Harry Whiting 1876-1909

Parents: Thomas Whiting and Emma Barber
Born: 1876 in Haverhill.(1)
Baptised: ?
Married: None.
Children: None.
Died: June 1909 in Haverhill. Buried in Haverhill Cemetery on 2nd June 1909.(2,3)

Bio: Harry was the second child of Thomas and Emma, and he is present on the 1881 census living with them when they were boarders with the Page family in Crowland Road, Haverhill. Harry must have had a very disrupted childhood because his mother died in 1886 when he would have been ten, and also around this time his father made one of several 'stays' at Melton Asylum.

A reference in the Suffolk and Essex Free Press of 9th December 1891 may well refer to Harry: "The case of Thomas Whiting, Haverhill, in reference to sending his child away was adjourned as Mr Ellis Peek, attendance officer for the Haverhill School Board, asked that it might stand over till the new Board, hold their first meeting".

The 1891 census shows a Harry Whiting, born in Haverhill in 1876, staying at Fortescue House, Twickenham, which in 1878 had become one of the original Shaftesbury Homes for boys.(3) These had originated from a charity founded in 1843 by William Williams, a solicitors clerk who wanted to involve education to help combat poverty among street children in London.(2) The 7th Earl of Shaftesbury became a patron, thus giving his name to the homes. The first homes for children started off in redundant warships on the Thames with the aim of training the underprivileged youngsters for a life in the Navy, but later on several different locations were found and amongst those was Fortescue House, which had previously been a Police orphanage.

One wonders why Harry did not find his way into the Risbridge Union, a fate more likely for someone from Haverhill who'd fallen on hard times, and also what happened to him in the next ten years. It is plausible that he joined the forces, such was the nature of the Shaftesbury homes, but I have been unable to find any record of this.

Either way, Harry finds himself back in Haverhill for the 1901 census where he is staying at 52 Crowland Road at the house of Esther Ling nee Barber, a 48 year old widow who was Harry's aunt. Also staying there are his cousins Elijah, Emma and Ella Ling, and his uncle Jesse Barber, a brush hair weaver.

Harry's occupation is given as merchant marine store dealer.

We see a last reference to Harry in the Collector's report books of the Risbridge Poor-Law Union on 21st February 1908. Arthur Debenham, collector, states: 'Thomas Whiting in Asylum, there is a sum of about £23 in the hands of Inspector Smith. The son Harry Whiting states that the money belongs to him, and that if he could get it he would be prepared to pay something towards his father's maintenance.'(6)

It seems Harry met an early death in 1909 at the age of 33. A Harry Whiting, dealer, of exactly the right age is buried at Haverhill Cemetery that year.

Perhaps his death was the result of an accident? Hopefully more information will come to light in the future.


(1) Birth Register. 2nd Quarter 1876, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 484
(2) http://www.shaftesbury.org.uk/about_us/About+us
(3) http://www.twickenham-museum.org.uk/schools/school.asp?SchoolID=16
(4) Haverhill Cemetery, Ref.3361. http://www.haverhill-uk.com/pages/burial-records-137.htm
(5) Death Register. 2nd Quarter 1909, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 431
(6) Suffolk Record Office, Bury St Edmunds branch, 2746/4/3, Risbridge Poor Law Union, Collector's report books.