Part 4: Charles Edward “Pop” Orchard

I can find no trace of the birth of a Charles Edward Orchard being registered even though by 1888 it was a legal requirement to register all births, marriages and deaths. This means either his birth was not registered in which case one might wonder why or possibly because the birth was registered under a different name. I searched all registrations of boys named Mussselwhite around this time and I even searched all those named Charles Edward with any surname from 1887 to 1890 and, despite both being common names of the time, there are very few of that combination and none could possibly have been ‘Pop’!

We do know that he was recorded as being three years old at the time of the 1891 census so he must have been born in 1888 or late 1887, but Hannah Musselwhite, his mother, did not marry Henry Orchard until the spring of 1890 so that begs the obvious question; was Henry Orchard the biological father of Charles Edward? There is no way of knowing for sure the answer to that question but a closer look at the circumstances prevailing at the time may help shed some light.

At some point between 1881 and 1890 Hannah’s youngest sister, Fanny, joined Hannah in London. This may possibly have been 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 but Henry and Alfred may have already been friends and they met Hannah and Fanny.

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 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 was not wanted in London and it was agreed that he be delivered into the care of his grandmother.

Why would Henry and Hannah give up their first son? It seems quite clear that Charles Edward was not the son of Henry Orchard and Henry only married Hannah on the condition that Charles Edward be placed elsewhere. If Charles Edward was “illegitimate” it would probably account for the birth not being registered. Henry Orchard registered the birth of his other five children with Hannah so why not Charles Edward if he was the father?

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 Orchard was of Jewish descent so this decision to have a Christian baptism was obviously made by Ann Musselwhite and Henry and Hannah were certainly not present. At the ceremony, despite Henry and Hannah being recorded as the 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.

So Pop 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 died in 1909 leaving Ann, known by the family as “Grannie Musselwhite” and now well into her seventies to bring up Pop 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.

As an aside, Helen recalled that she had been told that when ‘Pop’ 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 Pop 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.


Printable Version: 

These are the people mentioned in the above story. Click the name of any person you want to know more about:

Name (Click to see details) Date of Birth Parents Date of Marriage Spouse Child Date of Death
Musselwhite, Charles Tue, 02/03/1824 Sat, 02/02/1861 Wheeler, Ann Musselwhite, Hannah Tue, 05/01/1909
Wheeler, Ann Fri, 09/03/1832 Sat, 02/02/1861 Musselwhite, Charles Musselwhite, Hannah Sat, 07/02/1925
Musselwhite, Hannah Sun, 23/03/1862 Thu, 20/03/1890 Orchard, Henry Orchard, Charles Sat, 01/06/1946
Orchard, Henry Wed, 01/07/1868 Thu, 20/03/1890 Musselwhite, Hannah Mon, 01/03/1926
Orchard, Charles Sat, 22/10/1887 Sat, 01/01/1910 Orman, Beatrice Wed, 09/02/1972


Print Friendly, PDF & Email