William Hiscock

William Hiscock and his wife Henrietta Whitehorn were my four times great-grandparents, and you can see them in the family tree below:

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William was the first child born to Hannah Hiscock, and he was born in 1788 in Minstead, and was bapisted on the 25th May that same year:

If you have a look at the line marked “notes” on the above record, it states that William was base-born, and you can also see that his father wasn’t named. Despite searching through Bastardy Orders, at the archives, to try and find out who his father was, I was unable to find a record. It’s left me wondering for a while now, what my surname would have been if Hannah had married William’s father. It would have been more-than-likely that I would have had a different surname, if things had turned out differently. The same would apply to my husband. His four times great-grandfather was William’s younger brother, James. James was also base-born, and I haven’t been able to find a father for him either. If Hannah had married James’ father, then my husband wouldn’t have been a Hiscock either. I wonder what my married name would have been?

Henrietta was born in Minstead in 1788 and was baptised later that year on the 28th December. She was the youngest of six children born to William and Elizabeth Whitehorn (nee Philips). There were quite a lot of Whitehorn families in Minstead around that time, and if you visit the graveyard of All Saints Church, you’ll see a lot of Whitehorn gravestones.

William married Henrietta in Minstead on the 8th June 1812. Below is a copy of their marriage record from FindMyPast:


Marriage Record of William and Henrietta

William and Henrietta had six children, and they were: Jane (1812-), Joseph (1815-1869), Hannah (1818-1902), William (1822-), Maria (1825-1869) and Noah, my three times great-grandfather (1828-1870).

We next see the Hiscock family on the 1841 census return:


They were living at Woodside in Minstead. William and Henrietta had their sons, Joseph, William and Noah living with them. You can see that their occupations were agricultural labourers.

At the time the Hiscock family were at work on the farms, they were living under the Corn Laws, which was introduced in 1815, and William would have been 27 years old at this time. It was the end of the French Wars, and corn prices had almost halved, which caused great panic amongst farmers. The Corn Law was meant to provide relief for our domestic farmers. This meant that “the reduction of the price of corn was attributable to the importation of foreign grain”, according to http://www.historyhome.co.uk. A member of the government at that time felt that by doing this, our security would be greater. Even if the price of corn might be cheaper in the end, by cultivation at home, rather than depending on foreign countries for our grain. The law was introduced to stabilise wheat prices at 80/- per quarter. Foreign grain couldn’t be imported until domestic grain reached that price.

Not everyone was in favour of this law as all it did was to protect the expanded grain farms, but failed to solve the problem of high prices. Food prices were subjected to extreme fluctuation, and encouraged people to hoard the corn. People spent the bulk of their earnings on food rather than commodities. The Corn Laws caused a lot of problems for working class people in towns as they were unable to grow their own food. The Law only served to help out the landowners, and as the majority of the Members of Parliament were landowners, the government was unwilling to reconsider a new legislation to help the economy, the poor people or the manufacturers. When the Law was brought in, in 1815, it caused a lot of rioting.

The Corn Law was revised in 1828, when a sliding scale was introduced which allowed foreign corn to be imported duty-free when the domestic price of corn rose to 73/- quarter. This still didn’t really help the poor or the manufacturers.

Over time, anti-Corn Law Leagues appeared challenging the existing laws. By 1846, Prime Minister Robert Peel, fearing a possible uprising, argued for a repeal of the law. On the 15th May 1846, a coalition of Whigs and conservatives repealed the Corn Laws.

It seems like this was turbulent times for the country’s poor people, and I wonder how the Hiscock family faired at the time, as well as other members of their community.

We next see the Hiscock family on the 1851 census return:

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William and Henrietta were living at Flat Water in Minstead with their youngest son, Noah, and his wife, Emma. Both William and Noah were garden labourers.

It was around this time that England was suffering through a major outbreak of cholera. A previous outbreak of cholera in 1832, in London, claimed the lives of 55,000 people. The outbreak that began in England and Wales in 1848, claimed another 52,000 lives. How big of an effect did it have on my ancestor’s lives, and in turn, their community?

When the 1861 census return was carried out, William and Henrietta were living at Street in Minstead:


You can see that they were living on their own; their children having moved out. It states that William was 73 years of age and that he was still working as an agricultural labourer. They really did work on until later in life, as there were no state pensions. Pensions didn’t start until 1909.

William passed away in the final quarter of 1868 at 80 years of age:

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Henrietta passed away not long after William:

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I will be ordering both of their death certificates so that I can get an accurate date and place of death for them.


About debbielou72

I am a genealogist who has been researching for quite a few years on mine and my husband's family tree. I also carry out research professionally for other people. I am a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies studying the surname Hiscock and its variations. I am also a member of CILIP. I am currently studying for the Pharos Tutors Family History Skills & Strategies (Intermediate) certificate
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