Ruth Whiting 1834-1892?

Parents: Joseph Whiting and Rebecca Cole (1)
Born: 30th July 1834 in Burton End, Haverhill.(1)
Baptised: 7th December 1835 at St Mary's Parish Church, Haverhill. At this time she is listed as living in Burton End.(1) She is listed as being baptised again on 16th June 1840 at St Mary's Parish Church.(3)
Her parents are residing in the Poor House. In both instances she has the same date of birth which would seem to rule out two children with the same name, one dying in infancy.

Married: Joseph Wood, 23, bachelor, shoemaker of 11 John Street, Shoreditch son of William Wood, shoemaker on 9th July 1860 at St James Church, Shoreditch. Witnessed by Jessie Nunn and Caroline Drury.(2)
Children: Joseph William Wood b.1870 and Maud Wood b.1873
Died: 1892 in the Whitechapel district?(9)

Bio: Ruth is living with her father and mother and siblings in Burton End at the time of the 1841 census. It appears she is working as a live-in servant for James Fenner, a veterinary surgeon living in Haverhill High Street at the time of the 1851 census. Ruth's parents and siblings relocated to London around 1860 and she went with them. There she met Joseph Wood, maybe an associate of her brothers Edmund and Boaz who were also shoemakers. She was living two doors down from him at 9 John Street, Shoreditch at the time of their marriage. As her father is listed on the marriage entry as Joseph Whiting, weaver, and the dates tie in with the family move to this area I am happy that this is her.

When the census is taken next year, they are living at 3 Ames Place, Bethnal Green with Joseph's father William. By the 1871 census, they have a son Joseph William, and are living at 10 Adelaide Square, Islington. Ruth is working as a needlewoman. Also living with them is their niece Sophia, daughter of Edmund Whiting.

Ruth and family seemed at first to disappear completely after the 1871 census. But then by chance the discovery of her niece Sophia on the 1881 census revealed her possible whereabouts.

A Ruth Russell is living at 10 Ann's Place, Shoreditch, on the 1881 census.(4) She is the same age as our Ruth, but most importantly she, too, was born in Haverhill.

She is married to Alfred P Russell, 57, a wood turner born locally. There are Russell children by the names of Charles, John, Joseph and Maud present.

And Sophia Whiting is living with them, as a servant and machinist.

Surely then, this must be Ruth Wood nee Whiting now Russell? The discovery that Alfred Russell was a widower on the 1871(5) census adds to the growing quantity of circumstantial evidence. There is also record of the death in Bethnal Green of a Joseph Wood of exactly the right age to be Ruth's husband in 1879.(6)

The Creed register of Waterloo Road Workhouse, Bethnal Green shows him dying on 5th July 1879 having previously lived at 9 New Tyson Street before entering the Workhouse on 27th May.(8)

The fact that there is no record of a marriage gives us cause to suspect that Ruth was only 'married' to Alfred Russell for census purposes, and this is borne out by her appearance as Ruth Wood in the next census in 1891. Here she is living as a Charwoman and head of the household in Virginia Road, Bethnal Green. Her son Joseph Wood, a handy man, is living with her as well as a daughter Maud Wood, a button maker - who appeared on the previous census as Maud Russell.

There is no sign of Alfred or any of the Russells, so maybe that relationship had run its course or Alfred may have died with Ruth never actually marrying him.

It is not clear what happens to Ruth after this. I cannot find her on further censuses, so perhaps she died not long after.

On the 1901 census it looks like her daughter Maud Wood is living at 9 Chapel Street, Bethnal Green, as a boarder with Rebecca Nunn, 38, who is an upholsterer and button maker.(7) Maud is undertaking the same work, which ties in with her occupation on the previous census. I feel that Rebecca Nunn is her cousin, the daughter of Ruth's sister Sarah who married Thomas Nunn.

A strong possibility for the death date of Ruth is 1892 in the Whitechapel district.(9) Here, the age given at death is spot-on although the district appears to be the one adjacent to where we last saw Ruth. Her death at this time would explain her absence in later censuses.


(1) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Parish Registers of St Mary's Church, Haverhill. Fiche 578/4/9 of 37
(2) London Metropolitan Archives, Saint James, Bermondsey, Register of marriages, P71/JS, Item 011
(3) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Parish Registers of St Mary's Church, Haverhill. Fiche 578/4/10 of 37
(4) 1881 Census: Class: RG11; Piece: 383; Folio: 9; Page: 12; GSU roll: 1341083.
(5) 1871 Census: Class: RG10; Piece: 437; Folio: 46; Page: 24; GSU roll: 823356.
(6) Death Register. 3rd Quarter 1879, Bethnal Green District, Volume 1c Page 131
(7) 1901 Census: Class: RG13; Piece: 285; Folio: 166; Page: 38.
(8) Religious Creed Register, Waterloo Road Workhouse, BEBG/290/005, 1875-1880
(9) Death Index. 2nd Quarter 1892, Whitechapel District, Volume 1c Page 197