Harriet Backler 1856-1930

Parents: George Backler and Susan Argent.
Born: 1st quarter of 1856 in Haverhill.(1)
Baptised: ?
Married (1): Horace Odessa Whiting, batchelor of Chaunty Croft, Haverhill, son of John Whiting, labourer, in the 1st Quarter of 1876.(3)
Children: Catherine Agnes Whiting b.1875, Lily Jane Whiting b.1877 and Ethel Gertrude Whiting b.1879.
Married (2): Charles Brown, 19, plumber and glazier, of Haverhill, son of Charles Brown, painter, in the 4th Quarter of 1882. (4)
Children: Charles Brown b.1882, George William Brown b.1884, John Brown b.1886 died aged 10, Bertha Minnie Brown b.1888, Gertrude Emily Brown b.1890, Hubert Richard Brown b.1892, Archibald Brown b.1894 and Dora May Brown b.1898
Died: January 1930 in Haverhill. Buried on 11th January 1930 at Haverhill Cemetery.(5,6)

Bio: Harriet appears on the 1861 census living with her parents George and Susan Backler (who had married in 1855 2) and siblings in Chauntry Croft, Haverhill. Her father is a silk weaver, and she has three sisters, Hannah, Jane and Rebecca. Susan's mother Rebecca Argent, 47, a needlewoman, is staying with them too.

Harriet's father George died some time after this census, and by the next one in 1871 we see Susan living as a widow in Chauntry Croft. She is working as a trousers finisher. Harriet is a sewing machinist, her elder sister Hannah is a cotton weaver, and she now has three brothers - George, Louis and Weeden (or Weeding). It seems that the Backlers in the area preferred the more unusual christian names on occasion - looking at birth indexes for the period we have children from other Backler families being given such topical first names as 'Inkerman', 'Delhi' and my favourite 'St Edmunds Bury'.

Also living with Susan and family is a fellow widower, James King, 39, and his two children.

Harriet married Odessa Whiting, one of her neighbours in Chauntry Croft, in 1876 and settled down with him in newly built Eden Row. They had three children, Catherine, Lily and Ethel. Because her first child Catherine Agnes was born in december 1875, just before her marriage, there is a slight doubt that this was Odessa's child. This is borne out by the referral to Catherine Agnes as 'Whiting Backler' on the 1891 census.

In 1880, Odessa was involved in a fatal accident which occurred at Gurteens. Whilst upstairs, he and a friend used a hoist as a short-cut to return to ground level - with disastrous consequences.(see Odessa's page)

We see Harriet as a widow with her three daughters on the 1881 census. They are living in Eden Row, and Harriet is working as a jacket maker.

The following year, in 1882, Harriet married again(4). Her husband was Charles Brown, some seven years her junior.

When we see them on the 1891 census, They are living at 4 Waveney Terrace, Haverhill. Harriet has now risen to the position of overlooker at Gurteens, something that must have been quite an achievement.

Charles is a plumber and glazier. Living in the household are Agnes Kate, and Lily Jane, Harriet's daughters from her previous marriage. New additions are sons Charles, George and John, and daughters Bertha and Emily.

Moving ten years on, we see the Browns living at 91 High Street, Haverhill, on the 1901 census. Harriet is now working from home as a sewing machinist and jacket tailoress and Charles is a plumber and decorator along with son George. Younger children Minnie, Hubert, Archie and Dora are also living at home. Harriet's children from her marriage to Odessa have left.

The family remained at this address, and we see them here again on the 1911 census. Harriet has retired, but Charles still works as a plumber and house painter. He is listed as being an employer and a worker. Charles two eldest sons Charles and George are both living with them and assisting him in his business. Also at home are Archibald, a grocers shop assistant, and Dora who is at school. A granddaughter, Constance Brown is staying with them. Who's daughter she was is not clear. According to this census, Harriet had 9 children with Charles, 1 of whom (John) died. I have 8 acounted for - not sure who the extra one is.

Charles had died on 18th June 1918 and was buried at the local cemetery. He left effects of £667 7s. 5d. to Harriet.(5)

As for Harriet, who seems to have lived a very productive life, she died in 1930 and was also buried at Haverhill Cemetery.(6,7)


(1) Birth Register. 1st Quarter 1856, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 378
(2) Marriage Register. 4th Quarter 1855, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 763
(3) Marriage Register. 1st Quarter 1867, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 503
(4) Marriage Register. 4th Quarter 1882, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 934
(5) Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941.
(6) Haverhill Cemetery, Ref.4674. http://www.haverhill-uk.com/pages/burial-records-137.htm
(7) Death Register. 1st Quarter 1930, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 1015.