William Whiting c.1782-1866

Parents: James Whiting and Catherine Hilsdon?
Born: c.1782
Baptised: ?
Married: Ann Pool, on 5th January 1810 at St Mary's Parish Church, Haverhill (1)
Children: Hephzibah Whiting b.1812 died in infancy, Phoebe Whiting b.1814 died in infancy, Samuel Whiting b.1818 and Rebecca Whiting b.1823
Died: 9th January 1866 in Burton End, Haverhill. Buried at St Mary's Church, Haverhill on 15th January 1866.(3,4)

Bio: It is unclear when William was born, or who his parents were. From censuses we gather he must have been born around the early to mid 1780's.

I have reason to believe he was the son of James and Catherine Whiting. In 1820, James' sons John and Stephen joined the dissenting congregation at the Old Meeting House in Haverhill.(11) William is mentioned as joining at the same time. This is confirmed in Barnabas Webb's diary, p.186, as '1820 - Wm & Ste. Whiting'.(2) John is entered separately. It seems very likely that there is a family connection amongst these three as they all joined around the same time, and other branches of the Whiting family in Haverhill were not affiliated with this church during these years.

Other circumstantial evidence is that both James and William had daughters named Hephzibah - a name we don't find in other strands of the Whiting family in Haverhill. James' first born, also James, was baptised in 1782 - around the same year attributed to William. Oddly, there is no further mention I can find anywhere of him. No burial or census entries. Could it be that this is an incorrect baptism entry that actually denotes William, and that the father's name was entered instead of the child's?

We do know for certain from the Parish Registers when William was married. Barnabas Webb's diary confirms the marriage date and provides us with a valuable insight into his occupation presumably at the later time the details were entered there - 'William Whiting of the West Suffolk Militia, now quartered at Durham'.(2)

The Militia Certificates(9) at Suffolk Record Office (transcribed by Haverhill History Group) give us the date and circumstances of his enlistment: 'On 14th December 1807, William Whiting of Haverhill enrolled in the West Suffolk Militia as substitute for John Wyard of Elmsett, Suffolk. He married in 1810 as there is a certificate issued at Newcastle on 7th April of that year, also a magistrates order for maintenance for his wife, Ann, for 1/9d per week.'(6)

The certificate mentions William is in Captain William H Garnham's company of the Militia. Garnham had obtained a commission in the regiment on 25th July 1804.(10)

Looking at the Muster rolls for the Militia shows when he joined and that he was actually one of two William Whitings that were part of a new levy that received pay from 22nd December 1807.(12)

Muster Rolls also confirm that there was a Private William Whiting in Captain William Garnham's detachment stationed at Carlisle for 90 days from 25th December 1809 to 24th March 1810 getting pay of 1 shilling per day.(5) Although there is a note to the effect that he had obtained the permission of his commanding officer, there is no mention of how he managed to be back at St Mary's, Haverhill, getting married on the 5th January!

It is clear from records that there were several William Whitings all serving in various companies of the West Suffolk Militia at the same time. One is present on the muster rolls as a private for 25th January to 24th February 1805(5), in Captain Godfrey's 4th Company when they were garrisoned at Ipswich Barracks. He is present again on the rolls for 25th March to 24 April 1805 for similar reasons. After seeing the date of enrolment on the Militia certificates it seems this is not our man.

The Muster Rolls for Captain Bridgeman's 3rd Company show another Private William Whiting appearing for the first time in the period from 25th December 1806 to 24th December 1807, and again this does not quite tally with the certificates. This is at the same time the other William Whiting was still serving in 4th Company.

The Bury and Norwich Post notes the departure of the West Suffolk Militia for Durham in the news section for Bury St Edmunds on 8th June 1808. It says 'Yesterday the 1st Division of the West Suffolk Militia marched into this town, on their route for Durham.'(7)

Captain Garnham's company were based in Carlisle from 25th December 1809 to 24th March 1810. It looks like they moved to Newcastle from here, and were there when one of the certificates was issued on 7th April. On 9th June 1810 the Ipswich Journal states 'The West Suffolk Militia have removed from Newcastle Upon Tyne for Sunderland.'(8)

From the records available we can follow the movements of the Company William was in, but we can't explain how he was seemingly both in Carlisle and getting married in Haverhill on 5th January 1810.

William's militia service would most likely have finished when the militia was downsized following the cessation of hostilities with France after 1815.

From baptismal and burial records, coupled with an absence from the censuses, we can be pretty sure that William's daughters Hephzibah and Phoebe died in infancy. In several locations online Joseph Whiting is attributed to be the son of William and Ann, but I am unable to find solid evidence for this. On the 1841 census, we see William living in Burton End with his wife and children Samuel and Rebecca, working as a weaver.

By the 1851 census, William's occupation has changed to Agricultural Labourer and he's living with his wife, son Samuel who has recently been widowed and grandson John in Burton End.

Ann died in 1853, and so both her husband and son appear on the 1861 census as widowers living in Burton End with John Whiting, Samuel's son. William is still working as a labourer, but Samuel as well as being a weaver also works as a shoemaker. On this census, William's age is given as 79, which would make his birth year 1782.

William Whiting, drabbet weaver, died of old age on 9th January 1866. Sarah Buttle was present at the death. She was probably the wife of Thomas Buttle of Burton End, and she was born Sarah Whiting, daughter of Joseph Whiting and Rebecca Farecloth. Joseph Whiting, born c.1786, was a contemporary of William, but his parentage is a mystery. Could Sarah Buttle have been William's niece, and therefore another son of James Whiting and Catherine Hilsdon? Possibly, although Sarah Buttle may just have been William's neighbour in Burton End.

On 15th January 1866, William Whiting of Burton End was buried at St Mary's Church, Haverhill. His age is given as 84, which tallies with the estimate on the last census.


(1) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Parish Registers of St Mary's Church, Haverhill. Fiche 578/4
(2) Barnabas Webb’s pocket-book, Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds. HA553/1
(3) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Parish Registers of St Mary's Church, Haverhill. Fiche 578/4/p36 of 37
(4) Death Register. 1st Quarter 1866, Risbridge district, Volume 4a Page 269
(5) National Archives. Militia Great Britain (Supplementary and miscellaneous), West Suffolk, 1803-1814, WO13/2557
(6) Haverhill Parish Chest records, p.12, courtesy of Lauraine McPhee.
(7) The Bury and Norwich Post, Wednesday, 8th June 1808, issue 1354. C19th British Library Newspapers.
(8) The Ipswich Journal, Saturday, 9th June 1810, issue 4005. C19th British Library Newspapers.
(9) Suffolk Records Office, Bury St Edmunds, Overseers Militia Certificates, FL578/7/41
(10) http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/15754/pages/1393/page.pdf
(11) Registers of Protestant Dissenting Community, Haverhill. RG 8/1844
(12) National Archives, WO13/2040