Really this is no longer TARGETT/HILTON story, but just HILTON or SAUNDERS/HILTON story because the TARGETT side of the equation seems quite normal.
If truth I am unlikely to find out any more about the relationship between William TARGETT and Ruth HILTON before their marriage, although there may be something in the parish records that suggests that William was urged (or forced) to take responsibility for his actions and do the decent thing and marry Ruth.
I still need to find William and his parents in the census, prior to his marriage and unless they happen to have been living next door to Ruth HILTON there is probably nothing else that will provide a connection between the two.
The HILTON side is more interesting, and more of a challenge. Having no ages or parents names for Ruth HILTON’s parents is going to make things awkward, but there are still other places to look for clues.
I don’t expect to find a marriage for Ruth’s parents, at least not to each other. There is of course the chance that one or other of them died around the time of Ruth’s birth, which is why they never married, so I need to check for burials and in the GRO Death Index.
I would hope to find some mention of Ruth and her mother Eliza in the parish records for Duncton, Sussex. It seems likely that Duncton parish would have had to support Eliza if she or Ruth’s father were unable to provide for the child. So I need to check to see if there are any overseers records amongst the papers for Duncton parish.
My best bet however it to try and find Ruth in the 1841 and 1851 census. Hopefully she will be living with either one of the parents, or perhaps grandparents. In an ideal world Ruth would have been living with her mother in one census and her father in the other, but the chances of that seem very slim.
If that doesn’t provide me with enough clues, then I need to try and find Richard SAUNDERS and Eliza HILTON in the 1841 and 1851 Census. If Ruth is not with them then it is not going to be possible to say for certain they are the right people. Fortunately the names are not particularly common so it might be possible to produce a small list of likely suspects and narrow them down one by one.
This is going to take some carefully research, but I am confident that it will be possible to take both of these lines back further. I would be interested to see if there is a history of naughty young girls in the HILTON family, or whether there was some respectability amongst the earlier generations.