Portrait of Charles Whitehall

Name: Charles Whitehall

Burial Number: 0569

Gender: Male

Occupation: Coffee Tavern Manager; Butler; Lodging House Keeper.

Distinction: Criminal

Born: 00/00/1851

Died: 05/10/1908

Buried: 08/10/1908

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Story

Charles was born in Marchwiel, a village near Wrexham in North Wales. He was baptised in the village chapel on 28th September 1851.

As a young man, Charles found work as a footman in a large house in Clitheroe, Lancashire. On 13th December 1880, he married Catherine Ann Vernall at St Peter’s Church, Malvern Wells.

The couple moved to Lyme Regis in Dorset and managed a coffee tavern in the town. They had three children, Elizabeth (known as Lizzie), John and William.

Soon after Lizzie’s birth in 1882, the family moved back to Worcestershire where Charles found work as a butler to Mr Charles Archibald Hewitt of Hope End House in Ledbury.

Towards the end of 1884, Charles was arrested after a fire at the house and the discovery of theft from the safe. Fifty sovereigns and several bottles of wine were missing. Charles had the keys to the safe and had mentioned that he was short of money. He had also given in his notice. Charles was charged with arson and theft and sent for trial. In January 1885, he was sentenced to seven years in prison, sent firstly to Pentonville and then to Dover Prison. The Criminal Register describes him as “five foot five inches tall with dark brown hair, slender build with an oval face. scars above the right eyebrow, forehead and below the right eye. Moles on back, right hip and shin. Boil on right wrist.” Charles was released from prison on 30th June 1890.

He went back to his regular job of coffee house proprietor along with Catherine who had stood by him.

By 1901, the family had moved to Worthing where Charles ran a lodging house on Marine Parade. In 1905, the couple’s son John died in South Africa after a fall from his horse.

On 5th October 1908, Charles climbed out of the top floor window of the lodging house intending to clean the windows, something he had done on a regular basis. He normally wore rubber shoes to give him grip but this time he wore leather shoes. It was thought that he slipped as he was climbing back into the room. Charles fell, hitting the balcony on the second floor and then falling into the garden. He died about an hour later after being carried into the house.

Charles and Catherine’s son William died of TB in 1910 and was buried with his father at Heene. Poor Catherine had lost her husband and two sons within the space of five years. She and her daughter continued to live at the lodging house but after the First World War, Catherine moved back to the Midlands.

Researcher: Carol Sullivan

The Grave

No headstone image available

Location in Cemetery

Area: NWS Row: 4 Plot: 3

Exact Location (what3words): bake.apply.retail

Ashes or Urn: Unknown

Headstone

Description:

No description of the headstone has been added.

Inscription:

in loving memory of Charles Henry Whitehall who died October 5th 1908 aged 57 years. "Not gone from memory nor from love, but gone to our Father's home above" Also of John Verrall Whitehall who died in South Africa August 16th 1905 aged 22 years. Also of William Charles Whitehall died March 8th 1910 aged 25 years.

Further Information

Birth

Name: Charles Henry Whitehall

Gender: Male

Born: 00/00/1851

Town: Marchwiel

County: Denbighshire

Country: England

Marriage

Maiden Name: Not applicable

Marriage Date: 13/12/1880

Spouse First Name: Catherine

Spouse Second Name: Anne

Spouse Last Name: Vernall

Town of Marriage: Malvern

County of Marriage: Worcestershire

Country of Marriage: England

Information at Death

Date of Death: 05/10/1908

Cause of death: Fractured Skull; Brain Injury due to Fall

Address line 1: "Umtata"

Address line 2: 1 Prince's Terrace

Address line 3: Marine Parade

Town: Worthing

County: Sussex

Country: England

Obituary

Worthing Gazette 7th October 1908

“Dangers of Window Cleaning”

Shocking Death. Practice Condemned by the Coroner.

The danger of attending the cleaning of windows of upper storeys without proper appliances was forcibly illustrated by a shocking accident which occurred on the Marine Parade about mid-day on Monday. Mr Charles Henry Whitehall, a lodging house keeper of “Umtata” Prince’s Terrace, was engaged in cleaning one of the top windows of his house, when he apparently lost his hold and fell into the front garden, sustaining injuries which resulted in his death three quarters of an hour later. An inquiry into the circumstances was conducted at the deceased’s residence by the West Sussex Coroner (Mr F W Butler) yesterday afternoon. Mr W Paine being chosen foreman of the jury. William Charles Whitehall, an invalided pensioner from the Royal Marine Artillery, now living at “Umtata” stated that his father was 57 years of age. On the previous day, about a quarter to one, witness was sitting on the balcony of the second floor, reading, when he heard a thud on the verandah overhead, and immediately afterwards saw his father’s body bounce off onto the coping of the balcony. Before he could rise from his seat, he heard another thud in the garden beneath. Witness at once ran downstairs but a Coastguardman was already there, and witness saw them take his father into the house. His father always cleaned the windows himself and in cleaning those of the top two storeys, he used to get out of the smaller or dressing-room window and climb along to the outside of the other window. He usually wore India-rubber shoes for work but on this occasion, he was wearing leather shoes. Witness had often spoken to him about cleaning the windows in this way and told him it was rather dangerous but deceased always ridiculed and pooh-poohed the idea.

James Edward Barber, a coastguardman, deposed that he was on duty when he heard a cry of “Oh” and on looking up he saw Mr Whitehall falling from one of the upper windows. His body hit the hood of the verandah, then came on to the stonework of the balcony, and for a moment witness thought his body was going to roll inside, but he seemed to turn a somersault over into the flower garden beneath. Witness at once ran to his assistance and helped to carry him indoors. The deceased was unconscious when picked up. Witness had not seen Mr Whitehall cleaning windows before, but he had seen other people doing it, and only last week he had remarked to himself what a stupid thing to do.

Nature of the Injuries

Mr Hugh Roker Evans deposed that he saw the deceased at his residence shortly after one o’clock. He was still living when he arrived at the house but was deeply unconscious and died about three quarters of an hour afterwards. He had a large scalp wound and signs of a fracture at the base of the skull. There were also signs of a haemorrhage occurring within the skull and witness thought it was the gradual increase of the pressure of the blood on the brain that led first to the unconsciousness and then to his death. The deceased’s son said that his own impression was that his father had finished cleaning the window and was climbing back when he missed his hold and fell straight down onto the verandah beneath.

The Coroner remarked that the practice of cleaning windows in the way the deceased had done certainly seemed to be a very dangerous practice, but he did not know they could do anything beyond a recommendation. The jury returned a verdict of “accidental death” and added a rider expressing the opinion that the practice of cleaning windows in the way the deceased had been in the habit of doing was a very dangerous one.

 

Personal Effects

Money left to others: No value recorded

Current value of effects: Not calculated

Census Information

1861

Marchwiel Hill, Marchwiel, Denbighshire

William aged 52, labourer. Mary aged 43. Charles aged 9. William aged 12.

1871

Downham Hall, Clitheroe, Lancs.

Charles aged 20, footman in household of Ralph Assheton, landed proprietor and family.

1881

Duke of Monmouth Coffee Tavern, Coombe Street, Lyme Regis, Dorset.

Charles aged 30, manager. Catherine aged 25, manageress.

1891

21 Adelaide Street, Aston, Birmingham.

Charles aged 39, coffee house proprietor. Catherine aged 36. John aged 8. William aged 6. Robert Perry aged 58, lodger, toolmaker. William Mee aged 35, lodger, tailor.

1901

76 Marine Parade, Worthing, Sussex.

Charles aged 49, lodging house keeper. John aged 18, hairdresser.

(Catherine was visiting relatives in Malvern).

Miscellaneous Information

The Morning Post 25th November 1884.

“Robbery and Incendiarism”

At the Ledbury Police Court yesterday, Charles Henry Whitehall, butler to Mr Charles Archibald Hewitt of Hope End, was committed for trial at the assizes charged with setting fire to the mansion and also with stealing 50 sovereigns and 10 bottles of wine. The fire was extinguished before much damage was done. It was ascertained that the prisoner had a duplicate key of the safe from which the money was stolen. Wine of the same brand of the missing bottles was found in the prisoner’s house.

 

The Worcestershire Chronicle 31st January 1885

“The Ledbury Arson Case”

Charles Henry Whitehall, butler, was indicted for maliciously setting fire to the dwelling house of Charles Archibald Hewitt of Hope End near Ledbury, and with stealing £58 from a safe in Mr Hewitt’s house on 14th November under circumstances which will be familiar to our readers. It was contended by the prosecution that the offence of arson had been committed to hide the theft of the money, and that the facts of the case and the statements made by the prisoner all tended to show that he was the person who committed the offences. It was shown that some months ago, the prisoner had complained of poverty, and that when he was arrested, some £15 was found upon him. The defence was that the fire originated accidentally from the flue of the heating apparatus. The jury returned a verdict of “guilty”. His Lordship passed a sentence of seven years penal servitude. The hearing of the case occupied ten hours.