George Whiting 1808-1884

'Incendiarism at Withersfield', Suffolk Summer Assize, Ipswich Journal, 5th August 1848, issue 5700.

Right Click and open in a new tab to enlarge.

James Chapman's convict details.

Right Click and open in a new tab to enlarge.

Parents: Joseph Whiting and Sarah Farecloth (1)
Born: 12th May 1808 in Burton End, Haverhill.(1)
Baptised: 12th June 1808 at St Mary's Parish Church, Haverhill (1)
Married: Rose Rowlinson of Withersfield, daughter of Henry Rowlinson, on 25th October 1829 at St Mary's Church, Withersfield.(2)
Children: Samuel Rowlinson/Whiting b.1828 (stepson) died aged 18, Sarah Whiting b.1831, William Whiting b.1833, Hannah Whiting b.1835, Richard Whiting b.1838, Elizabeth Whiting b.1841, Susan Whiting b.1844 died aged 5, Henry Whiting b.1847 died in infancy and John Whiting b.1848 died in infancy.
Died: December 1884 in Withersfield. Buried at St Mary's Church, Withersfield on 20th December 1884.(3,4)

Bio: George was born in Burton End, Haverhill and baptised in 1808. He married Rose Rowlinson, of Withersfield in 1829 and went to live with her there. How do we know this is the same George? The ages given on the censuses are virtually the same, and added to this is the fact that he is listed as being born in Haverhill. Also, there is no record of another George born in Haverhill around this time.

Rose appears to have been baptised as Rosie Rawlinson on 15th June 1806 at Withersfield Church, the daughter of Henry Rawlinson and Hannah Dawkins.(7) There was certainly a great deal of variation with the spelling of the surname at this time.

On the 1841 census George and Rose are living in Withersfield village. His surname is given as 'Whiten', he is an agricultural labourer and has six children, Samuel, Sarah, William, Hannah, Richard and Elizabeth. Also living with them is Rose's father, Henry Rowlinson, who is 85 years old.

Samuel was not actually George's son, for he was baptised on 31st August 1828 at St Mary's, Withersfield, and his father is listed as being Joseph Rowlinson, labourer. Does that mean Rose was married before? The evidence points to Samuel being illegitimate, for the fact that Joseph was the father is put as an afterthought. Also, Rose was baptised a Rowlinson (or Rawlinson) in 1806. Joseph seems to have been a (hopefully) distant relative, then. Not unlikely, as Rowlinson was a very common name in Withersfield.

Samuel doesn't appear on later censuses, I suspect he is the Samuel Rawlinson (sic) of Withersfield who died aged 18 and was buried at St Mary's on 23rd May 1847.(9)

In 1848 George had the misfortune to be the indirect victim of an incident of arson in the village on 9th April 1848.

Although the direct target of the attacks was Frederick Olley, a farmer, George's house was close by and got burnt down. Apparently this was the second time it had happened in three years! The two perpetrators Joseph Moore, 24, and James Chapman, 18, were eventually caught and sentenced to transportation for life. The account of their trial in the Ipswich Journal of 5th August 1848(8) is detailed and makes good reading, giving a real insight into the locality at the time. (see the newspaper extract on the left)

There is a reference to a John Whiting, labourer, of Withersfield, in the account. He overheard the two prisoners talking about the fire at the Queens Head, Haverhill. It is not clear who he was, as George and Rose had only just recently had a son of that name.

John Whiting says he knew the prisoners from childhood, so the implication is that he was around their age, that is roughly in his early twenties. My hunch is that this is John, son of Stephen. Born around 1817 he would have been about 27 at the time. No Withersfield connection I am aware of, but he is missing from the 1841 census. George and Rose's family are the only Whitings in Withersfield on the 1841 census, but then there could easily have been other Whitings living there between censuses.

As a postscript to the above, James Chapman was transported to Australia four years later. (see details bottom left) I couldn't trace what happened to Joseph Moore.

The 1851 census finds George and Rose again living in Withersfield village, this time with children Sarah, Richard, William and Elizabeth. Their surname is still spelt 'Whiten' here. They had had three children, Susan, Henry and John who had all died in childhood in the 1840's.

On the 1861 census, the surname finally reverts to 'Whiting'. Here Rose's name is given as Rosannah, though. George's occupation is, again, agricultural labourer and they are living at Withersfield village green with their daughter Sarah, now 31.

For the 1871 census George and Rosey have moved to Church Street, Withersfield and there daughter Sarah, a domestic servant is still living with them. They have a lodger, Elizabeth Rowlinson, 76, a farmer's widow, who is presumably a relative of Rose.

Rose died in 1880, and was buried at St Mary's church on 21st March.(5,6) The 1881 census is the last one George appears on, living with his daughter Sarah in Withersfield village. He was to die in 1884 and was buried at St Mary's on 20th December.


(1) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Parish Registers of St Mary's Church, Haverhill. Fiche 578
(2) Genealogical Society of Utah, Place: Withersfield, Suffolk, England; Collection: ; BTs; Date Range: 1687 - 1837; Film Number: 989585.
(3) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Parish Registers of St Mary's Church, Withersfield, FL653/4/p3
(4) Death Register. 4th Quarter 1884, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 350
(5) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Parish Registers of St Mary's Church, Withersfield, FL653/4/p8
(6) Death Register. 1st Quarter 1880, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 336
(7) Genealogical Society of Utah, Place: Withersfield, Suffolk, England; Collection: ; BTs; Batch Number CO6277-2; Film Number: 952205.
(8) Ipswich Journal, Saturday, 5th August 1848, Issue 5700, 'Summer Assize: Incendiarism at Withersfield', C19th British Library Newspapers
(9) Suffolk Burial Index, SFHS, 1538-1900