Harriet WRIGHT was my 2x great-grandmother and her exact date and place of birth (along with the details of her baptism) are bound up within the mystery surrounding the early years of her father Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT.
It is quite possible that her birth was registered under the surname SHORNDEN, and it seems likely that she was born not long after her parents marriage in 1840, all census information points to a birth around that year. The place of her birth is not quite so clear, with conflicting information given
- 1851 – Ospringe, Kent
- 1861 – Alton, Hampshire
- 1871 – Alton, Hampshire
- 1881 – Alton, Hampshire
- 1891 – Alton, Hampshire
- 1901 – Alton, Hampshire
- 1911 – Cowfold, Kent [there is a Cowfold in Sussex, but I haven’t found one in Kent]
At the time of the 1851 census Harriet was living with her parents and siblings in Alton, Hampshire and in theory this means the information was given by Henry and ought to be most reliable. From 1861 to 1901 she is living with her husband William Henry MITCHELL, who obvious wouldn’t have known first-hand where she was born. In 1911 she is widowed and living with one of her married daughters, so again not first hand knowledge of her mother’s birth.
Returning to the 1851 census we find an eleven year old Harriet with her parents and siblings (Mary Ann, Henry, Emma, William and George) in Normandy Street in Alton, Hampshire. Her father is described as a cutler and lodging house keeper.
On the 4th February 1860 Harriet married William Henry MITCHELL at the parish church in the small village of Exton, Hampshire. Both were living in Exton at the time, which is where William Henry’s parents spent their married life together. [It is also conveniently situated on the South Downs Way so I was able to pay it a brief visit last year]
Together Harriet and William Henry MITCHELL had a total of thirteen children:
- Mary Ann MITCHELL (baptised 26 February 1860)
- Henry James MITCHELL (baptised 3 November 1861)
- Robert Charles MITCHELL (baptised 25 January 1863)
- James MITCHELL (baptised 18 December 1864)
- Sarah Ann MITCHELL (baptised 10 May 1866)
- William MITCHELL (baptised 22 December 1867)
- Emma Louisa MITCHELL (baptised 11 July 1869)
- Elizabeth MITCHELL (baptised 9 April 1871)
- George MITCHELL (baptised 25 May 1873) [my great-grandfather]
- Alfred MITCHELL (baptised 12 September 1875)
- Albert MITCHELL (baptised 5 May 1878)
- Harriet Ellen MITCHELL (baptised 21 December 1879)
- Frederick MITCHELL (baptised 5 February 1882)
These children were born and baptised in a range of villages across Hampshire and Sussex, as the family moved their way across the counties, presumably travelling wherever it was necessary for William Henry to find work. Many months ago I put this information on a Google Map to show the places that the family passed through.
The couple eventually ended up in Sussex, by 1901 their children had all left home and they were looking after one of their grandchildren in Funtington, Sussex. William Henry died in 1908 (aged 74 years) and was buried at Funtington on the 1st October 1908.
In the 1911 census Harriet is living in Portsmouth, Hampshire with one of her now married daughters (Harriet Ellen HUTFIELD with a husband in the navy). Harriet herself died in 1925 (aged 85 years) and was also buried in Funtington on the 12th September 1925.