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A story full of mysteries and unanswered questions

Henrietta Vahid was buried in Horton Estate Cemetery at Epsom in Grave number 1789b on the 28th of May 1915. Her age was stated to be 40. She had been a patient at Manor Asylum. There is no UK record of a birth of a Henrietta Vahid, so a marriage search has been necessary and that reveals that a Henrietta Vinson married a Mohamed Abdul Vahid on the 29th of October 1901.

Early life

We can therefore start this story with the birth of Henrietta Vinson. Her birth was registered in the fourth quarter of 1873 in Petersfield, Hampshire. The registration tells us that her mother’s maiden name was Mells (This could be a an online error as we see the name MILLS later). With that information we can find a marriage of an Anne Mills to a Henry James Vinson on the 3rd of December 1855 in the Parish of St Faith, London. Both are shown as “full age”. Henry is a bachelor, a farmer, and the son of a Thomas Vinson, also a farmer. Anne is a spinster, without occupation and her father is Henry Mills, another farmer. Neither of the two witnesses appear to be related to either family.

The marriage of Henrietta’s parents led to the birth of eight children, all born in Petersfield.

  • 1857 Thomas Henry
  • 1859 Mary Ellen
  • 1861 Annie Louisa
  • 1863 Francis Edwin
  • 1865 Frances Eliza
  • 1868 Ada Anne
  • 1870 Henry James
  • 1873 Henrietta

Very sadly, in the same fourth quarter 1873 as Henrietta was born, her father Henry James Vinson, died. He died on the 2nd of November.

The 1881 Census shows Henrietta living with her mother, Anne, in Portland Square, Petersfield. Anne Vinson is a widow without occupation. Only three of the children are still living at home, Annie Louisa, Francis E., and Henrietta. Francis is listed as a painter and plumber.

1881 census


Henrietta Vinson was married on the 26th of January 1890 at St Peter’s Church, Stepney, London. Miss Henrietta Vinson aged 18, a spinster, without occupation, living in St Peter’s Road, Petersfield (Father Henry James Vinson, deceased) is married to Wallace Dudley Delancy Birch, a bachelor aged 26, a traveller, living in St Peter’s Street (Father William Birch, deceased).

In the Census taken on the night of the 5th of April 1891, Wallace and Henrietta Birch are living as boarders at 7 Pomona Place, Fulham. They are shown as married with Wallace being 26, a commercial traveller, born in Pimlico, London, and Henrietta, aged 19, without occupation and having been born in Liss, Hampshire.

1891 census entry

Although Henrietta’s husband’s name is given both on the marriage certificate in 1890 and in the 1891 Census, and despite the birthplace being shown as Pimlico, a record of a birth under the name of Wallace D Birch in the UK has not been traced. Perhaps this was not his real name.

Tragedy struck for Henrietta in the third quarter of 1891. She gave birth in Fulham to a son named Wallace Birch (named after his father presumably) but sadly young Wallace died in the same quarter.


This was a very eventful period in Henrietta’s life. It began with Henrietta being married to Wallace Dudley Birch and having just lost her first child. There is a lack of information available year by year, but we find out more about the events by having access to the 1901 Census which is based on the whereabouts of people on the night of the 31st of March. We find Henrietta living at 259 Ladbroke Grove, London.

The 1901 census reads:
Abdul Vahid, head, married, 34, occupation ‘own means’, born Agra, India
Hettie Vahid, wife, U, 26, no occupation, born Liss, Hampshire
Ann Vincent, mother-in-law, widow, 66, no occupation, born Liss, Hampshire
Ada A Vincent, sister-in-law, single, 30, no occupation, born Liss, Hampshire
Minnie E Allen, servant, single, 17, General Domestic, born London

(Comments on this document. Abdul’s first name of Mohamed has been omitted. Hettie is not the birth name, it is Henrietta. Abdul says he is married, and Hettie is said to be his wife. This is false information at that date. In answer to the question “Relation to Head of Family” on the form, against Hettie’s name it appears to be a capital ”U”. Web site “Findmypast” which holds this record, has transcribed this as being “Widow”. On other cases on the page where there is a definite widow, including the entry for Henrietta‘s mother, Ann, Wid is definitely shown for widowhood. Finally, Ann and Ada are the mother and a sister of Henrietta, and the correct surname is Vinson not Vincent. At this time, they were not related to Abdul.)

The next interesting document we find relates to a marriage taking place in St John Church in Thanet, Kent, on the 29th of October 1901.

The details are as follows:

Groom – Mohamed Abdul Vahid, age 33, bachelor, occupation “Gentleman”, resident of 259 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, London. Father is Haider Hussain, a Barrister (deceased).
Bride – Henrietta Vinson, age 26, spinster, no occupation, resident of 36 Victoria Road, Margate, Kent. Father is Henry James Vinson, a deceased Farmer.
The witnesses appear to be George Cain and Ada Selby.

Author Thoughts; There are several issues here. Why is Henrietta using the surname Vinson and why does she say she is a spinster, when the fact is she had been married to Wallace Dudley Birch? Why did Henrietta give a residence address in Margate, when in March she had been living at Mohamed’s house in Ladbroke Grove? Had she lodged at Margate to enable them to marry in a remote Church away from London and possible publicity?

1911 Census

This event took place on the 2nd of April.
Living at 13 Ormiston Road West, Hammersmith were:
Arthur Vahid, head, married, age 43, professional billiard player, born Agra, India
Henrietta Vahid, wife, married, age 37, no occupation, born Petersfield
Leila Vahid, daughter, single, age 8, born London
Ninee Vahid, daughter, single, age 6, born London
Cyril Vahid, son, age 5, born London
Annie Vinson, mother-in-law, age 77, born Petersfield
Ada Vinson, sister-in-law, age 41, born Petersfield
Ethel Herbert, servant, age 19, Domestic Servant, born London

Abdul and Henrietta’s children

Children of Abdul and Henrietta in the General Register Office:

  • 1903 Birth of Leila Ameena Anne Vahid in Kensington second quarter
  • 1906 Birth of Hasim Cyril Vahid in Kensington third quarter
  • 1911 Birth of Majida Marie Marguerite Vahid Fulham third quarter

Mother’s maiden name shown as Vinson in these entries.

It has not proved possible to find the birth of the “Ninee” listed in the Census. However, whilst there is also no birth listed, there is a death entry for an Azeeza B H Vahid in Kensington District in the fourth quarter 1918, age 13. That would be the precise age of “Ninee”, so it seems possible this is the same person.

UK Lunacy Patient’s Admission Register 1846-1912

This document shows that on the 16th of September 1911, Henrietta Vahid is admitted to Manor Asylum at Epsom and that she was then discharged ‘Reld’ on the 29th of February 1912, most probably to another asylum.

Henrietta died and was buried at Horton Cemetery on the 28th of May 1915. Henrietta must have been re-admitted to Manor Asylum again, however the Lunacy Register does not go beyond 1912.

Death entries

Death entry for Henrietta Vahid, age 40, Epsom second quarter 1915.
It is noted that Henrietta was first admitted to Manor Asylum in the same quarter as the birth of her daughter, Majida. Significance, if any, unknown.

Death entry for Arthur A Vahid, age 62, Hammersmith first quarter 1929
Mohamed Abdul seems to have stopped using his first name and later became known as Arthur. He was a distinguished billiard player, and in 1893 became the Amateur Champion of Great Britain.

What happened to Wallace Birch?

What happened to Henrietta’s first husband, Wallace Birch? We can find Wallace in both the 1901 and 1911 Censuses.

1901 at 28 Camden Terrace, Ilford, Essex
Wallace Birch, head, married, age 36, commercial traveller, born Bayswater, Middlesex
Beatrice Birch, wife, married, age 30, born Rendcomb, Gloucestershire
Violet Birch, daughter, age 5, born East Ham, Essex
Mabel Birch, daughter, age 3, born Ilford, Essex
Dorothy Birch, daughter, age 1, born Ilford, Essex
Lucy Cross, visitor, age 26, born Gloucestershire

1911 at 18 Park Road, Ilford, Essex
William Birch, head, married, traveller in chemical trade, born Westminster, Middlesex
Beatrice Birch, wife, age 40, married 17 years, three children still living, dressmaker, born Rendcomb, Gloucestershire
Violet Birch, daughter, age 15, assisting at home, born East Ham, Essex
Mabel Birch, daughter, at school, born Ilford
Dorothy Birch, daughter, at school, born Ilford

Comments: It will be seen that Wallace and Beatrice [born Beatrice Cross] are alleged to have been married. I have been unable to find any record of such a marriage. Wallace must have been in a relationship with Beatrice since 1894 or before. I have searched for any record of a divorce with Henrietta but have found no such record. In the 1911 Census, when it would be Wallace himself completing and signing the form, why does he identify himself as William rather than Wallace? It is not certain but all the information available seems to point to the fact, that in the absence of a divorce record, the marriage of Henrietta to Mohamed Abdul may have been bigamous and that Wallace Birch gave false information on the Census documents when saying he was married to Beatrice.)

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