Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tryphena and Hephzibah Evenden

I am intrigued by the two spinster sisters with names that could have come straight out of a Thomas Hardy novel, Tryphena and Hephzibah Evenden. 

Family historians researching the Evenden family have little information about these two unmarried sisters who left no descendants and apparently no photographs either. 

As is so often the case these women lived within a close knit family but when they died their life's work disappeared into the ether. No doubt there were nephews and nieces who retained fond memories of their two aunts, but more than a hundred years later nothing is left of these women except a handsome headstone in Christ Church graveyard.

The two sisters were born in Wrotham, Kent the daughters of John Evenden and his first wife Naomi Frances. Hephzibah was christened on March 26, 1820 and Tryphena on July 16, 1826 in St George's Church, Wrotham.

They first appear in Swindon on the 1881 census returns living at Ightham Villa, (a property named after their childhood home) Bath Road, but how did they end up here?

You would think that with such distinctive names it would be easy to track them through the census returns. In 1841 Hephzibah is living with her sister Ruth and brother John in Wrotham where he works as a grocer. In 1851 she is visiting the Leney family in Bow Road, Wateringbury while Tryphena is at home in Greenhithe, Swanscombe with her father, his second wife Sophia Sarah, her grandmother Elizabeth Evenden and three servants. 

I can't discover what the women's father did for a living as he describes himself variously as a 'fund holder' and a 'gentleman'.

So in 1881 the sisters are living in Bath Road where Tryphena dies on August 1, 1889 and Hephzibah on July 21, 1905. Tryphena leaves effects valued at £5,398 2s 11d and Hephzibah £9,894 3s 1d. Both women leave their estates to the administration of Swindon bank manager William Wearing,

Tryphena is a Greek name meaning 'delicate'.
Hephzibah is from the Hebrew 'my delight is in her'

Beautiful names due for a revival.


Tryphena and Hephzibah Evenden


Christ Church, Swindon



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