William Wharton, Sophia Pereira and Hilda Hassett: beginning of a feud?

Previously, I highlighted the relationship between David Vincent Hassett and Edith Aileen Wharton. In addition, I offered some additional insight to their relationship and broader context in late 19th century – early 20th century India. Within these write-ups I also included information about Edith’s parents, William Bernard Wharton and Sophia Charlotte Pereira. I won’t repeat this information here, unless relevant.

The interesting twist in this story is Edith’s step-mother Hilda Mildred Hassett.

In the previous mention of Hilda the information I had listed her surname as Hanett. A common issue with transcribing the British India Office records (Baptisms, Marriages, Burials) is that the handwriting is not always legible. I have spent many a frustrating hour attempting to read writing which can only be described as (a teacher once described my own handwriting as a child): ‘a dead spider crawling across the page.’ The information I had about Hilda was incorrect (mis-transcribed). Her actual surname was Hassett.

I discovered this when searching for the marriage record of William Bernard Wharton and Hilda Mildred Hanett:

William Bernard Wharton and Hilda Mildred Hassett_mar_c

This revealed:

  1. Marriage date: 24 April 1912
  2. Name of parties: William Bernard Wharton and Hilda Mildred Hassett.
  3. Age: William: Full. Hilda: Full. (generally: Full = 21 and over, Minor = under 21)
  4. Condition: William: Widower. Hilda: Spinster
  5. Profession (William): Inspector Bombay Trading co.
  6. Residence: Bombay.
  7. Father’s name: William: William Hastings Wharton. Hilda: James Hassett.
  8. Banns or licence: Banns. (public announcement in a Christian parish church of an impending marriage)
  9. Witness signatures: J. Hassett and W.H. Wharton.

What I found instantly was that Hanett was infact Hassett. This triggered an instant red flag in my mind – Hassett, really? What further stands out is Hilda’s fathers name: James Hassett.

A coincidence or was this in fact James Hassett, father of David Vincent Hassett?

To answer this I searched for Hilda’s baptism record. This wasn’t difficult to find:

Hilda Mildred Hassett_bap_c

This revealed:

  1. Baptism place: Christ Church, Byculla
  2. Baptism date: 13 February 1886
  3. Birth date: 24 December 1885
  4. Parents: James and Martha Hassett
  5. Abode: Byculla
  6. Profession (father): Fitter G.L.O. Railway

This confirms Hilda’s parents as both James and Martha Hassett. In addition, the profession of James matches the profession on his marriage record to Martha Pereira dated 1 March 1885 (less than a year earlier), also residing in Byculla. This is enough evidence to validate that Hilda Mildred Hassett was indeed the daughter of James and Martha Hassett and therefore the sister of David Vincent Hassett.

What does this mean?

Previously, it was a surprise to find that Edith Aileen Wharton married her half cousin David Vincent Hassett. There was minimal information as to why this was the case and I highlighted some additional information which added some context to their relationship. The marriage of William Wharton and Hilda Hassett presents valuable further insight.

Hilda was aged 26 at the time of her marriage to William Wharton in 1912. There is a record of Hilda’s death as March 31 1913, (although I have not yet located the official burial record) this is less than one year of her marriage to William Wharton.

It is apparent that Edith’s step mother, Hilda, was in fact the sister of her future husband, David Hassett. This presents a number of further questions, such as:

  1. How did William and Hilda know each other? (their marriage was approx. 3.5 years after the death of William’s first wife (Edith’s mother) Sophia – 9 November 1908)
  2. What was Hilda’s initial connection to the Wharton family? (was this through John Pereira?)
  3. There appears to have been ‘consent’ to the marriage from both fathers (William Hastings Wharton and James Hassett) as they appear as witnesses on the marriage record. What did other family members think of this marriage?
  4. What influence did this marriage have on Edith and David?
  5. There are many other siblings – to be revealed in forthcoming blog – where do they fit in to this picture?
  6. Were there more marriages between the Hassett’s and the Wharton’s?

All very intriguing. In particular, this adds great insight into the family structure and some new avenues of exploration into the eventual marriage of Edith Aileen Wharton and David Vincent Hassett.

Furthermore, what was initially going to be a ‘quick blog’ on the siblings of the Hassett’s and the Wharton’s has now become far more.

Cover picture credit: David Wheeler.

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16 thoughts on “William Wharton, Sophia Pereira and Hilda Hassett: beginning of a feud?

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