3: The Ancestors of Hannah Musselwhite


So the search begins for our mystery Spaniard but where to start? It helps to understand as best we can the circumstances surrounding my grandfather’s birth and how his mother, Hannah Musselwhite, came to be where she was when she was. Her mother, Ann Wheeler, has a significant role to play in the story so I start with her.

Once upon a time, long, long ago in the later years of King George 4th's reign a baby girl was born that would become a cornerstone of a family in turmoil. She would nurture her abandoned grandson who would go on to become the father of a generation that would include my father, Alfred Ernest Orchard.

We need to go back to 1792 to find the earliest known roots of my great great grandmother, Ann “Grannie” Musselwhite. In that year both Joseph Musselwhite and Lucy Wheeler were baptised and were both, presumably, born around that time; infant mortality was very high in those days and children were baptised very soon after birth just in case the worst happened.

Joseph Musselwhite was the son of John and Mary Musselwhite and he was baptised in St Mary’s, the parish church of South Stoneham on the 25th March 1792. Later that year, on the 30th December 1792, Lucy Wheeler, the daughter of James and Hannah Wheeler, was baptised in All Saints Church in Fawley.

At some point the Musselwhites moved to the Waterside because Joseph and Lucy met and were married in All Saints, Fawley on the 12th October 1813. Both the bride and groom were then 21 years old, the age when the consent of parents was no longer needed although that may be a total coincidence.

On the 2nd March 1824 Joseph and Lucy’s first child, a son, Charles Musselwhite was baptised, again in All Saints, Fawley, so by this time the family were well established in the area. At the age of 25 Charles Musselwhite was a lodger at Stonehills farm where he worked as a labourer. Stonehills is the area just south of Fawley on the Calshot road and not far from Badminston farm which will become significant later in the story

By 1851 Joseph Musselwhite, then 59 and listed as an agricultural labourer, was living at Rollestone farm, Fawley (near Blackfield as it is known it today) but sadly, there is no mention of Lucy who, by this time must have died. There were two children, Emily (aged 19) and Joseph (aged 17) living with Joseph. This means both Joseph (senior) and Lucy were about 42 when Joseph (junior) was born, this may have been too much for Lucy perhaps? There is no record of her death so we can only speculate. Joseph died in 1858.

The Ann Wheeler mentioned earlier was the daughter of William Wheeler who had married Elizabeth Birt on the 4th April 1831 again in Fawley church. William Wheeler had been baptised on the 6th November 1809, the son of William and Charlotte (nee Bull). Ann Wheeler was baptised on the 8th March 1832 in Fawley, the first child of William and Elizabeth. By the 1841 census William and Elizabeth had five children and they lived at Stanswood, near Calshot and were still there in 1851. At this time William Wheeler was an agricultural carter. By then they had eight children with the eldest, Ann, noted asl ‘at home’ aged 19 and the youngest being Thomas aged 4. Interestingly Ann Wheeler was recorded twice in the 1851 census hence the ‘at home’ reference in the Fawley entry. She was a housemaid to William Drummond (of the Cadland Estate family) at their home in Portswood village near Southampton.

The event of real significant to the Orchard family history came in early 1861 when Charles Musselwhite (then 34) married our heroin, Ann Wheeler (now 30). The exact date and place of the wedding is not known as, strangely, there seems to be nothing in the All Saints, Fawley, registers revealing this. We do know that the couple were living in Badminston Road, Fawley. Badminston lies between Fawley and Calshot. The Fawley Power Station was built on Badminston Farm and Badminston Lane opposite the power station leads to Badminston Common and on to Langley via Mopley Pond. This is not far from Ann’s parents home at Stanswood. Charles was, like many of his family, an agricultural labourer. Charles and Ann had three daughters, the eldest being Hannah.

Ann Wheeler’s mother, Elizabeth, was aged 70 at the 1881 census and living in Larrytown, Fawley with her bachelor son, Henry, and then by 1891 she was ‘living on own means’ with the Marsh family at 30, Old Alma Road, Southampton. Alma Road is in Portswood where Ann worked for the Drummond family 30 years earlier. She passed away, aged 87, in 1897. Obviously a very strong and determined lady and I cannot help but think that her daughter Ann and her granddaughter, Hannah, inherited those strong qualities.

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