William Bernard Wharton and Sophia Charlotte Pereira

William Bernard Wharton (in the cover picture) and Sophia Pereira have been covered elsewhere in this blog, but have not yet had due attention to the detail of their official records; this blog post will do just that.

The history before William and Sophia is fascinating. As described in detail previously, Sophia’s father John Pereira has a very interesting story. He is the apparent founding father of bringing together the Hassett-Wharton families, having daughters on both sides of the family tree (Martha Hassett and Sophia Charlotte Wharton). It is to Sophia this blog post first turns to.

Sophia Charlotte Pereira was born 29 September 1881:

Sophia Charlotte Pereira_bap_c

Sophia’s baptism record revealed:

  1. Baptism date: 18 April 1882
  2. Birth date: 29 September 1881
  3. Parents names: John Pereira and Mary Anne Pereira
  4. Abode: Bombay
  5. Profession: Secretariat

As with many other records found so far, Sophia’s parents, John and Mary, resided in Bombay. Her baptism took place in the Mission Church, Girgaum, Bombay. Sophia is one of the few people so far that I have managed to locate her Baptism, Marriage and Burial records.

Her marriage to William Bernard Wharton took place on 24 April 1901:

William Hassett and Isabella de Silva_mar_c

This revealed:

  1. Marriage place: Christ Church, Byculla
  2. Marriage date: 24 April 1901
  3. Sophia’s maiden name: Pereira
  4. Age: William: 24, Sophia: 19
  5. Profession (William): Mechanic
  6. Residence: Byculla
  7. Father’s name: William: William Hastings Wharton, Sophia: John Pereira
  8. Banns or licence: Banns (public announcement in a Christian parish church of an impending marriage)
  9. Witness signatures: E. Jones, G. Wharton

As I have stated previously, the witness signatures may provide some additional insight into the lives of William and Isabella (were the witnesses friends? colleagues? neighbours? or just the nearest people they could drag in to sign the paperwork?) It may be difficult to find out, but could prove insightful.

The marriage record provides William’s fathers name as William Hastings Wharton. So far, I have not found any further information on William Hastings Wharton.

It is interesting to note here too, that William and Sophia were residing in Byculla, Bombay at the time of their marriage. This is a neighbourhood in Bombay, North of Girgaum where Sophia was baptised. The wedding itself took place at Christ Church, Byculla, which is also a common church on many of the records (of other family members) found so far.

As briefly described previously, Sophia died seven years after her marriage to William, on 9 November 1908:

Sophia Wharton_bur_c

Her burial record revealed:

  1. Sophia died: 9 November 1908
  2. Cause of death: Malaria and Exhaustion
  3. Age: 27 yrs, 1 month, 11 days
  4. ‘Profession’: Wife of W.B. Wharton, fitter B.B + C.I. Ry
  5. Burial date: 10 November 1908
  6. Burial place: Sewri cemetery

As with many records found so far – particularly women – Sophia died at a relatively young age. At this time global life expectancy was typically 30-35 years. The cause of her death, malaria, is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans caused by parasitic protozoans of the genus Plasmodium (commonly known as the malaria parasite). Even in the contemporary world there are estimated to be 225 million clinical infections worldwide, with no known vaccine available. There is further evidence that malaria drives T Cells to exhaustion. T-cells are a type of white blood cell that circulate around our bodies, scanning for cellular abnormalities and infections. These are essential for human immunity. Whilst a lot of this research came far too late for Sophia, it may explain the link of exhaustion to her death, brought on by the malaria infection.

Sophia was buried at Sewri cemetery which was located in Parel, Bombay. This is a common burial site for many of the family members discovered so far.

As previously described, William Bernard Wharton remarried to Hilda Mildred Hassett in 1912. Hilda died in 1913 and two years later William died on 20 January 1915:

William Wharton_bur_c

His burial record revealed:

  1. William died: 20 January 1915
  2. Cause of death: Tubercle of lung
  3. Age: 37 yrs, 11 months
  4. ‘Profession’: Mechanic G.I.P. Ry
  5. Burial date: 21 January 1915
  6. Burial place: Sewri cemetery

Based on the typical age of death at this time, William appeared to live a full life to the age of almost 38 years. The cause of his death, tubercle of lung, is a common form of tuberculosis (TB). TB is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. In the contemporary world, TB is second only to HIV/AIDS as the worlds greatest killer. In 2013, there were 9 million reported cases of TB with 1.5 million deaths, with over 95% of TB deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. TB is now preventable and curable through the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG). Whilst the initial research on a vaccination began in 1900, it was not administered to humans until 1921, sadly six years too late for William. The research itself was delayed due to the outbreak of World War I (1914-1918). Even if WWI had not broken out, it is unlikely the BCG would have been ready, or readily available, in time for William. William was buried at Sewri cemetery on 21 January 1915.

The potential impact of the deaths of Sophia, Hilda and William have been discussed previously. Particularly, on William and Sophia’s daughter, Edith Aileen Wharton. The series of events that led to Sophia’s birth, her marriage to William, the birth of Edith and subsequent marriage to her half cousin David Hassett, are fascinating – not least the role of Sophia’s father John Pereira.

William Bernard Wharton and Sophia Charlotte Pereira appear to have been key people in the overall Hassett-Wharton story which continues to uncover new revelations.

Cover picture credit: David Wheeler

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