The Whitings in Haverhill – the story up to the first census

How far back can we trace the Whiting line in Haverhill with any certainty?

Not far enough. At least this was my feeling when I started this site, but since then a lot of progress has been made and the Whitings have been successfully traced back to Daniel Whiting in the 1720s and very likely two generations before, taking us into the 17th Century.

Hopefully there is more to come, and on the whole I've been pleasantly surprised by just how much information is still out there waiting to be discovered. I'm certainly not about to give up and lay the blame on the Great fire of Haverhill in the mid 1660's for destroying all the evidence!

What is clear from parish records is that there were Whitings in Haverhill back in the early 17th Century and before.

Living in Burton End, it seems that they were weavers or labourers with a fairly common surname in the town, but not among the more well-to-do inhabitants. Having said this, when the contentious Ship Tax was levied in 1640 in Haverhill, a John Whiting paid 1s 6d.(1) Those paying were supposed to own land or at least be of sufficient monetary standing.

Some years later the 1674 Hearth Tax returns show two 'Whitinge' households of one hearth each.(2) These are recorded as 'certified for', which means they were too poor to pay.

Burton End, as Michael Horne notes in his book ‘Haverhill in the Middle Ages 1000-1500’, was known earlier as both Bovetown then Button End and had originally been a hamlet to the west of the current town of Haverhill with a church built around 1050. This church of St Mary’s in Burton End was the first church, known as the ‘Upper’ or ‘Overchurch’ with the current one starting life as an adjoining chapel with the same dedication. They both existed half a mile apart until around 1550 when the townsfolk petitioned Edward VI to have the one in Burton End removed as it had been replaced in popularity by the current St Mary’s. The church was mistakenly referred to as ‘St Botolphs’ in Victorian times, although this never appears in earlier manuscripts. In 1997, a dig by the Hertfordshire Archaeological Trust (now Archaeological Solutions) at St Botolphs Lane, Haverhill, revealed skeletons and funeral ornaments at the site of what is likely to have been the original Burton End church.

The early Whitings would have mostly lived as agricultural labourers and weavers in and around Burton End on the Camps Road and it seems that they had connections with the Camps villages nearby, as several married and lived there for some time in the C18th. Those that were labourers may well have worked for farmers from the surrounding villages, as well as at the likes of nearby Hazelstubbs Farm.

Son of John Whiting, Daniel Whiting who married Sarah Bridge in Haverhill in 1718 is a good candidate to be the father of Daniel Whiting c.1725-1782 who lived in Haverhill before marrying Ann Spackman nee Wilson at St John’s Church, Duxford. She was from Duxford. They returned to Haverhill where they resided at Burton End and were members of the Non-Conformist Congregational Church. Daniel had sons James and Daniel who went on to start two of the main Whiting lines in the town. His other son Robert moved to Woolwich, and another son Ezra joined the Navy and died at sea.

James Whiting c.1754-1827 fathered John, Stephen and most likely William.

Daniel Whiting c.1752-1830 had sons Daniel and David.

It is not clear if either James or Daniel was the father of Joseph Whiting c.1786-1843 who is at the head of yet another strong line of Whitings.

In the early 1800’s the Napoleonic threat saw extra emphasis placed on Militia service.

William, John and David Whiting were all in the West Suffolk Militia during this time, and it is likely that Stephen Whiting also served. Later, David Whiting joined the Cambridge Milita and while serving with them he married Sarah Ragg in Derby in 1815. While both in the Militia, John Whiting married Mary Scotcher in Ipswich in 1807 and William Whiting married Ann Pool in Haverhill in 1810.

By the time we get to the 1841 census we see all of the Whitings living in Burton End bar one poor unfortunate, James, who is in the Union Workhouse. We can be fairly sure that all 45 of them were related in some way, although the exact details of how are not clear in every instance.

(1) http://www.haverhill-uk.com/pages/haverhill-ship-money-returns-723.htm
(2) 'Suffolk in 1674 being the Hearth Tax Returns', 206. Haverhill in Risbridge, Suffolk Green Books, Woodbridge, 1905.