Kate Mary Ann Whiting 1868-1919

Parents: Joseph Whiting and Ellen Nunn (1)
Born: 13th June 1868 in Haverhill. (1)
Baptised: 8th July 1868 at St Mary's Parish Church, Haverhill.(2)
Married: None
Children: None
Died: 1919 in the Ipswich District.(5)

Bio: Catherine, or Kate as she seems to be known on most records after her birth/baptism, was the second child of Joseph Whiting, innkeeper at the Greyhound Pub in Haverhill, and Ellen Nunn. Their first born, Joseph, had died in infancy.

Kate's early life must have been fairly unsettled, because it seems that her father Joseph deserted the family and emigrated to Australia. Because he left so few clues behind him it is not possible to say with complete conviction that this is the case, however, what seems clear is that Kate grew up with no father present.

On the 1871 census Kate and her mother Ellen are living as lodgers in Steeple Bumpstead village with Mary Betts, 40, a widowed tailoress originally from Sturmer, and Mary's son Charles, 19, a labourer, born in Steeple Bumpstead. Ellen's status here is still given as 'married'.

It turns out that Mary was Ellen's older sister. She had married Harry Betts in 1851.(3) On the 1841 census we see her living with her parents John and Abigail Nunn in Sturmer village. This is before Ellen was born.

Ten years later on the 1881 census we find Kate, now 12 and a scholar, staying at the Red Lion Pub, in Sturmer. It is run at this time by Publican John Curtis, 48, originally of Westley, Cambs, and his wife Mary Ann, 50, who turns out to be the same Mary from the previous census who has since remarried. Also living there are Annie Betts, 11, a cousin of Kate born in Saffron Walden, and the oddly-named Healillah Brewster, 14, a domestic servant, born in Pleshey, Essex.

Kate's mother Ellen isn't present here. It looks like she decided to start over again and leave her daughter in the care of her sister.

Ellen married once more, and stuck with what she knew, marrying another Innkeeper - this time a widower. His name was William Smith, and he had previously been the Innkeeper of the Royal Exchange in Haverhill where we find him on the 1871 census.

When Ellen married William, on 25th September 1877 at St Andrew's, Holborn,(4) we find that she had listed herself as a widow. If Joseph had run off to Australia as I suspect, he was actually still alive. If, however, he had absconded in 1869 then after seven years he could be declared dead in absentia, and this was generally acknowledged to be a good enough excuse to stand up in court if things came to that.

At the time of her second marriage, Ellen was living at 5 Harpur Street, Theobalds Road. The 1881 census sees her and William running The Cock Inn at Botesdale, Suffolk. There is a daughter, Fanny, 12, from William's first marriage and they have a child of their own, Rose, 8, who was born in Haverhill.

Sadly, Kate's life seems to have unfolded in a less satisfactory way.

On the next census in 1891 Kate is an inmate at the District Union Workhouse at St Peter's, Ipswich. Her age is given as 22, birthplace as Haverhill, and she is described as an 'imbecile'.

We have no way of knowing how long she'd been there, whether she had remained with her aunt or whether she had ever been back to live with her mother.

What seems likely is that she remained in these circumstances.

She is on the 1901 census, still listed as an imbecile, at the District Union Workhouse at Rushmere, Ipswich, although her birthplace is given as Ipswich here.

On the 1911 census we again see a Kate Whiting of the correct age at the Union Workhouse, Woodbridge Road, Rushmere, Ipswich. She is listed as 'formerly a domestic servant' and although her birthplace is given as Ipswich here too, I feel these are clerical errors.

I am almost certain Kate died in 1919 in the Ipswich district.(5) The age is correct, and ties in with what we know of her later life.


(1) Birth Index. 3rd Quarter 1868, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 405
(2) Suffolk Baptism Index, SFHS, Clare Deanery 1813-1900
(3) Marriage Index. 4th Quarter 1851, Risbridge District, Volume 12 Page 789
(4) Guildhall, St Andrew Holborn, Register of marriages, 1875 - 1878, P69/AND2/A/01/Ms 6672/28.
(5) Death Register. 1st Quarter 1919, Ipswich District, Volume 4a Page 1472