furlonger hillyer

Subject Name :  Hannah Furlonger Hillyer (b1803 – d1885)

Researcher : Diann Arnfield

‘Augt. 7th 1803 – ‘Hannah Furlonger Hillier, Illegitimate daughr. of Ann Hillier’. This was how Hannah’s baptism was recorded in the Register of Godalming’s St Peter and St Paul’s Church 1.

It was relatively unusual for illegitimate children’s baptismal names to have some reference to the identity of the father, but in Hannah’s case it can be assumed that her father’s surname was ‘Furlonger’, although no other record has been found to confirm this 2.  It is also not known if he acknowledged Hannah and/or contributed to her upbringing.

In fact, no further proven record of Hannah has been identified until the 1851 Census, in which she was noted as a pauper resident of the Guildford Union Workhouse, an unmarried 48-year-old servant born in Pirbright, about ten miles (16km) from where she was baptised in Godalming 3.  There is nothing to indicate when or why Hannah was admitted to the Workhouse, and no confirmed trace of her mother Ann has been found since Hannah’s baptism either.

The 1861 Census indicated that Hannah’s fortunes had appeared to have changed for the better, as she was out of the Workhouse and living alone in Bell Passage, on Godalming’s High Street 4.  Aged 57, Hannah was employed in ‘plain needle work’, a skill that she may have acquired or developed during her time in the Guildford Union Workhouse, having previously been a servant. The Census also noted Godalming, not Pirbright, as her birthplace.

Although Hannah led an independent life in the 1860s, her health was giving her cause for concern. The Guildford Union Statement of Accounts Book for 1864–1871 (the only years still in existence) showed that Hannah received ‘Outdoor Parish Relief’ between 1864 and 1867 due to ‘infirmity’ and being ‘partly disabled’ 5.  The money, plus ‘in kind’ and ‘medical order’ contributions that Hannah received meant that she was able to stay out of the Workhouse, living in various locations in Godalming including Hart’s Lane (now Mint Street) and The Wharf.

By the time of the 1871 Census, 67-year-old Hannah appeared not to have received any funding for the past three years and was living in Hart’s Lane employed as a ‘needle woman’ 6.  This census has been the only reference found since Hannah’s baptism to acknowledge her middle name of Furlonger, her name being recorded as ‘Hannah F Hilyer’ 6.

Hannah may have returned to being a domestic servant before she was readmitted to the Guildford Union Workhouse as the 1881 Census gave this as her occupation 7.  She was now aged 78, and at this age, with a history of infirmity, it seems likely that Hannah remained in the Workhouse for the rest of her life.  She passed away there on 28th December 1885 aged 83 from ‘decay of age’ 8, and was buried in Godalming’s Nightingale Cemetery three days later 9.


July 2020, updated June 2024


All references are from Ancestry.co.uk, unless otherwise noted

  1. Hannah Furlonger Hillier 7 Aug 1803 Baptism Surrey History Centre, Woking; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Godalming, St Peter & St Paul; reference God/1/5
  2. Illegitimacy in England FamilySearch.org
    Illegitimacy: the shameful secret 14 Apr 2007 TheGuardian.com
  3. Hannah Hillier 1851 England Census Return for Guildford Union Workhouse, Stoke next Guildford; Public Record Office reference HO 107; piece 1594; Folio 471; Page 10
  4. Hannah Hilyer 1861 England Census Return for Bell Passage, High Street, Godalming; Public Record Office reference RG9; piece 429; Folio 70; Page 15
  5. Hannah Hilyer 1864–1867 Guildford Poor Law Union Statement of Accounts 1864-1871; Surrey History Centre, Woking; Reference SHC/BG6/33/1
  6. Hannah F Hilyer 1871 England Census Return for Harts Lane, Godalming; Public Record Office reference RG10; piece 814; Folio 98; Page 47
  7. Hannah Hillyer 1881 England Census Return for Guildford Union Workhouse, Stoke next Guildford; Public Record Office reference RG11; piece 778; Folio 91; Page 3
  8. Hannah Hillier 28 Dec 1885 England and Wales Civil Registration Death Index 1837–1915; Guildford, Surrey; Oct-Nov-Dec 1885; volume 2a; page 58
    Digital copy of original from Government Register Office GRO.gov.uk
  9. Hannah Hillier 31 Dec 1885 Burial Nightingale Cemetery, Godalming; Book N3; Entry 2468; page 22. Godalming-tc.gov.uk/burial-records