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Monday, 9 May 2016

A Family Tragedy for Arthur and Ada Titheridge

Swanmore Churchyard
As discussed in the last blog  infant mortality even in the early 1900s was high and life expectancy even in Edwardian Britain was low. As genealogists we see the deaths recorded in the records but rarely do we get to find the story behind the death records.  Below is the sad story of one family.

Arthur Edwin Titheridge was the 8th of 9 children born to William Titheridge and Sarah Ann Keeling.  Arthur was christened on 31 January 1870 at Swanmore.  He spent his youth in the village and appeared on the 1871, 1881 and 1891 census living with his parents and siblings in Swanmore.

On 1 January 1901 Arthur Edwin Titheridge married Ada Cornelia Botley, Hampshire.  The 1901 census shows Arthur, a farm labourer aged 30, living at Winchester Street, Botley with his new wife Ada C Titheridge. 

Arthur and Ada had 4 children only one of whom survived to adulthood.

Edward Arthur born September 1901
William Henry born 5 December 1902
Hilda Dorothy born 10 January 1904 and died 30 May 1913 aged 9 (known as Dolly)
Elsie May born 8 February 1905 and died on 24 February 1905 aged 2 weeks

Two of the children died before they reached their first birthday. Edward Arthur died aged 11 months and was buried on 1st July 1902; Elsie May died on died on 24 February 1905 aged 2 weeks
When Hilda Dorothy was 9 years old there was an awful accident.   It was the 28 May 1913 when tragedy struck and little Hilda Titheridge, known by the family as Dolly, got burnt.  She died of her injuries on 30 May 1913 at Winchester hospital.  The story is best revealed by the newspaper report taken form Portsmouth Evening News 3 June 1913

“At the Royal Hampshire County Hospital at Winchester on Monday afternoon an inquest was held on the body of Hilda Dorothy Titheridge who lately lived with her father, Arthur Edward Titheridge, at Ivydale Cottages, Swanmore and who died in the hospital on Saturday evening from the effects of burns.

The brief evidence taken showed that the child, aged 9, went out into the garden, stating that she was going to do some hoeing between the gooseberry bushes.  Immediately afterwards she screamed, and her cousin, Georgina Kate Titheridge, rushing out, she found her all alight.  She threw a rug over the burning child and put out the flames, and then sent for her father and Dr Whittindale.  The latter, after dealing with the burns ordered the child’s removal to Winchester; whither she was taken in a motor car.  The next day she was seen at the Hospital by her father, and she then told him that, she was lighting a piece of paper at a couch fire, when her frock caught alight.  Mr Titheridge had left a heap of rubbish burning in the garden and both he and his niece had warned the child against going near it.  The doctor stated that the child was dreadfully burned about the face head arms and hands and that death was due to heart failure, with absorption of poison from the burns. 

A verdict of “accidental death” was returned.”

Their only surviving child, Willian Henry, died in Dover, Kent in 1985 aged 82.  Arthur died in March 1954 in Winchester aged 84 and his wife Ada died in June 1954 in Surrey South Western aged 77.

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