The Haze family

Our research journey all started because we wanted to look into the history of our school. This led onto discovering that the Norwich Union workhouse was not far away from our school in the 19th century. We immediately wanted to find out more. Online, we found the website below, which allowed us to have easy access to the inmates of the workhouse at the time of the 1881 census. We chose to look at the Haze family because it was one of the families that were born in Norwich and we could be pretty sure they were actually related. Other families we looked at tended to reach dead ends.

As well as looking at the online version of the census, we looked on Ancestry to find the copies of the original census documents. We wanted to look at the originals because we thought it was cool to see the real thing and work out what the old handwriting says. Also, the transcribed version online may not have the correct information. However, it is important to remember that even the originals may not be completely correct, as the people writing them down may have had lots of information to record, and their handwriting is quite hard to read!

To the left is the original census record for Rebecca Haze, which we accessed via Ancestry.

To the left are the original 1881 census records for Elizabeth Haze, 12, Rosanna Haze, 3, and John Haze, 6. They appear to be the only Haze children in the workhouse at that time. We think it is likely that Rebecca Haze (above) is the mother of Elizabeth, Rosanna and John, however we decided to do some further research on Ancestry to find out more about the Haze family to see whether these 1881 records tell the whole story. We were especially interested in finding out why they ended up in the workhouse and what happened to them in the future...

First we looked backwards, to the 1871 census. Excitingly, we found a Hase family who looked like they could be the same family as the Haze family from the 1881 census. Clues:

  • The name is similar
  • Rebecca's age is correct.
  • Elizabeth is the correct age.
  • Same birthplace
  • Same occupation
  • Lived on Barrack Street.

As well as Elizabeth, who was in the workhouse with Rebecca in 1881, there are three other children here: George (7), Philip (5) and Robert (5 months). We began to wonder where they ended up, and why they weren't in the workhouse. We thought that maybe George and Philip may have been old enough to work by 1881, but it is unlikely that Robert, by then aged 10, would have worked. There are many possibilities.

Sadly, when we researched further into Robert Haze, we found a record of his death in 1875.

This got us thinking: perhaps Rebecca and her family ended up in the workhouse because her husband died so she struggled to support herself financially. We also worked out that the year Robert died is the same year that their son John was born. With 5 children, including a newborn son, Rebecca is unlikely to have been able to work, so may have struggled to earn enough money for the family.

To the left is what we think is a record of Rebecca marrying someone called James Cooper in 1881, however we were a bit confused about this because her age is different. Also, her occupation seems to have changed. We were quite confused about this.

We thought that perhaps the above marriage of Rebecca to James might not be accurate, however in the 1891 census Rebecca is still living with a James Cooper, and her age now lines up with the 1881 census.

Robert Haze is back living with them, John is still there, as is Rosanna (who now has the surname Cooper).

There are also now two further children - Benjamin, 12, and Ellen, 9.

The next record we could find of Rebecca is in the 1901 census, where she is living with Rosa and Ellen. However, it appears that James Cooper is no longer living with the family. We wondered what could have happened to them.

In the final available census, 1911, Rebecca is now living with her youngest daughter Ellen, her husband and their two children. We wonder what will happen to Rebecca next, but won't be able to find out until the 1921 census becomes available in 2021.

13 Speke Street, where Rebecca and her family lived in 1911.

We decided to look back into Rebecca's past, to see whether we could find any clues about the things we were unsure about. Interestingly, in the 1861 census, when Rebecca was 20, her occupation is listed as shoebinder. This makes it more likely that the Rebecca in 1881 marrying James Cooper was the right Rebecca, returning to a previous occupation. The age on the marriage certificate is still a problem though!

Here we can see Rebecca in the 1951 census.

Next, we decided to look at Rebecca's daughter, Elizabeth, to see where she ended up. We found her in the 1891 census, where she is married to Albert and they have 3 children.

By 1901, they have 5 children.

We were shocked to find that by 1911, Elizabeth and Albert now have 10 children. We found it incredible that a family of 12 could live in the below house, which is where they are listed as living in the 1911 census.

34 Waterloo road

Here are war records of two of Elizabeth's children. We love how old they look and enjoyed trying to read them!

On our trip to the workhouse to continue our research into the Haze family, we found something exciting. In the birth records for the workhouse, we found that Rebecca Haze gave birth to the illegitimate child Benjamin Haze in 1879. We were surprised about this, as we didn't see him in the online census. Perhaps it was an error when someone was typing it up!

Also on our trip, we used the microfilm reader to look at the admissions records, to try to find out when the Haze family were originally admitted to the workhouse, and which children were with Rebecca. We searched using the microfilm reader for almost an hour, but couldn't find it. Fortunately, a kind archivist continued searching for us after we'd left and eventually found the following:

Admission record for the Haze family. 27 October 1877, Rebecca HAZE aged 39, her children Philip aged 13, Elizabeth aged 10 and Robert aged 8, John aged 5 and Rosanna aged 16 months from the parish of St Edmund in Norwich.

It felt like we were piecing the story together!