11: A Happy Ending?

There is some evidence to show what happened next. We know that at some point between 1881 and 1890 Hannah’s youngest sister, Fanny, joined Hannah in London. Frustratingly, being between the 1881 and 1891 Censuses we do not if this was to work or as the result of a call for help by Hannah when she found herself expecting a baby.

We also know that early in 1890 there was a double wedding with Hannah marrying Henry Orchard and Frances (Fanny) marrying Alfred Thompson in the Kensington area of London. How this came about is, like much of this, open to speculation, Henry and Alfred may have been friends, there may be no connection.

It becomes really interesting when we look at the 1891 census records. At this time Hannah’s parents, Charles Musselwhite and Ann (nee Wheeler), were still living in Ashlett and had a lodger, a fellow local farm worker, Henry Cole. In addition the records show Fanny (now Thompson) also there with her 9 month old son James Alfred and also one Charles Edward Orchard! It seems Fanny had come to visit her parents and brought her mother a present! I suspect that this had been negotiated by post over a period of time between Hannah and her mother.

Fanny’s visit to Ashlett seems to have been a bit more complicated than it first seems because her son, James Alfred, is recorded on the census as having been born in Fawley. Given James Alfred was 9 months old at this time then Fanny must have arrived in Ashlett in the middle months of 1890 and then stayed with her parents for about a year before returning to her husband in London. I can only think they had accommodation problems and Fanny had to wait while Alfred found somewhere suitable to live? Her sister Hannah was at home with her new husband, Henry Orchard, at 68 Princes Road, Kensington with their seven month old son, Arthur.

We will never know whether Hannah could not bring herself to take Charles to Ashlett, whether her mother banned her from coming or whether Henry forbade her. It is even possible that Hannah travelled with Fanny to Ashlett bringing Charles Edward with her and then returned to London leaving Fanny in Ashlett whilst she gave birth. Whatever the circumstances it is obvious that Charles Edward was not wanted in London and it was agreed that he be delivered into the care of his grandmother.

Having been caring for him from mid-1890 onwards on the 9th November 1890 Ann Musselwhite took her grandchild to All Saints, Fawley to be baptised. Henry and Hannah were certainly not present at the ceremony, despite Henry and Hannah being recorded as his parents. He was not even baptised with the name Orchard; he was baptised Charles Edward Archer! Whilst this is obviously the vicar misunderstanding Ann when he asked the child’s name it does seem ironic that if Charles Edward was not truly an Orchard that he should accidentally be formally given the name Archer instead! This error in the records did not have a long term effect of course, he was always known as Charles Edward Orchard.

Charles Edward spent his early years with his grandparents in Ashlett. By the 1901 census he was fourteen years old and listed as a general labourer! A labourer at just fourteen - how difficult must those years have been? Ann was now 69 and her husband Charles 74. Charles Musselwhite died in 1909 leaving Ann, known by the family as “Grannie Musselwhite” and now well into her seventies to bring up her abandoned grandson alone. Ann (Grannie Musselwhite) lived to be 92 years old and died in 1925.

What became of the Musselwhite girls? Hannah and Henry were to have five children, Arthur Ephraim, Ellen, Dorothy, Kathleen and Marjorie. Having been an insurance agent in 1891 by 1901 Henry Orchard was clerk to a fish dealer and had moved the family to 63 Weaste Lane, Pendleton in Manchester but by 1911 they were back in London at 45, The Broadway, Wandsworth and Henry is then shown as being a ledger clerk. Henry died in Wandsworth in 1926 aged 57 and Hannah died in Battersea in 1946, aged 84.

My aunt Helen recalled that she had been told that when her father was fourteen and old enough to work Henry and Hannah tried to repossess him and take him back to London to work there. This apparently resulted in a court case and Grannie Musselwhite won the day. The case may have failed because Henry and Hannah could not prove their parentage as there was no birth certificate! Helen also recalled that at some point Hannah’s daughter Dorothy came to try and find her half brother but there are no real details, it was all a bit sketchy. 

Ellen Musselwhite moved to London to be housemaid in the Flower household living at 14 Prince of Wales Terrace, Kensington, quite close to her sisters. By 1901 Ellen was unmarried and had moved in with her sister Fanny and her husband Alfred at 116 High Street, Wandsworth where Alfred then had a cycle shop. They had three children with them at that time; Alfred, Nellie and Ethel. Fanny died in 1943 aged 75 but Ellen disappeared without trace at some point around 1910.


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