Four Births, Two Marriages: curious bonds of the Hassetts and Whartons

In early February, 2015, following the discovery of the 1908 burial record of Sophia Charlotte Wharton, I assumed, given my previous findings of a similar nature, that Sophia’s husband, William Bernard Wharton, must have remarried. I quickly located a 1912 marriage entry for William to Hilda Mildred Hanett.

What I did not realise at that time was how similar William and Hilda’s marriage was to that of William’s daughter (from his marriage to Sophia), Edith Aileen Wharton to David Vincent Hassett. Strange as that last sentence may sound, the discovery of William and Hilda’s marriage may have provided a huge breakthrough in explaining some subsequent events.

The initial marriage entry I discovered had William’s new wife named as Hilda Mildred Hanett. This was incorrect.

In April, 2015, while collecting additional records in the British Library, London, I came across a marriage record for Hilda Mildred Hassett and William Bernard Wharton. This led to the discovery of a baptism record for Hilda.

Suddenly, in front of me were key pieces of information about the Hassetts and the Whartons. But how does it all connect?

It is clear from the findings so far that these two families shared common bonds.

John Pereira appears to be – unbeknown to him in the mid-nineteenth century – the founding father of the Hassett-Wharton story. Yet his surname is Pereira and his two marriages were to (1) Regina Pereira (maiden name unknown) and (2) Mary Anne Lee.

Not a Hassett or a Wharton in sight.

Until 1 March 1885, when 21-year-old James Hassett married 19-year-old Martha Pereira, John Pereira’s daughter from his first marriage. James and Martha had many children (to be discussed later), however, two in particular stand out at this stage. Hilda Mildred Hassett, born 24 December 1885, and her younger brother David Vincent Hassett, born 23 September 1896. Both in Bombay.

In December 1876, William Bernard Wharton was born to William Hastings Wharton (mother unknown). His birth place is unknown, however, we do know that he resided in Byculla, Bombay. Five years later in Bombay, on 29 September 1881, Sophia Charlotte Pereira was born to John and Mary Anne Pereira. William and Sophia married on 24 April 1901 and had several children (also to be discussed later). The child who stands out the most at this stage is Edith Aileen Wharton, born 31 October 1903.

Edith’s childhood (as the India Office records portrayed) was one of tragic bereavement, not least with the death of her mother, Sophia, on 9 November 1908. Edith stood out early in the family research as an intriguing character. An extra layer of intrigue is added through the discovery of her father’s marriage to Hilda Hassett, revealing that her step-mother was the sister of David, Edith’s future husband.

Between 1876 and 1903, four births:

  1. William Bernard Wharton (1876)
  2. Hilda Mildred Hassett (1885)
  3. David Vincent Hassett (1896)
  4. Edith Aileen Wharton (1903)

Which led to two marriages:

  1. William Wharton marries Hilda Hassett (1912)
  2. David Hassett marries half-cousin Edith Wharton (1922)

It is easy to look backward and make assumptions. The title of John Pereira’s story ‘The Curious Case of John Pereira‘ was tongue-in-cheek, however, the title gains additional relevance here. As we unravel the Hassett-Wharton story back in time, we come to one John Pereira, seemingly the catalyst of a series of events which brought two families together changing the course of their lives forever.

The full details of which remain a mystery, for now. But with many records of the Hassett and Wharton offspring to examine, there promises to be further revelation ahead.

Cover picture credit: Wiki

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