Joseph Whiting 1808-1868

Parents: John Whiting and Mary Scotcher.(3)
Born: 29th June 1808.(3)
Baptised: 29th October 1809 at St Peter & St Paul's Church, Kedington.(3)
Married: Rebecca Cole, spinster of Haverhill, on 6th Nov 1826 at St Mary's Parish Church, Haverhill. Witnessed by Nathaniel Webb, Sarah Webb and Samuel Bigmore.(1)
Children: Hannah Whiting b.1827, Sarah Whiting b.1830, Edmund Whiting b.1832, Ruth Whiting b.1834, Catherine Elizabeth Whiting b.1836, Boaz Whiting b.1839, Jesse Whiting b.1842, Phoebe Whiting b.1844, Anne Whiting b.1845, Joseph Whiting b.1847 died in infancy, and Ellen Elizabeth Whiting b.1850
Died: Bethnal Green, London. 1868. Buried at Victoria Park Cemetery on 16th January 1868.(2,5)

Bio: Joseph is confirmed on Militia certificates held at the Suffolk Record Office(9) as being the son on John Whiting, who was at that time a substitute in the West Suffolk Militia for Henry Choat of Withersfield.

There is a letter to the overseers of the poor of the parish of Haverhill stating that they were required to pay maintenance to his wife Mary, who was in Kedington looking after her new son Joseph. Joseph is mentioned here as having been born on 29th June 1808.(9)

Joseph was baptised at St Peter & St Paul's Church in Kedington in October 1809. His birthplace on censuses is given as Haverhill, not Kedington, whereas John and Mary's other son John is listed as being born in Kedington on several censuses. We know that Joseph's mother Mary was living in Haverhill on 7th May 1807 when the Parish was issued with an order to pay her 18d maintenance weekly. Presumably she moved to Kedington shortly after his birth.

Of his early life in Kedington we know little, but by the age of eighteen Joseph was married to Rebecca Cole, and by the 1841 census he is living in Haverhill in Burton End with his wife and children. He is a weaver.

At the Suffolk Midsummer Sessions on 6th July 1847 at Bury St Edmunds Joseph 'pleaded guilty of stealing a waistcoat, from the Haverhill Union House, the property of the guardians.'(6) However, the criminal registers list him as being found 'not guilty'.(7) How this verdict transpired in view of his plea is unclear. The Bury and Norwich Post of 14th July 1847 says 'Joseph Whiting, charged with stealing a waistcoat, from the Haverhill Union, the property of the guardians, was acquitted.'(8)

Joseph and Rebecca had a son Joseph Whiting, born in 1847 who died of pneumonia aged 9 months on 3rd May 1848 in Chauntry Croft. His death certificate describes his father as Joseph Whiting, weaver, and Phoebe Basham was present at the death. Young Joseph was buried at St Mary's church on 6th May 1848. He was probably the Joseph Allen Whiting whose birth was registered in the 3rd quarter of 1847(11).

On the 1851 census the family are now living in Chauntry Croft. Children Sarah and Edmund are still living at home, along with a daughter 'Liz'?, who's age is listed as 11 (this would appear likely to be Catherine Elizabeth, but with the age there is some question as to whether this is Boaz and their sex has been confused), Jesse and Anne. Also a grandson, John, aged 1. Joseph is still a weaver, and interestingly there is a tick in the box for 'blind or deaf and dumb' although this is not repeated in later censuses.

Between 1851 and 1861, the family move to London and Joseph becomes a dock worker. The reasons behind the move are unclear. This work appears to have been of a temporary nature as his occupation is listed as weaver on his son Edmund's marriage entry in 1855 and again in 1862 on his sons Jesse and Boaz's.

The 1861 census shows Joseph working as a dock labourer, and living at 2 Mount Square, Bethnal Green, London with his wife and two sons Boaz, now a silk weaver and Jesse, a shoemaker. They have a lodger, Harriett Hughes, a tailoress, who will become the first of Boaz's 4 wives in 1862. Also living in the house are Joseph's eldest son Edmund (known on this census as Edward), a Shoemaker, and his family. We know that Edmund's youngest child Sophia, was born in Haverhill in 1858 so we could conclude that the family had only recently relocated to London.

It it is almost certain that Joseph dies in Bethnal Green district in early 1868. The burial records of Victoria Park Cemetery, Hackney, show an entry for a Joseph Whiting, 59, who was buried on 16th January 1868.(5) His placed of residence is not listed, but the age given is certainly close enough to be an acceptable match. The cemetery, too, was close to Joseph's last known place of residence and a much-used one at the time. Opened in 1842, it was a privately owned cemetery but was not managed very well. It had fallen into such a bad state of repair by 1876 it was closed for burials and was estimated to contain some 300,000 bodies.(4) The cemetery was converted into a public park shortly afterwards, and is now Meath Gardens.

Rebecca, Joseph's wife, moved back to Haverhill and is listed on the 1871 census as a 'cotton weavers widow'.


(1) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Parish Registers of St Mary's Church, Haverhill. Fiche 578/4
(2) Death Register. 1st Quarter 1868, Bethnal Green district, Volume 1c Page 148.
(3) SFHS, Suffolk Baptism Index, Clare Deanery 1754-1812.
(5) Register of Burials at Victoria Park Cemetery, Hackney, Middlesex from 1867 to 1868, RG8 Piece 47,
(6) The Ipswich Journal, Saturday July 10th 1847, issue 5644. C19th British Library Newspapers.
(7) England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892. National Archives, Class: HO 27; Piece: 83; Page: 177.
(8) The Bury and Norwich Post, Wednesday July 14th 1847, issue 3394. C19th British Library Newspapers.
(9) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Overseers Militia Certificates, FL578/7/41
(10) Death Register. 2nd Quarter 1848, Risbridge district, Volume 12 Page 292.
(11) Birth Register. 3rd Quarter 1847. Risbridge district, Volume 12 Page 363.