Harriet (1) Woodhurst

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Brief biography

Harriet (1) Woodhurst was born at Hastings in 1832 to the wife Elizabeth (nee Wimble) of Edmund (2) Woodhurst. She was christened at Hastings St. Clements on February 22nd 1832 [Parish Register]. It seems probable that she had been fathered illegitimately by John Pankhurst, a labourer of that parish, against whom a charge - dated February 7th 1832 - was imposed "for the maintenance of the daughter of Elizabeth Woodhurst born 8 Jan 1832 at the workhouse" [East Sussex Record Office: Ref. PAR369/34/3/16 (1832)].

The 1851 Census shows her at age 19 living with her widowed mother at Ore Down, umarrried and occupied as a laundress. Also living there was a 2-month-old child 'Thomas Woodhurst' whom the record implies to be her illegitimate son Thomas Wimble (2) Woodhurst.

She married Thomas Morphy at Winchelsea on May 14th 1853. The GRO reference [Marriage Index: Rye 2b 17, 1853 (June)] spells her surname as Woodhouse and his as Morphey.

The 1861 Census them with three children fathered by Thomas, together with Thomas Wimble (2), living at Huckstepps Row in Rye, and describes Thomas as a mariner aged 31 who was born in Brede, Sussex.

The 1871 Census finds them with seven children living at Brook's Row in Rye, and again describes Thomas as a mariner.

The 1881 Census finds them with four children living at No. 1, Brook's Row. Thomas, now aged 51, was working as a farm labourer.

Thomas drowned at sea in 1889 [descendant's report]. No reference to his death appears in the GRO Death Index, suggesting that his body was never recovered.

The 1891 Census finds Harriet (1) widowed and living with four children at 4, Cinque Ports Square in Rye.

The 1901 Census finds her living with her daughter Rose Florence in Ferry Road, Rye where she was occupied as a retailer in paraffin oil. Living next door was her married son David Nicholas with his family.

She died in 1916 aged "83" [Death Index: Rye 2b 6, 1916 (Dec)].

Her child out of wedlock

  1. Thomas Wimble (2) Woodhurst

Her children by Thomas Morphy

  1. John William Morphy - born at Ore - [Birth Index: Hastings 2b 16, 1854 (June)]
  2. Elizabeth Charlotte Morphy - born at Winchelsea [Birth Index: Rye 2b 12, 1856 (Dec) - indexed as "Morfey"]
  3. Charles Edmund Morphy - [Birth Index: Rye 2b 2, 1859 (June)]
  4. David Nicholas Morphy - [Birth Index: Rye 2b 1, 1865 (June)]
  5. Henry Morphy - [Birth Index: Rye 2b 3, 1867 (Dec) - indexed as "Morfey"]
  6. Albert ... Morphy - perhaps [Birth Index: Rye 2b 1, 1871 (June) - indexed as "Albert Victor Murphy"]
  7. Rose Florence Morphy - [Birth Index: Rye 2b 4, 1875 (June)]
  8. and possibly others ...

John William married Amelia Wilson in 1876 [Marriage Index: Rye 2b 20, 1876 (Sept)] and produced many children, including two named Charles and Elizabeth (who died in 1990) [descendant's report].

The Rye Parish Register records that David Nicholas was born on March 31st 1865 and was first christened on February 21st 1866, then christened again on March 18th 1870. The latter entry has an addendum saying "Previously baptized, received into the church", suggesting that the previous christening may have been performed at the family home rather than in the church.