A Dickensian mystery

In 1836, Charles Dickens’ first monthly part of Pickwick Papers was published in London. (In that same year Davy Crockett arrived in Texas and the Battle of The Alamo started)  Dickens became famous for his observations and stories about the conditions amongst London’s poor, and so it’s not surprising that such a story should appear within this family.

Henry Charles Ivin was born in that very same year – 1836. I can’t actually prove that claim, since there appears to be no record, but subsequent documents consistently suggest it.

In 1843, Mary (b.1811) and a 7 year old Henry (b.1836) are admitted into the Marylebone Workhouse ‘Unable to maintain her bastard child’ – so not much sympathy there! (Charles Dickens publishes ‘A Christmas Carol’ that Christmas)

A year later, in June 1844 Henry Ivin with his mother, Mary (b.1811) are ‘destitute and pregnant’ in the workhouse in Marylebone, London. They are held for only a month and released in July and passed to St Pancras.

In 1850, Mary Ivin marries William Wisewould, a Tailor, in Westminster, London at which she claims to be a spinster, citing her father as Solomon Ivin, a Coach painter. We know Solomon, who spent much of his life in Quenington, Gloucestershire, and where Mary Ivin was baptised in 1810.

In 1851 she is listed as Mary Wisewould (aged 40) living with her husband, William, and also Martha Ivin (b.1786) listed as ‘Mother in Law’. (Martha was Solomon’s wife). But there is also a 15 year old lad named Henry Ivin (born in Marylebone 1836) listed as ‘Son in Law’. In the absence of any better phrase, the son of your wife by a previous entanglement might well be listed as ‘Son in Law’.

Now we jump four years to 1855 (a year after Dicken’s ‘Hard Times’ was published) and find one Henry Charles Ivin (a minor) marrying a Dorothy Wethrell Bulmer in Paddington, London (she of full age). Henry Charles lists his father as William Ivin, a Coach painter. The marriage appears to have been witnessed by a J. Ivin. (In the 1841 census, there is a John Ivin living in Marylebone, claiming an age of 25. In fact, he was christened in 1819 in Southwark and is a son of Solomon and Martha, therefore the ‘other’ Henry’s uncle. At the time of this wedding he would have been 39.)

The next census in 1861 shows this Henry Charles to have been born in 1836 in Marylebone. Dorothy was 2 years older. (Anyone not familiar with London should appreciate that the districts of Marylebone and Paddington are very close to each other, and often listed as in Middlesex). In that same census, Henry and Dorothy have 2 children Henry C. (b.1857) and Emily (b.1859). The father, Henry Charles Ivin is employed as an Omnibus Driver.

So, the big question is, are these two Henry’s, both born in Marylebone, London in 1836 one and the same person?

It should be noted at this point, that Dorothy Wethrell Bulmer hails from Darlington in the county of Durham.

In 1867, a Henry Ivin married Judith Hope in Holborn, London. In the following census of 1871, Henry (b.1836), married to Julia (b.1839) (incidentally from Darlington, Durham) with children Henry (b.1857), Emily (b.1860), Annie (b.1865), Julia (b.1868), and Mary Ann (b.1870).

Of those children, Henry and Emily are clearly those of Dorothy, So what happened to Dorothy?

In 1863 Dorothy Ivin (b.1835) along with Henry (b.1857) and Emily (b.1860) were admitted to the Workhouse ‘Destitute having been deserted by husband’.

So, it seems Henry C. left Dorothy and the kids, and sought out Judith, who we know came from Darlington, Durham. In 1865, their first child Annie was born. Meanwhile, Dorothy appears to have died in that same year in Kensington, London.  Henry and Judith married 2 years later.

(In 1872, at the baptism of his son John William Ivin, Charles Henry, as the father is calling himself, is an Undertaker’s coachman – so consistent with his earlier occupation.)

The coincidence of Darlington, the names of the children and the dates and locations makes me unconcerned that Henry married a ‘Judith’ Hope while the census shows a ‘Julia’.

Judith Hope was christened in 1843 in Darlington;

in 1851 she is Judith Hope aged 8;

in 1861 she is invisible, but son Richardson Hope is with his grandfather, John Hope.

in 1871 she is Julia Ivin 32

in 1881 she is Julia Ivin widow, 40 with son Richardson Hope alongside other Ivin children

in 1891 she is Julia Ivin widow, 48

In 1901 she appears as Julia Dunn widow, 58

In 1911 she is Julia Ivin widow, 67

In 1915, one Judith Ivin dies in Darlington, Durham aged 72 (b.1843)

If these two Henry’s are NOT the same person, what happened to the original Henry (Mary’s illegitimate son) after 1851, and where was Henry Charles before that marriage in 1855? And how come Mary’s brother is witnessing the marriage of Charles Henry Ivin in 1855?

Of William Ivin, the coach-painting father at the 1855 wedding, he could well be the William Ivens (b.1801) who died in in 1874 aged 73, in Marylebone. But after extensive searches amongst the Ivin family based in London (most of whom lead back to Fairford and Quenington in Gloucestershire) I can find no links.

Perhaps the William cited as Henry’s father at his wedding in 1855, is fictitious, using Mary’s husband’s first name and his grandfather’s (Solomon’s) profession.

Anyone know?





3 responses to “A Dickensian mystery

  1. Hello David, I was fascinated to read the story of Henry Charles Ivin, as the puzzle of his two marriages has bothered me for years.
    Julia Adelaide Ivin, his daughter by Judith (Julia) Hope, is my maternal great-grandmother.
    I am sorry that at present I can shed no light on the further mysteries you mention, but if I come across anything in future I will ear you in mind!


    • Hi Stuart, Thanks for your comments. I am, of course, just extracting an hypothesis from the information available in the public domain, but so often the key lies in letters and other records – including family legends. If you stumble on anything that sheds light on their lives I’d be most interested. At least we have some idea of Henry’s ancestors. CHeers, David Ivens


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