THE HUNTERS

Victorian Studio Photos
Victorian Studio Photos


William Hunter
William Hunter
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

William Hunter was elusive until he surfaced at The Parade, Epsom in the 1861 census. According to the form he was a retired commercial traveller, aged 83 and born in Tanfield, Durham. Tanfield was once a mining village but the pits have long since closed. You could more or less take your pick as to which William Hunter of that place he was, but the one christened there in September 1777 looked promising, which would make his father Robert. This is confirmed by a rather more modern (1854) marriage certificate.

He was a widower when he married widow Elizabeth Watchon/Watchorn (the surname varies in spelling from record to record) at St Martin's, Epsom on 2 November 1854: she was originally Elizabeth Wood, daughter of cordwainer (shoemaker) Robert Wood and his wife Elizabeth, born Rotherfield, Sussex in about 1801. However, she moved to Epsom at some point, as her first marriage certificate (1833) described her as 'of Epsom', so Mrs Hunter is presumably the reason why the Hunters ended up there. I have to say before we continue that finding out anything about these people is rather like looking forward to a really nice dinner and being served up a stale cream cracker, but we shall struggle on.

As I can't find Mr Hunter for certain in the 1841 and 1851 censuses, we shall pursue Mrs H instead. On 20 June 1833 at St Mary, Lambeth she married Henry John Watchon/Watchorn, a licensed victualler. Henry was born in Lambeth in about 1796 and died in 1852. He was insolvent and in debtors' prison around 1842, and in the 1851 census he was in lodgings without his wife. There seems to have been only one child, Mary Elizabeth, who was christened in Kensington in 1840, the family abode then being in 'Camden Hill'. I think this should be Campden Hill.

The wrapper for this next photo says it is 'Miss Hunter', but I think it is Mary Elizabeth Watchon/Watchorn. I don't know if Mr Hunter had any children from his first marriage, whenever that was, but I can't find any evidence that he did (which doesn't mean much, given the fact that I can't find him before he turned up for his second wedding). This is far more likely to be Mary Elizabeth, as she lived with the Hunters at The Parade and the assumed surname would be understandable if Cuthbert Hopkins didn't know them personally.

Probably Mary Elizabeth Watchon/Watchorn
Probably Mary Elizabeth Watchon/Watchorn
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

There probably wasn't any meaningful money in the Hunter family. In 1861 there were two lodgers in residence and no servant and when Mr Hunter died on 22 January 1867 he left effects of just 200. Mrs Hunter died on 28 March 1870, leaving the same amount. Mary Elizabeth was still at The Parade in the 1871 census and had one lodger. I would like to tell you what happened to her after that but I can't find her ever again, which is par for the course with this family.

If anyone has any further information about these people, please contact the webmaster.

Linda Jackson 2018