Person    | Male  Born 1788  Died 27/11/1868

Francis Whiting

Categories: Friend / family

Francis Whiting

Over a few years this fountain has led us on a merry dance, trying to identify who it commemorates. We thought we’d solved the puzzle but recently Nicholas Long (see below) wrote with a new lead.  We now feel confident that Mr Francis Whiting is our target.  At the end of this entry we give our reasons for that choice and explain the difficulties.

So first, Francis Whiting: Francis Whiting was born in 1788 the second of the eleven children of John Scott Whiting (1749-1814) and his second wife Sarah Whiting née Muskett (1865-1844). His father's first wife, Mary Whiting née Richards (1749-1782) died in March 1782 and they had eight children. He was baptised on 19 October 1788 in St Dunstan and All Saints Church, Stepney High Street, London, E1 0NR.

On 21 November 1815 he married Judith Ruding (1797-1873) at St Mary's Parish Church, Thames Street, Hampton, TW12 2EB, where the parish registers shows his wife to have a been a spinster of that parish and that he was a bachelor of the parish of St Helen's, Bishopsgate, London. They had nine children: John Scott Whiting (1816-1885), Ellen Whiting (1818-1876), Laura Whiting (1820-1872), Francis Whiting (1822-1857), Martha Whiting (1824-1898), Mary Whiting (1826-1846), Clement Whiting (1828-1851), Lucy Whiting (1836-1873) and Clifton Whiting (1841-1905).

When their son, John Scott Whiting was baptised on 3 October 1816 at St Pancras Parish Church, the baptismal register shows the family living in Caroline Place (later renamed as Mecklenburgh Place) and this remained the case until their daughter, Mary Whiting was baptised on 1 February 1827 when the register shows the family at Mecklenburgh Square.

The 1841 census shows him recorded as Frank Whiting, a merchant, living at 2 Mecklenburgh Square, St Pancras, London, with his wife, two of their daughters: Laura and Lucy, together with one male and three female domestic servants. Both he and his wife were recorded at the same address in the 1851 census with three daughters: Laura, Martha and Lucy, their son, Clifton, together with a cook, a female house servant and a male house servant.

In the 1861 census he is shown as an annuitant, who was suffering from blindness, still residing at 2 Mecklenburgh Square, with his wife, also an annuitant, three of their children: Laura, Lucy and Clifton, together with one male and three female domestic servants. He died, aged 80 years, on 27 November 1868 at 2 Mecklenburgh Square and when his will was proved on 23 December 1868 by two of his sons: the Reverend John Scott Whiting and Clifton Whiting who was a stockbroker, his effects were recorded as under £45,000.

Our investigations meant that we have also researched his wife:  Judith Whiting was born as Judith Ruding on 18 December 1797 in St Pancras, London, the fifth of the six children of John Clement Ruding (1753-1829) and Martha Ruding née Davis (1759-1823). She was baptised on 17 January 1798 in St Pancras Old Church, Pancras Rd, London NW1 1UL.

The 1871 census shows her as a widow still living at 2 Mecklenburgh Square with her three unmarried daughters, Laura, Martha and Lucy, together with one male and three female domestic servants. Her daughter Laura died on 18 December 1872 in Southwold, Suffolk and her daughter Lucy died on 7 September 1873 in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales. She died, aged 75 years, on 1 November 1873 in Wargrave, Berkshire, where her daughter Martha lived in Gaunt House, Church Street, Wargrave. Probate records confirm that her will was proved on 11 December 1873 by Clifton Whiting and Martha Whiting and her effects were originally valued at under £5,000 but were subsequently re-sworn in March 1874 as being under £6,000.

This lady would, in the 19th century, have been called Mrs Francis Whiting. She had a total of five daughters but only Ellen and Martha outlived her. Martha remained a spinster until she died, aged 74 years, on 2 November 1898 in Wargrave, Berkshire, leaving an estate valued at £17,784-18s-6d. Ellen had married a Joseph Charles Waugh (1813-1867) on 2 September 1845 and died as a widow, aged 58 years, on 17 May 1876 in Wargrave, Berkshire. Her estate was valued at under £7,000. 

So why did we have so much trouble identifying Mr Francis Whiting as the subject of the commemoration?

The listing entry states that the fountain was commissioned by “the Misses Whiting to commemorate their mother”.  Sarah McCabe's dissertation refers to a source found at the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre: “46.32 GUILFORD PLACE, Aston, M. ‘Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Public Conveniences and Frances Whiting Memorial Fountain Guilford Place, WC1: Information File’ (London, 2008)”. But the MCTDFA states that the fountain was “'The gift of the Misses Whiting as a memorial to their father”. So, the dedicatee needs to be: either a mother or father, with two or more surviving unmarried daughters, someone who died before the fountain was erected (April 1870), named Frances, or Francis (allowing for the gender confusion). And an address local to Guilford Place would be helpful.

We could not find a Frances Whiting who met all these criteria.  The widow, Judith Whiting (Mrs Francis Whiting) fails a few of the criteria. But Mr Francis Whiting meets them all, with a long-term address in Mecklenburgh Square for a clincher.

If we accept that Francis is the dedicatee, this implies that: the Listing entry is in error referring to “their mother”; that McCabe's source is in error, referring to “Frances Whiting”; and that a number of other websites have repeated these errors (as indeed, did we, for a time).

Some bonus information: 2 Mecklenburgh Square (occupied by the Whiting family at least during the period 1816 - 71) must have been the second (from the west) in the terrace on the south side of the square (the whole side now occupied by London House).

And sadly, the Spectator, reported that on 28 June1857 Francis’s second son (also Francis) a captain in the Bengal Engineers was killed near Cawnpore, during the Indian Rebellion. Probate records state that he was 'a First Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers in the service of the Honourable East India Company and died on or about 27 June 1857 in Cawnpore in the Presidency of Bengal' leaving effects totalling £2,125-10s-4d. (27 June 1857 was the date of the Satichaura Ghat massacre so it would appear that he was in charge of the only boat that was to escape the massacre but was killed the following day, 30 miles downstream).

We are grateful to our colleague Andrew Behan who has carried out all the genealogical research (including that of a number of dead ends).

Nicholas Long is (2022) researching Francis Whiting's burial place, Catacomb 12 under the (now destroyed) Anglican chapel at West Norwood Cemetery.  He shared some of his interim findings with us and we look forward to the publication of a biographical piece on the Whiting family which will appear in the newsletter of the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery.

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