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The Mystery of Hannah E Whitaker


I am wanting to ask for help with a mystery that has baffled me for a number of years; I keep going back to it every so often and have just spent another fruitless hour and a half trying to solve it. Hannah E Whitaker (Born 1868/69) is not a direct ancestor, she is the daughter of my 3xgreat-father’s older brother.

She appears in the 1871 census living with her father, George F Whitaker, and her mother, Anne. They are living in Bell Square (just off Trippet Lane), she is an only child and is 2 years old. By the 1881 census she has disappeared and it is only her parents with no other children.

I have further evidence Hannah existed from a newspaper report in 1882. By this time, George had switched his profession from a fish dealer to an itinerant photographer who, along with his wife, travelled round the fairs. At a fair in Derby in 1882, Anne, while drunk, committed suicide by drinking potassium cyanide. At the inquest it was stated that the trauma of losing her child had caused Anne to take to drinking.

I have searched for a birth and death of Hannah E Whitaker on FMP, Ancestry, FreeBMD and on this site, and can find no trace of her having been born or having died. I’ve done all the usual tricks of using an * here, there, and everywhere but, still, no luck. I’ve also used the ‘spelling variant’ options as, on a number of occasions, records relating to my ancestors have been recorded as a 2 t’d rather than a 1 t’d Whitaker.

Any help would be appreciated as I feel I must be missing the obvious.

Thank you

Re: The Mystery of Hannah E Whitaker

Hi Carol,

1891 census, Martins Yard, St. Mary, Nottingham.
George F. Whitaker, head, mar, 48, Itinerant Photographer, born Sheffield.
Annie Whitaker, wife, 30, Itinerant Photographer, born Sheffield.
Charles A. Whitaker, son, 2, born Nottingham.
Arthur Clarke, nurse child, 3mo, born Nottingham.

1901 census, Kings Court 4, King George Street, Nottingham.
George Frederick Whitaker, head, mar, 58, Photographic artist, born Halifax.
Annie Whitaker, wife, 39, born Rotherham.

If the above is your George and Anne/Annie, the Annie you found in 1882 who
commited suicide, can't be yours.

Charles Alexander Whitaker age 12, buried 18 Oct 1900, St Catherine, Nottingham. NBI.

There is a burial for an Hannah Elizabeth Whitaker aged 5, buried 28 May 1874,
St John, Cleckheaton, Yks. NBI.


Re: The Mystery of Hannah E Whitaker

Hi Carol

Hannah Elizabeth Whittiker. MMN Donnell (think it was DONALD when she married George)
Born 1869 1st Q

Baptised Sep 13 1870
Father : Frederick - Fish Dealer
Mother: Ann
Address: Trippet Lane

All on FMP


Re: The Mystery of Hannah E Whitaker

Carol, see gro index Q1 1869 in Sheffield. Birth reg of Hannah Elizabeth WHITTIKER, mother maiden name DONNALL . This matches with the marriage of her parents George F Whitaker to Ann Donald on Dec 31ST 1867 SHEFFIELD
Edit, oops slightly late but just to confirm mmn is DONNALL

Re: The Mystery of Hannah E Whitaker


1871 Census George is 28 and Anne 20

She has lost 10 years in age by 1891 - should be 40 not 30.

If Anne died 1882 - death in Derby aged 30 - George could have re-married as

mmn is BETTS for Charles Alexander born Nottingham 1888


Re: The Mystery of Hannah E Whitaker

There is a death of a Hannah Elizabeth Whitaker aged 5 in 1874 at Bradford so could she have died in an accident at a fair? I have not found a marriage to for a Whittaker to a Betts so I wonder if when George married again Anne was a widow and used her birth name for the children. John

Re: The Mystery of Hannah E Whitaker


In one of the newspaper reports-Derby Daily Telegraph 18 April 1882-it mentions that Annie had started drinking due to the death of her child "some nine years ago".
This gives a death date of the child about 1873-4.

Hope this helps


Re: The Mystery of Hannah E Whitaker

Hi Moira

Yes, it's the same George F; he re-married and his second wife was called Annie. Sadly, both his children, to two different wives, died in childhood. In later life, George went blind and, unable to work, ended up in Sheffield workhouse where he died.


Re: The Mystery of Hannah E Whitaker

Brilliant - thanks Denise.

I never considered replacing the 'a' in Whitaker with an *. Yes, Anne's maiden name was Donald.

Re: The Mystery of Hannah E Whitaker

Thanks Vicki

Re: The Mystery of Hannah E Whitaker

Thanks John S and Sue S. John, I had found the death of Hannah Elizabeth in Bradford but had not considered the fact that George and his wife may have been attending a fair - that's something for me to look into. This also tallies with Sue's comment about the newspaper report.

Thank you both.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me on this; it's very much appreciated.

Re: The Mystery of Hannah E Whitaker


An update on the thread to say thank you to everyone and, in particular, to Moira and John S for pointing out the possible burial for Hannah.

Finally, after a considerable amount of time has gone by I know, a week ago I sent for the death certificate for the burial you had both found and the certificate arrived in today’s post.

You were right! Under occupation it says, ‘daughter of George Frederick Whitaker – photographer’; she died from Scartlatina (Scarlet Fever) bless her.

Thanks again for your help – mystery finally solved