be a derivation of 'Elizabeth' or perhaps 'Bessie' and maybe the strange abbreviation arises because there was both an Eliza and an Elizabeth in the family.

The 1881 census is no help as Elizabeth doesn't feature with the rest of the family who were then back living in Burton End, Haverhill. It was several years after this that Elizabeth married. It looks likely she remained living in London, perhaps with relatives.

We know that the Elizabeth who married isn't Eliza because Eliza is present on the next census in 1891 single and still living with her father Edmund.

So Elizabeth is now the favourite to be the missing Whiting female despite the fact that she was a little older than her marriage entry suggested.

Although their whereabouts isn't clear on the 1891 census, an entry in her sister Frances' Bethnal Green Union examination papers dated 1st September 1891 shows that Mrs Wastell is living at 19 Mary Street, Kingsland Road(. On the 1901 census Elizabeth and Henry Wastell are living at 9 Wilks Place, Shoreditch, and Henry is a night stool (commode) maker. Elizabeth is a tailoress. They have no children.

The 1911 census entry for Henry and Elizabeth Wastell nee Whiting also provides the location of her sister Sophia. We see them living at 22 Hilcott Street, Shoreditch, where Henry is a commode maker, and Elizabeth a button maker. Living with them is Sophia Russell, match box maker. She is referred to as still being married, and having been married for exactly the same length of time as her sister, 28 years. We also get to find out that she has had 9 children, of which only 2 are still alive. It is not clear why Sophia is living with her sister, though.

Elizabeth and Henry are spotted on the London Electoral register for 1923 living at 25 Market Row, West Hackney. Elizabeth's sister Sophia Russell is still with them too.

Over ten years later in 1936 we find them still there, not with Sophia this time, but Frances Phillips instead. This is surely one of Elizabeth's other sisters.

It seems that Henry Wastell died in 1939 in Hackney, and Elizabeth appears on the 1939 Register as a widow living at 52 King Edward Road, Hackney, in the household of William J and Elizabeth Dickerson(7). It turns out that Elizabeth Dickerson's maiden name was Wastell. She was born on 1st April 1881, so told old to be a daughter of Elizabeth and the late Henry. A niece of Henry's perhaps?

Elizabeth died at Hackney Hospital on 27th May 1942. She was buried at Manor Park Cemetery on 3rd June 1942. There are five people buried in this grave space, but as none are related it appears to have been a common plot.(4,5)


(1) London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Thomas, Bethnal Green, Register of marriages, P72/TMS, Item 026
(2) Marriage Register. 2nd Quarter 1884, Bethnal Green District, Volume 1c Page 654.
(3) Death Register. 2nd Quarter 1939, Hackney District, Volume 1b Page 394
(4) Death Register. 2nd Quarter 1942, Hackney District, Volume 1b Page 367
(5) Burial Register, Manor Park Cemetery, Newham, 3rd June 1942, Folio 941, No.307561, Square 146, Grave D295. Deceasedonline.com
(6) London Metropolitan Archives, Bethnal Green Union, 14 June 1892, BEBG-267-044 p.483, Ancestry.com
(7) 1939 Register, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/197D