Horace Odessa Whiting 1855-1880

Parents: John Whiting and Susannah Pilcher.(1)
Born: 25th August 1855 in Chauntry Croft, Haverhill.(1,2)
Baptised: 30th December 1855 at St Mary's Parish Church, Haverhill.(1)
Married: Harriett Backler, spinster of Chaunty Croft, Haverhill, daughter of George Backler, weaver, deceased, in the 1st Quarter of 1876.(7)
Children: Catherine Agnes Whiting b.1875, Lily Jane Whiting b.1877 and Ethel Gertrude Whiting b.1879.
Died: end of June 1880 as the result of an accident at Gurteen's factory. Buried at Haverhill Cemetery on 29th June 1880. (5,6)

Bio: Horace Odessa, who seems to have mostly gone by the name Odessa, appears on the 1861 census in Chauntry Croft, Haverhill, living with his parents and siblings. At the time of the next census in 1871 he is still living in Chauntry Croft with his family, now working as a cotton weaver.

He make an appearance in The Bury and Norwich Post of 1st December 1874 for what appears to be some larking around with his mates that must have got out of hand: 'Breach of the peace - Thomas Farrant, Odessa Whiting, and Frank Wilds, were charged with using abusive language towards Elliot Adams, tending to a breach of the peace, on the 7th inst., at Haverhill - Defendants were ordered to enter into their own recognizances to keep the peace for six months.'(3) Elliot Adams was a shoemaker, about 30 years old. It is unclear what their beef with him was, but on the 1871 census he is listed as having a sister who is an 'idiot from birth'. Teenagers can be cruel sometimes, so it is possible the bullying may have had something to do with this.

Two years later in 1876, Odessa was to marry Harriett Backler, a jacket maker. They had three girls in the following years and lived in mill workers houses in Eden Road, Haverhill.

Odessa was a factory worker at Gurteen's factory (which his mostly likely where he met Harriett), and it was there at the end of June 1880 that the unfortunate circumstances that led to his death occurred.

The Essex Standard of 3rd July 1880 reports: 'HAVERHILL. FATAL ACCIDENT.- Mr.J.W.Iron, Deputy Coroner, has recently held an inquest at this place on the body of a labourer named Odessa Whiting, aged 25 years, who met with an accident at Messrs. Gurteen's factory. Deceased had occasion to go upstairs for some picking sticks, and when he had got them, he proposed to another labourer, that they should descend together by the hoist, which they had no business to use. They got in, and let it slide down, and in the descent, by some means deceased was thrown out, and received such injuries as caused death. A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.'(4)

Harriett is living with the children in Eden Road on the 1881 census. At the end of the next year she remarried, to Charles Brown, of Haverhill. Catherine, Lily and Ethel became part of the Brown family.


(1) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Parish Registers of St Mary's Church, Haverhill. Fiche 578/4/p12 of 37
(2) Birth Register. 3rd Quarter 1855, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 331
(3) The Bury and Norwich Post, Tuesday, 1st December 1874, p.8, issue 4823, C19th British Library Newspapers: part II
(4) The Essex Standard, Saturday, 3rd July 1880, p.5, issue 2586, C19th British Library Newspapers: part II
(5) Death Register. 3rd Quarter 1880, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 317
(6) Haverhill Cemetery, Ref.955 http://www.haverhill-uk.com/pages/burial-records-137.htm
(7) Marriage Register. 1st Quarter 1867, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 503