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Typhoid Victims in Heene Cemetery

 If you have read “Fever! The Year Worthing Died” edited by Colin Reid, you will know that the town was ravaged by typhoid fever in 1893. There are ten Typhoid victims in Heene Cemetery, buried between May and October, with some buried on the day they died.

The fever was no respecter of age, wealth or occupation. Many people survived the disease but many died from exhaustion after fighting the illness for several weeks. 

Louise Wenban Smith – 1st of the ten Typhoid victims buried in Heene Cemetery

The first of the victims to be buried was Louise Wenban Smith, the 19-year-old daughter of William Wenban Smith, builder’s merchant, and managing director of the Durrington Brick Co. The family were wealthy and lived in Victoria Road. Louise became ill at the beginning of May and died three weeks later. She was buried on the 30th of May beside the main central path of the cemetery. None of her family were present as they were all ill but recovered. 

The next burial was not until August when there were six interments. Emily Covey came from Billingshurst and worked as a house servant at West View in Heene Road. She died on 6th August aged 18.

On 19th Fanny Hills, a dressmaker, died aged 18 after suffering for 3 weeks and was buried the same day. Her family lived in Heene Cottages in Heene Lane.

Sophia Ferguson – 4th of the ten Typhoid victims buried in Heene Cemetery

Sophia Ferguson died on 22nd August at 5 Milton Street. She had worked as a governess in London and moved to Worthing to live with her sister.

Heene Hand Bell Ringers – James Riddles 6th of the ten Typhoid victims buried in Heene Cemetery

James Riddles was just 12 when he died on 23rd. He had caught the disease three weeks earlier and like most was too exhausted to fight on. The Riddles family lived in Heene Road at the time. 

Mary Compton was the daughter-in-law of the artist Edwin Compton who painted many pictures of Worthing including one of Heene Lane cottages. Mary died at the temporary hospital in High Street on 25th August.

Dr William Harris, a well-known surgeon was already an invalid when he succumbed to typhoid on 28th August. He was buried the same day.

Winifred Duncan – 8th of the ten Typhoid victims buried in Heene Cemetery

The youngest victim was Winifred Duncan, the daughter of Charles and Jane Duncan. The family lived in St Michael’s Road. She was just 4 months old when she died on 4th September.

Ernest Van Buren – 9th of the ten Typhoid victims buried in Heene Cemetery

Dr Ernest Van Buren caught typhoid at the beginning of August. He lived with his mother at “Ennismorein Rowlands Road and died here on 13th September.

The final victim to be buried at Heene in 1893 was another of the Riddles family, Ellen Riddles. She was the aunt of James and was a cook for a family in Manor Road. She died on 6th October at the temporary hospital in High Street.

Researched by Carol Sullivan