Mary Ann Whiting 1866-1947

Parents: Boaz Whiting and Emma Challis
Born: 1 December 1866 in Bethnal Green, Middlesex (?)(11)
Baptised: ?
Married: George Marsh, 30, batchelor, labourer, of Haverhill, son of Elizabeth Marsh, on 14th March 1891 at the Registry Office, Haverhill. Witnessed by Frank and Mahala Challis.(2)
Children: Emily Mercy Whiting b.1884 (illegitimate) died aged 6, Albert Joseph Marsh b.1891, Frederick Marsh b.1893, Ernest G Marsh b.1894, Emily M Marsh b.1896, Hilda M Marsh b.1898, Nelson Marsh b.1899 and Frank Marsh b.1903
Died: 1st March 1947, of myocardial degeneration and arterio sclerosis at St Audrey's Hospital, Melton.(6)

Bio: Mary Ann was probably born in Bethnal Green, Middlesex in late 1866 prior to her parents moving back to Haverhill. She is on the 1871 census living with her parents, grandmother and half-brother Frank Challis in Crowland, Haverhill. The 1881 census sees Boaz and Emma relocating to Union Square. Mary Ann is still living with them and working as an errand girl, whilst her half-brother also remains and works as a rag gatherer. She had an illegitimate daughter, Emily Mercy, born on 27th August 1884 at Castle Camps.(9) Her occupation is not given on the birth certificate, but the implication is that Mary was living outside of Haverhill at the time. Familysearch has the child being baptised on 27th June 1886 in Haverhill(10). Emily Mercy died of capillary bronchitis pertussis (whooping cough) on 5th February 1891 aged 6. Mary Ann was living at 92 Burton End when her daughter was buried at Haverhill Cemetery on 11 February 1891.(5)Mary Ann married George Marsh just prior to the 1891 census, and on this we see them living together at 92 Burton End, Haverhill. George is working as an agricultural labourer. He was the illegitimate son of Elizabeth Marsh, but confusingly this was not the same Elizabeth Marsh who was Boaz Whiting's third wife although they had both lived in Burton End at various times and both had illegitimate children. George's mother was the daughter of William (originally of Withersfield) and Sarah Marsh and we see them all on the 1861 census living in Burton End with young George.(7) Boaz' wife Elizabeth was the daughter of James Marsh of Haverhill.(8)

It seems Mary Ann and George remained in Burton End after their marriage, as their son Nelson was born at no.108 in 1899.

Mary Ann and George were to have five children before the next census, and they are all present living with Mary Ann (known here as 'Polly') at 138 Burton End, Haverhill, at the time of the 1901 census. Mary Ann is working as an Army canvas bag maker, but although she is listed as married, George is not present for some reason.

George, or James George to give his full name, died in 1902 at the age of 42.(3) Maybe he was hospitalized at the time of the census the previous year?

Mary Ann is a widow on the 1911 census. She is working as a laundress and living in School Road, Kedington, with sons Albert Joseph Marsh, 20, Nelson, 11, and Frank, 9. This is a first appearance for Albert Joseph. It seems from the Suffolk Baptism Register that he was born in 1890 at 154 Burton End. At the time of baptism in 1896, his parents are listed as James George and Mary Ann but it seems he may have been an illegitimate child as they were only married in 1891. Perhaps, then, George was not the father? This is not conclusive as Albert Joseph's birth is actually on the GRO register for the third quarter 1891(4) and we see him on the 1901 census as 'Albert' staying with his grandparents on his fathers side.

Tracking Mary Ann down after this point proved to be quite tricky, but she does seem to make an appearance on the 1939 register at White Horse Cottage, Kedington, as a widow living next-door to a couple called Bertie and Daisy E Marsh, born in 1905 and 1910 respectively. Bertie was the son of Frank Marsh and Ruby Holden, and was probably a relative of Mary Ann's late husband. His occupation is given as 'repairer and cleaner of English egg boxes' - his dream job, no doubt(!). If this is her, then Mary Ann was said to have been born on 1st December 1866 according to the 1939 register (11).

It turns out that Mary Ann survived George by almost fifty years, and died on 1st March 1947 at Melton Hospital. She had been living at 19 Haverhill Road, Kedington, prior to this with her son Nelson and his wife Amy. She had never married again.

An obituary from a local paper [unidentifed] read as follows: "The funeral took place on Thursday afternoon at Kedington Churchyard, of Mrs. Mary Anne Marsh, who died the previous Saturday, at the age of 80 years. The deceased, who was a native of Haverhill was the widow of the late George Marsh, who pre-deceased her some 45 years ago. She leaves 5 sons (two of whom are in Canada ) and 2 daughters to mourn their loss. The mourners were Messrs. A.J., Fred and Nelson Marsh (sons), Mrs A Heckford (s/b Hickford) and Mrs. A. R. Pleasants (daughters), Mrs A. J. Marsh and Mrs. Nelson Marsh (daughters-in-law). There was one large cross as a floral tribute from "The family home and abroad." with the following additional inscription "Meet you in the Homeland in the Morning."

Thanks to Sheila Marsh for the obituary notice from the papers of her father-in-law, information on Emily Mercy Whiting and the sighting on the 1939 register.

Thanks also to Jo Taylor, great granddaughter of Mary Ann, for information on her and the photo of her in old age.

Photo of Mary Ann with kind permission of Jo Taylor. Right Click and Open in a New Tab to enlarge


(1) Birth Register. 4th Quarter 1867, Islington district, Volume 1b, Page 364. (since discovered to be incorrect.)
(2) Marriage Register. 1st Quarter 1891, Risbridge district, Volume 4a Page 821
(3) Death Register. 1st Quarter 1902, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 519
(4) Birth Register. 3rd Quarter 1891, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 671
(5) SFHS, Suffolk Burial Index, issue 2, 1538-1900
(6) Death Register. 1st Quarter 1947, Deben District, Volume 4b Page 1047
(7) 1861 English Census, Piece: 1124; Folio: 105; Page: 32; GSU roll: 542758.
(8) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Parish Registers of St Mary's Church, Haverhill, 1892-1924, FL578/4/19
(9) Birth Register. 4th Quarter 1884, Linton District, Volume 3b Page 519
(10) England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, index, FamilySearch, Batch No.103809-1, Film No.1657479
(11) 1939 Register. The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6666B
(12) Death Register. 1st Quarter 1891, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 425