William Hassett and Isabella De Silva

Interact with the Anglo-Indian Project

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I first came across the names of William and Isabella Hassett on the baptism record of their son James Hassett. This led to searching for further information on my great, great, great grandparents.

Their marriage record was an easy find:

William Hassett and Isabella de Silva_mar_c

This revealed:

  1. Marriage date: 8 November 1854
  2. Isabella’s maiden name: De Silva
  3. Age: William: Full age, Isabella: Minor (generally: Full = 21 and over, Minor = under 21)
  4. Profession (William): Mess Man
  5. Residence: Poona
  6. Father’s name: William: Hassett, Isabella: John De Silva
  7. Banns or licence: Banns (public announcement in a Christian parish church of an impending marriage)
  8. Witness signatures: P. Lavocab, M. Salvador, R. Fell

As I have stated previously, the witness signatures may provide some additional insight into the lives of William and Isabella (were the witnesses friends? colleagues? neighbours? or just the nearest people they could drag in to sign the paperwork?) It may be difficult to find out, but could prove insightful.

Most interesting from this marriage record was finding Isabella’s surname, De Silva. Ancestry.co.uk states the meaning of the name De Silva is a ‘[r]espelling of Portuguese Da Silva. This name is common in western India, where it was taken by Portuguese colonists.’ I was initially surprised at finding the name De Silva, however, the Portuguese first arrived in India in 1498 and many Portuguese surnames remain common in some parts of contemporary India.

Another interesting finding was in itself the discovery of ‘generation 6’ (William and Isabella themselves) and ‘generation 7’ (their fathers names). John De Silva, father of Isabella, is listed here. Unfortunately, William’s father is recorded as ‘Hassett’, with no first name listed (although the odds of this being John seem high based on other finds in ‘generation 7’).

While searching for William and Isabella’s records I came across two more interesting finds, well, two more sons to be precise.

The first was William Hassett:

William Hassett_Will-Isa_bap_c

His baptism record reveals:

  1. Baptism place: Christ Church, Byculla
  2. Baptism date: 19th October 1855
  3. Birth date: 23rd September 1855
  4. Parents names: William and Isabella Hassett
  5. Abode of parents: Bombay
  6. Profession of father: Overseer of the Jail Treadmill

Interesting to note the profession of William Hassett (father) as Overseer of the Jail Treadmill – more to come on this (as a criminologist it is of particular interest to me) – basically ‘jail treadmills’ were usually used as punishment of prisoners and rotated around a horizontal axis, requiring the user to step upwards, like walking up an endless staircase, as in the picture (below).


Picture credit: Historical Photos Daily

Further searching of William Hassett (junior) revealed a burial record:

William Hassett_Will-Isa_bur_c

This stated:

  1. Burial place: Poona
  2. William died: 21 May 1867
  3. Cause of death:Congestion of the Brain and Fevers
  4. Age: 11 years old
  5. Profession (father): William Hassett, Guard G.L.O. Railway
  6. Burial date: 22 May 1867

Another young death. His brother James Hassett, would have been almost 4 years old at this time. It is further interesting to note the change in profession of his father, William Hassett (senior) – more on this later.

The other finding, was William and Isabella’s son John Hassett:

John Hassett_Will-Isa_bap_c

His baptism record reveals:

  1. Baptism place: Poona
  2. Baptism date: 2 January 1860
  3. Birth date: 7 December 1859
  4. Parents names: William and Isabella Hassett
  5. Abode of parents: Poona
  6. Profession of father: G.L.O. Railway Guard

To date, these are the only offspring of William and Isabella Hassett I have found. William, the eldest, born in 1855. Second born, John, in 1859. The youngest, James, born in 1863. I have not located burial records for William (senior), Isabella, John or James. However, as above, we know that William (junior), the apparent first born child of William and Isabella died in 1867 age 11 years.

There is a further record of William and Isabella which appears on the second baptism of James Hassett (which records them as ‘dead’). Otherwise, for now, William and Isabella remain a bit of a mystery. That said, when I was searching for offspring of this couple I discovered many more interesting people along the way.

AIP_with web address2

Interact with the Anglo-Indian Project

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