James Whiteman (1893-1954)
& Hannah Russell (1892-1952)

Hannah c. 1910? James c. 1910? Marriage 1916

This directory contains information and documents about the parents of Irene Gladys Whiteman (1926-2004), who became Clarke on marriage to Edward Anthony (Tony) on 9 August 1948.

Rene's parents were not from well-to-do families,but we've put together some details of both their lines.

Rene's father was:

James came from a line of farm labourers in a small village south of Bedford, called Houghton Conquest. He broke from the tradition, and worked on the railway. The railway is a little distance away, so he presumably worked in Bedford. At 22, in 1916, he was a sapper in the Royal Engineers, and was at Longmore Camp in Hampshire, 20 miles north of Portsmouth. Rene's mother was

Hannah came from a line of (at least two) toolmaker-fitters. Her grandfather and father were both from the Midlands, although her father spent some time in London. In the 1891 census, the family was in Willesden in London, where her two elder siblings had been born, and where she was born the following year. Her birth certificate shows she was born in Neasden U.S.D. (London), and that her father's occupation was Engine Fitter. The informant was her father. She is in the census for 1901, aged 8, with her parents at 42 Milton St Derby.

We have no evidence that Hannah was ever in Bedford. Hannah's father Frederick was working in the Dockyards. A relation on James' mother's side, Will Cope, was also in Portsmouth, and is understood to have been the reason that Frederick went there. His wife, also Hannah, appears to have separated from him by then, but his daughter Hannah appears to have been living in Portsmouth by 1916. So presumably James and Hannah met in Portsmouth c. 1915. James was a sapper in the Royal Engineers, at the time of their wedding in a camp 20 miles north.

Hannah and James were married on 27 Feb 1916, in Portsmouth (Cert L, R) at St Margaret's Eastney (beside Southsea, in Portsmouth). He was 22 and she was 23. His address was shown as Longmore Camp, and his occupation as Sapper in the Royal Engineers. His father is shown as Harry Whiteman, Platelayer. Her address is shown as 36 St Augustine's Rd, East Southsea. Her father is shown as Frederick Russell, Fitter in Dockyard. The witnesses were F.K. Russell and A.E. Russell (Hannah's older brother and sister).

Their only child was Irene Gladys Whiteman, b. Portsmouth 26 Jun 1926, over 10 years after their marriage, when James was 33 and Hannah 34. Here's Rene's home-page.

Ribecourt, March 1919
40 miles south of Lille, 4 months after the Armistice

James, Hannah and Rene c. 1930

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A rare 'happy snap', in summer
Probably mid-1932

From 1926 to 1948, Rene's life was closely intertwined with those of her parents. The family lived at 36 St Augustine's Rd in Southsea from 1916 until 1941. Hannah was somewhat sickly much of her life, but Southsea was a seaside holiday resort, and, at least during the mid-to-late 1930s, Hannah ran it as a boarding house. Not to put too fine a point on it, Hannah appears to have been both sickly and a bit unpleasant at times. And James didn't play a very strong hand. And the times were very grey. Rene seems to have been the one ray of sunshine that either of them ever had in their lives.

Portsmouth was subject to very heavy air-raids in 1940-42, and their house was destroyed by a parachuted landmine in April 1941. Hannah (then just turning 49) and Rene (14) were evacuated to 'High Tor', Basingstoke for about 18 months. James (then 48) was in the railway and hence in a restricted occupation. The family later moved back to Southsea, living at 19 Exeter Rd c. 1943-46, and then 89 St Mary's Rd c. 1946-52/54.

Hannah, James and a sunny Rene, c. 1937

... Detail

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Alan Smith (Kath's husband, Best Man),
June Bance (Bridesmaid),
and Hannah, 9 Aug 1948

In March 1947, Rene met Tony Clarke, and they married in August 1948. They lived in Southsea and then North End. Hannah was possessive, and somewhat obsessive as well; and post-War England was not a pleasant place in any case. Tony and Rene migrated to Australia in mid-1951, following Tony's elder brother.

Hannah died only a few months later, on 13 Feb 1952, at 59 years of age. Her last few letters were heavy reading at nearly 60 years' distance and must have been very hard for Rene to take. Hannah's death certificate (Cert L, R) shows her address as 89 St Mary's Rd U.D., and the cause of her death as "(a) Hypostatic pneumonia, (b) Myocardial degeneration, (c) Chronic Bronchitis and Asthma". The informant was James, widower, present at the death, of 89 St Mary's Rd Fratton Portsmouth.

Tony and Rene tried to arrange for James to join them in Australia, but Immigration bureaucracy slowed them down, and when approval finally came through he was too ill to travel. They returned to England at the beginning of 1954, with the intention of caring for him, but he passed away on 7 Feb 1954 at 60, while they were at sea.

Jame's death certificate (Cert L, R) shows his address as 89 St Mary's Rd U.D. His occupation was shown as Pensioned Fitter's Mate, British Railways. Cause of death was "Pulmonary tuberculosis, Parkinson's Disease, Natural Causes". The informant was E.J. Whiteman, brother, of 36 Bedford Rd, Houghton Conquest. It's not clear whether Ted was actually present). We understand that his son-in-law's father, Willie Tony Clarke, dropped in for a visit and found James dead on the floor. (Willie Tony was not quite 62, but 14 months later, he was dead too). Here are the Letters of Administration for James.

This a page within Roger Clarke's Family Web-Site
Contact: Roger Clarke
Created: 6 Sep 2006; Last Amended: 7 Mar 2011