Emma Challis 1832-1892

Parents: David Challis and Mary Crackling (1,2)
Born: 23rd June 1832 in Crowland, Haverhill (2)
Baptised: 12th August 1832 at St Mary's Parish Church, Haverhill (2)
Married: Boaz Whiting, widower, shoemaker, of Bethnal Green, son of Joseph Whiting, labourer on 12th February 1866 at St James the Great Church, Bethnal Green. Witnessed by Edmund and Ellen Whiting.(3,4)
Children: illegitimate sons Walter Challis b.1852 and Frank Challis b.1857. Mary Ann Whiting b.1867
Died: October 1892 in Haverhill. Buried on 27th October 1892 at Haverhill Cemetery.(5,6)

Bio: Emma was the daughter of weaver David Challis and Mary Crackling who had been married on 24th February 1828 in Haverhill.(1)

They were living in Crowland, Haverhill at the time of her birth and we see her first on the 1841 census still living in Crowland with her parents and siblings Ellen, Elliott, Elijah and James. The Challis family remain in Crowland on the 1851 census, but with the addition of two more sons William and John. By the time of the 1861 census, Emma's father David has died and her mother Mary, now a widow, still lives in Crowland with son James, Emma, and 3 children who are referred to as Mary's grandchildren. One of them, Walter, was the illegitimate child of Emma born in 1852.(2) It is not really clear how many illegitimate children Emma had, but at least two can be definitely attributed to her.

Maybe Emma already knew Boaz Whiting from their Haverhill connection, but when she married him in 1866 they are both listed as living in Bethnal Green. Perhaps Emma went there to find work, or even lived with the Whitings before she married Boaz. They returned to Haverhill at some point after 1867 and before 1871 as they are present on this census living with Emma's widowed mother in Crowland. Boaz and Emma have a daughter of their own now, Mary Ann who was born in Middlesex in late 1867.

Living with them is Frank Challis, who must have been another illegitimate son of Emma. He appears here at 13 years old, but does not appear on the previous census or if he does, is not mentioned by this name.

In 1880, Emma was the victim of an assault by Thomas 'chummy' Whiting on 24th July. Thomas was a distant relative of Boaz.There is no account in the local paper of the reasons behind this, the nature of the assault, or the effect this had on her, but Thomas was committed to three months hard labour as punishment. There was going to be no chance of a more lenient sentence for him as he'd rather foolishly decided to take a few swings at Police inspector Page when he arrived on the scene.(7)

Next year at the time of the 1881 census we see Boaz and Emma living in Union Square, Haverhill. Boaz is a shoe repairer, and Mary Ann and Frank Challis are still living at home.

The last time we see Emma is on the 1891 census. She is living with Boaz at 19 Burton End, Haverhill. The children have left home, and Boaz is still plying his trade as a shoemaker.

Emma died in 1892 and was buried at Haverhill Cemetery.(5,6)


(1) Ancestry.com; Place: Haverhill, Suffolk, England; Collection: BTs; Date Range: 1825 - 1829; Film Number: 989582.
(2) Suffolk Baptism Index, SFHS, Clare Deanery 1754-1812.
(3) London Metropolitan Archives, Saint James The Great, Bethnal Green, Register of marriages, P72/JSG, Item 022
(4) Marriage Register. 1st Quarter 1866, Bethnal Green district, Volume 1c, Page 469
(5) Haverhill Cemetery, Ref.1973. http://www.haverhill-uk.com/pages/burial-records-137.htm
(6) Death Register. 4th Quarter 1892, Risbridge district, Volume 4a Page 35?.
(7) The Bury and Norwich Post, Tuesday, 27th July 1880, p.5, issue 5118, C19th British Library Newspapers: part II