Edward [Edwin] Albert WHITING

Whiting Edward Canadian Exp Force Attestation signature

Edward Whiting's signature on his attestation papers for the Canadian Expeditionary Force, September 1915.

Edward (or Edwin, as he was called as a child and young man) Whiting was born in early 1881 in St Aldates parish in Oxford. He was the son of Edward John (a tailor, born 1847/48 and also known as Edwin) and Flora (a shirtmaker, born 1852/53). Edward's parents were born in Oxford, and the first of their eight children, Vernon and Ethel, were born here in 1870/71 and 1872/73. The family then moved to Usk in Monmouthshire where a further three children were born: Flora (1874/75), Clara (1876/77) and Arthur (1878/79).

They returned to Oxford and when Edward was born in early 1881 the family was living at 1 Brewer's Yard off St Aldates. Edward's paternal grandparents Edwin, a stonemason, and Sarah, a tailoress, were living with them. A final child, called Sarah after her grandmother, was born in 1883/84. Edward and Flora had had another child but he or she had died in infancy.

By 1891 the family had moved to 37 Marlborough Road in Grandpont. The oldest child, Vernon, was working as a milkman and Edward's grandmother Sarah, by now a widow, was still living with them. By 1900 they had moved to 122 Marlborough Road. On Christmas Day 1900 Edward's sister Clara married Ernest Giles, a shop manager from Princes Street in East Oxford, at St Matthew's church.

In 1901 five of the surviving seven children - all except the oldest Vernon, and Clara who had married - were still living at home. Ethel (now 28) didn't have a paying job, but Flora (26) was working as a domestic servant; Arthur (22) was a tailor (probably working with his father); Edward (19) was a college servant; and Sarah (16) was working as a tailoress (again, probably with her father). In July 1909 Sarah got married at St Matthew's church, to Matthew Gray, a mechanic from Pembroke Street in St Clement's (now Rectory Road). Flora was married (also at St Matthew's) on Christmas Day the same year, to Thomas Grayland, a gardener from Ascot.

The children's mother Flora died in early 1911, aged 58. In the 1911 census, taken shortly afterwards, Edward (aged 29) and his sister Ethel (now called Ethelleen, aged 38) were still living at 122 Marlborough Road with their widowed father Edward, now described as a tailor/coatmaker. Edward junior was still a college servant.

In the spring of 1911 Edward married Florence Lucy Hymus, who had been born in Oxford in late 1883. Their daughter Eileen Maud was born in the autumn of that year. The family sailed to Canada in July 1913 and settled in Verdun, near Montreal in Quebec; Edward described himself as a 'farmer'.

Edward enlisted as a Private with the 14th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment), service no. 120750, and joined the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force in September 1915, around the time that his son, Edward D Whiting, was born. He was killed a year later, on 26 September 1916, aged 35, during the Thiepval phase of the Battle of the Somme. The village of Thiepval had been a failed objective on 1 July. This second assault was successful and the village was taken by combined Anglo-Canadian forces. Edward's body was never recovered, but he is commemorated on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial near Arras in France and in the Canadian Book of Remembrance.

Edward's widow Florence remarried and became Florence Harrison. It's likely that her husband was called William and that they had a son, Ronald Richard, in 1921/22, who was killed in the Second World War.

Florence and Edward's daughter Eileen returned to England in 1934, at the age of 22, to work as a cook.

Edward's family left 122 Marlborough Road in 1915. The house was occupied for a year by the well-known confectioner Frederick Gibbs, whose main premises were next door at no. 120 and then, from 1917, by the family of Albert Margetts.

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