Winifred Grace Whiting 1890-1941

Inquest, The Times, Saturday 20th April 1929. p14.

Coroners Verdict, Nottingham Evening Post, Friday 26th April 1929. p1.

Parents:       Amos Jonas Whiting and Eliza Willis.(1)
Born:            1890 in Haverhill.(1)
Baptised:     ?
Married:        Arthur Richard Apps, 23, batchelor, civil servant, son of Arthur William Apps, clerk, on 25th December 1912 at St Chrysostom Church, Peckham. Witnessed by Jonas Whiting, John Martin, Mabel and Darla Roper.(2,3)
Children:      Kenneth Richard William Apps b.1915 died in infancy, Boris Richard Apps b.1916, Brian Arthur Apps b.1924 and Brenda Winifred Apps b.1926 died in infancy.
Died:             1941 in the Croydon district.(5)


Bio:               Winifred Grace features on the 1891 census at the age of one. She was the second daughter of Amos and Eliza Whiting, who are living at 7 Nunn's Yard, Haverhill. Her father Amos is still a factory hand, and her sister, Ethel May, 10, is at school.

At the time of the 1901 census,Winifred is living with her Family at 22 Burton End, Haverhill. She is not listed as being a school, although she would have been eleven at the time.

It seems that Winifred may well have worked at Gurteen's along with her father at some point during the next ten years, because for the 1911 census her occupation is in the textile industry as a drapery assistant, and she is a visitor at 130 Peckham High Street, London. It is unclear where she was living at this point, and if in fact she was staying somewhere else in London at the time.

130 Peckham High Street was the home of Arthur William Apps, 53, a clerk at a glass merchants. He was living there with his wife, Kathleen, 48, who was assistant mistress at LCC School (probably Lutheran Church of the Cross), his sons Arthur, 21, an assistant clerk and Sydney, 13, who was at school. Kathleen's widowed mother, Mary Smith, 70, is also  living with them. Winifred appears to be a friend of the family, but how this came about is unclear as the Apps family were all born in various parts of London.    

Next year, Winifred Grace was to marry the eldest son, Arthur Richard Apps, who was her age. She was living at 130 Peckham High Street at the time, and working as a draper's assistant.(2,3)

They were to have four children over the next few years, the middle two of which, Boris and Brian survived. The other two died in infancy.

The family must have moved to Forest Hill at some point after their marriage, maybe they moved out from Arthur's parents home to start a family.

Probate records show that Arthur Richard Apps died at Denmark Hill Railway Station, Surrey, on 16th April 1929. He was living at 143 Como Road, Forest Hill, Kent at the time. Probate was granted to Winifred with effects of £646 6s.(4)

The fact that he is said to have died at a station was cause for some curiosity, and the manner of his death turned out to be not only tragic, but also somewhat mysterious. 

He fell from a train in the south tunnel of Denmark Hill Railway Station, but he had seemed in good spirits at the time and was not known to be depressed or to have any financial difficulties. He had been leaving home every morning for work at the Air Ministry (where he was a clerk) in the days leading up to his death, but it turned out he had not been arriving there. He had also been using up large amounts of his money. Where had he been going instead? The only clues were an episode of memory loss and intense depression that he had experienced in 1911.

If you read both articles above you can get a sense of the strange events which are reminiscent of a Sherlock Holmes mystery. The coroners eventual verdict was 'Maniacal Depressing Insanity', resulting in an accidental death. There was no verdict of suicide.

Lots of questions seem to remain unanswered. Where had he been going? What had he been spending his money on? Was there a third party involved? 

Unfortunately the Metropolitan Archives informed me that the coroners report is no longer available for this inquest, otherwise this would certainly have made interesting reading.

Regardless of the reasons, it was a tragic occurrence for Winifred and her young family.

It seems she died fifteen years later in 1941.(5)


(1) Birth Register. 1st Quarter 1890, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 679
(2) Marriage Register. 4th Quarter 1912, Camberwell District, Volume 1d Page 1718
(3) London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Chrysostom, Peckham, Register of marriages, P73/CRY, Item 012.
(4) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966
(5) Death Register. 2nd Quarter 1941, Croydon District, Volume 2a Page 366