Jesse Whiting c.1842-1909

The Suffolk and Essex Free Press, 11th September 1889, 'Assaulting a Brother',

Jesse Whiting (courtesy of Sharon,

Parents: Joseph Whiting and Rebecca Cole
Born: c.1842 in Haverhill.(10)
Baptised: ?
Married (1): Ellen Smith, spinster of Chauntry Croft, daughter of Henry Smith, Brazier(?), on 28th September 1862 at St Mary's Parish Church, Haverhill. Witnessed by William Poole and Amelia French.(1,2)
Children: Emma Whiting b.1863, Mary Ann Whiting b.1865, Jane Whiting b.1868, Joseph Whiting b.1869, David Whiting b.1872 died in infancy, Alice Whiting b.1873, Benjamin Whiting b.1876, Jabez Balfour Whiting b.1878 and Kate Whiting b.1881?(9)
Married (2): Elizabeth Hunt in 1883.(5)
Died: April 1909 at Addenbrookes Hospital. Buried on 5th April 1909 at Haverhill Cemetery. (6,7)

Bio: I'm unable to find Jesse's baptism record, but we know from censuses that he was born around 1842 in Haverhill.

He is almost certainly the 'Male' Whiting recorded in the GRO registers in the first quarter of 1842, as the mother's maiden name in this instance is Cole.(10)

On the 1851 census he is living with his parents Joseph and Rebecca and his brothers and sisters in Chauntry Croft, Haverhill - his eldest brother Edmund is a shoemaker, and he was to follow in his footsteps along with his other brother Boaz. He relocated to London with his family at the end of the 1850's, and he is found living with them at 2 Mount Square, Bethnal Green on the 1861 census. He is a shoemaker.

Jesse must have moved back to Haverhill within the next year, because he married Ellen Smith here in 1862 and his first three children were all born in Haverhill. The 1871 census finds Jesse has set up household in Burton End, and is listed as a Journeyman Shoemaker which means he'd successfully completed an apprenticeship and was working for others in his craft. His wife Ellen is a cotton weaver, and they have four children, Emma, Mary Anne, Jane and Joseph. Joseph appears to have been born in Withersfield, a village adjacent to Haverhill to the north, so it seems they must have lived there for a time around 1869/70.

In 1879 Jesse and his daughter Jane, 11, got a ticking off from the Haverhill School Board and were fined under the Education Act for attendance offences - 'repeated warnings had been given' about his daughter Jane missing school. They both ended up with a fine of 2s 6d.(8) On the next census in 1881 Jesse and Ellen have a full quota of children and they're all living in Burton End two doors down from Jesse's elder brother Edmund. Eldest daughters Emma and Annie are Jacket and trouser machinists respectively, and are most likely working at Gurteen's factory in town. Jane is working as a nurse maid.

Later that year, Jesse's wife Ellen was to die at the young age of forty. She was buried at Haverhill Cemetery on 22nd October 1881.(3,4)

Jesse married again in 1883 to Elizabeth Hunt, a widow originally of Cornwall(5).

At the Haverhill Petty Sessions on the 9th September 1889(11), under the Chairmanship of Major General Cecil Ives, Jesse was charged with assaulting his brother Boaz. Apparently there had been an ongoing feud between them for the past three or four years, and among other things Jesse had been annoyed with Boaz for encouraging his wife out drinking! It all came to a head on the night of 6th September at the Royal Standard beer house, Burton End, which was at this time run by another Whiting couple, George and Susannah, who were not closely related to Jesse and Boaz. The Suffolk and Essex Free Press gives a fascinating account of proceedings entitled 'Assaulting a Brother', and from this we get the full flavour of events:

"Jesse Whiting, shoemaker, Haverhill, was charged with assaulting his brother Boaz Whiting, on the 6th August at Haverhill. Plaintiff said the assault took place at the Royal Standard Beer House, Burton End, when he was knocked down by his brother, and kicked on the shoulder, saying 'that he would cut my flesh off my bones'.

The Chairman: 'It is a sad matter that two brothers should come before us like this'.

Defendant: 'I am very sorry, gentlemen, to have come before you, and I should not have acted as I did if he had not insulted me, and I was obliged to hit him'. Complainant: 'I never spoke to him'.

Chairman: 'How long have you been at variance?'.

Defendant: 'Four years'.

Complainant: 'He assaulted me 3 1/2 years ago and I took no notice of it'.

Defendant: 'Yes I know that, and what it was for. You encouraged my wife out drinking'.

Chairman: 'You have pleaded guilty to the assault. (addressing complainant) Have you any witness?'.

Complainant: 'Yes sir, my daughter'.

Chairman: 'Then let us hear her'.

Mary Ann Whiting [Confusingly, both Boaz and Jesse had daughters called Mary Ann, both born within two years of each other. The witness here was Boaz' daughter] said: 'I was with my father at Mrs Whiting's [presumably landlord George's wife Susannah Whiting] at the Royal Standard, on the 6th August. It was about half past ten at night. My father and uncle were sober, they were talking about going to Abingdon [this refers to Abington, which is ten miles west of Haverhill on the Cambridge Road (A1307)] to do some harvest, and my father said he had got a letter from a Mr Kemp saying he wanted my father to go, and three others, the my uncle jumped up and said, 'Can't I go, you old B____?' and knocked him down; my father said nothing to him'.

By defendant [possibly referring to the other Mary Ann, Jesse's daughter, here?]: 'I was in another room, but I could see and hear all. I did not hear my father say 'You old B____'.

Mr Bigmore: 'Was the door open, and anyone in the room?'.

Witness: 'Yes, and the room was full.'

The chairman, addressing defendant, said: 'You have admitted that you struck your brother. It is a very great pity you should live at variance you ought to forget old grievances and live peaceably together. The Bench have decided to deal leniently with you, and you must pay a fine of 1s and costs 6s 6d.

Defendant: 'Thank you, sir. Will you please give me time for payment'.

Chairman: 'The bench agree to allow you 14 days, and if it is not paid then you will go to prison for seven days."

We do not find out if Jesse paid or went to gaol. Either way, we are left to doubt if the brothers ever managed to patch up their grievances.

The Cambridge Daily News of 10th September also ran a smaller article on events, but they get Boaz name wrong and refer to him as Moses! We can only think that this clerical error stemmed from the fact that Moses Whiting was a well-known and notorious name connected with Haverhill around that time, and got mixed up in the reporter's mind even though he had been in prison for over ten years by 1889.

We see Jesse and Elizabeth living at 104 Burton End on the 1891 census. He is still a shoemaker, and his sons Benjamin and Jabez are living at home along with a daughter Kate whose age is given as nine - she is almost certainly a child of Jesse's first marriage to Ellen, who seems to match up with a GRO birth entry for 1881.(9) Judging by the dates involved it also seems likely Ellen's death may have been a result of complications surrounding her birth.

Without ordering their marriage certificate it's hard to get any clues about how Jesse and Elizabeth came to hook up, or whether she, too, was a widow at their time of marriage. On one census her birthplace is attributed to Plymouth, Devonshire whilst on another it's Cornwall. I'm pretty sure she's the Elizabeth Whiting, widow, who's at the Kedington Union Workhouse on the 1911 census. Here, her birthplace is given as Liskeard, Cornwall. Mind you, all this hasn't helped me find her on any censuses before her marriage to Jesse - yet!

We see Jesse for the last time on the 1901 census. He is still in Burton End, this time at number 146, and he is a shoe and bootmaker. He and Elizabeth are living alone, and she works as an army bag maker. Nextdoor is his brother, Boaz, also a shoe and bootmaker.

Jesse lived for eight more years, and died at Addenbrookes Hospital in April 1909. He was buried at Haverhill Cemetery on 5th April 1909.

Thanks to Sharon (littlemisshoo on for the picture of Jesse.


(1) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Parish Registers of St Mary's Church, Haverhill. Fiche 578/4/p26 of 37
(2) Marriage Register. 3rd Quarter 1862, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 541.
(3) Death Register. 4th Quarter 1881, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 293
(4) Haverhill Cemetery, Ref.1033.
(5) Marriage Register. 1st Quarter 1883, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 641
(6) Death Register. 2nd Quarter 1900, Cambridge District, Volume 3b Page 279
(7) Haverhill Cemetery, Ref.3348.
(8) The Bury and Norwich Post, Tuesday April 15th 1879, p.8, issue 5051. C19th British Library Newspapers. Part II
(9) Birth Register. 4th Quarter 1881, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 541
(10) Birth Register. 1st Quarter 1842, Risbridge District, Volume 12 Page 405
(11) Suffolk and Essex Free Press, 11th September 1889, p.5,