George James Whiting 1877-1937

Parents: Frederick Whiting and Sarah Backler (1)
Born: 1877 (1)
Baptised: 20th January 1878.(10)
Married: Gertrude Maud Scott, 20, spinster of 17 Mill Road, Haverhill, daughter of William Scott, Inn keeper (deceased), on 24th February 1900 at St Mary's Parish Church, Haverhill. Witnessed by Harry Scott and Annie Whiting. (2,3)
Children: None.
Died: 23rd April 1937 at 1 Stratford Villas, Heaton, Newcastle.(3,4)

Bio: George was born in 1877(1) and baptised as James George according to an unsourced Familysearch index on 20th January 1878.(10) He is on the 1881 census as James Whiting, living in Burton End, Haverhill, with his parents and sisters. The next census in 1891 sees him at 9 Duddery Road, the eldest child in his parents household, and working as a general labourer.

In 1900 George married Gertrude Scott, who was the daughter of William Scott who had died 20 years previously aged 37.(5) He had been the Innkeeper of the Queen's Head in Haverhill,4) presumably up until the time of his death. At the time of his marriage to Gertrude, George was still living at 9 Duddery Road, Haverhill, and working as a factory hand at Gurteen's. Afterwards, the couple must have moved to Withersfield because we find them here on the 1901 census.

George is a brush hair weaver, and Gertrude a trousers machinist. They have no children at this stage. Just before this census, George had been a witness at his younger sister Margaret Ann's wedding in Tottenham on 27th January 1901. She had been a witness at his wedding the previous year.

At some point in the next ten years, George's life has taken a completely new direction because on the 1911 census we find him working as an 'assistant super life assurance'. It turns out he was working for the Salvation Army as an assistant superintendent in their Life Assurance business. Strange to think of the Salvation Army selling life insurance, but the Salvation Army General Insurance Corporation operates to this day - having started in 1909.

George is now living with Gertude in Watford, at 50 Harwoods Road. They have not had children.

An obituary for George appeared in 'War Cry', the Salvation Army magazine, and was very kindly transcribed by Jacqui Ramsden - great grand-daughter of George's brother Charles. It paints a very interesting picture of how his life was shaped by his involvement with the organisation, particularly about his time in Northern Ireland:

'Major George James Whiting (whose promotion to Glory) was recently reported in a recent issue of War Cry first came into contact with The Army at Haverhill when he was a lad in his teens. As a joke he and his brother attended a Ward Meeting, but the joke was changed to sober reality when in this gathering he was brought under deep conviction of sin. He knelt at the Mercy Seat.

Later Brother Whiting became one of the first Bandsmen of the Corps, and was also appointed Corps Secretary. After a time he became an Agent of The Salvation Army Assurance Society and as such was transferred to Cambridge and then to Chelmsford, where he took over the additional responsibility of District Superintendent.'

The Essex Newsman of 18th July 1908 has a paragraph about George's encounter with, of all things, a swallow, during his stint as a Captain in Chelmford - amazing what was deemed news-worthy at that time! 'SWALLOWS ACCIDENTAL DEATH - Capt. Whiting, a Salvation Army insurance agent, of Redcliffe Road, Chelmsford, was cycling down the Hawk-hill at Battlesbridge when a swallow, flying just ahead of his bicycle, suddenly darted to one side, striking the front wheel. It fell, and Capt. Whiting pulled up and went back. He found the bird dying, and with its wings and legs drawn up and crushed, probably by the spokes, through the force of the revolutions of the wheel.'(9)

The obituary continues 'With the rank of Captain, he was transferred first to Watford and then to Ireland, where he spent fifteen years at Belfast, Shankill, Portadown and Londonderry. His name stands high in Londonderry for his heroic work during the riots which took place at the time. Night and day calls came for ‘the wee Army Captain’ from men and women in trouble and distress.

The Major is also remembered for his faithful work in Motherwell (Scotland) and in Manchester and Newcastle, where he was the Divisional Manager. A period of sick furlough intervened before his next appointment as Divisional Manager for Liverpool.

Here the Major was seized with illness. Even the doctor who was called in was deeply impressed by the Major’s devotion to the Saviour. Removed to hospital the Major lay for eight weeks in a ward, where doctors and nurses alike greatly esteemed him for his patience. Afterward he travelled to Newcastle, where he passed away suddenly, almost his last words being ‘Jesus, Jesus!’.'(8)

George died in Heaton, near Newcastle Upon Tyne, in 1937. Probate records show that he left effects totalling £278 19s 10d to Gertrude, who survived him.(6)


(1) Birth Register. 4th Quarter 1877, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 477
(2) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Parish Registers of St Mary's Church, Haverhill. Fiche 578/4/p28 of 37
(3) Marriage Register. 1st Quarter 1900, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 801
(4) 1869 Kelly's Post Office Directory.
(5) Death Register. 2nd Quarter 1880, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 285
(6) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941
(7) Death Register. 2nd Quarter 1937, Newcastle T District, Volume 10b Page 129
(8) Obituary of Major George James Whiting from 'War Cry', 1937, issue ?
(9) Essex Newsman, Saturday 18 July 1908, p2
(10) England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, Index, FamilySearch, Batch No.103809-1, Film No.1657479