Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Phipps 1800-1900 - Salop/Staffs

The Phipps 1800-1900

My father's mother was Mary Jane Green, born in 1911. I did not know very much about her family other than that they came from the Brownhills area of the West Midlands.

However, a genealogist got in touch with the family having been employed by a legal team to find some cousins. He was able to tell me that my grandmother's parents were Thomas Green and Mary Jane Phipps. This led me to get their marriage certificate and found out a bit more about them.

The parents of Mary Jane Phipps.
Mary Jane Phipps was born in 1870, the third of 7 children to James Phipps and Elizabeth Gibbons - Click here for more information about the genealogy of Elizabeth Gibbons. Mary Jane Phipps, like the eldest children and her parents, was born in Coseley - part of the industrial heartland of the Midlands. The youngest child, Lavinia, was born in Norton Canes, just near where the M6 toll road now passes.

The family seems to have moved here in 1881 and were still living there by 1901 as shown by this census record - taken in Watling St., Brownhills:

James Phipps in Norton Canes in 1891 Census - living in the "Thachus Building" on Watling Street.

In both 1891 & 1901 James Phipps is a Stationary Engine Driver, while his sons are coal miners. Like many other of my ancestors (well over 50%!) James Phipps and his family are involved in the coal mining process. The engine that James Phipps operated was likely involved in the process of removing coal from the pit. Even though the 1891 census says that James is 34, he is acutally 44! It is a not uncommon error made by census enumerators.

My great-grandmother, Mary Jane, is a dressmaker at this time. 4 years later she married Thomas Green.

In 1881, the family was living in a 'cottage' in Norton Canes and James Phipps was a stationary engine driver as he was in 1891.

In 1871, the family was living in "Gospel Oak Colliery Cottages" in Tipton, Wednesbury and James Phipps was described as a 'Field Engineer'. In this census, the birthplace of all family members is given as Sedgley, whereas in the previous censuses (1881-1901) it is given as Coseley. Also, an eldest son, James Phipps appears (aged 6). He is the son of James Phipps Snr but I cannot be sure from the census whether he is also the son of Elizabeth (who would have been 15 when he was born if she was his mother). I don't know what happened to him after 1871, whether he died or moved away from the family before the next census.

It is possible he might have had a son - Frank Phipps. As in 1901, his parents, James and Elizabeth Phipps are living with a a grandson Frank Phipps, born in 1894. Given he is called Phipps, he is most likely to be the son of one of James Phipps' sons - James, William or Frederick. However, at this time both William and Frederick are single. It is possibly therefore James' son, but the possibility that Frank is the out-of-wedlock child of one of the other Phipps children cannot be ruled out. I'd be interested in finding out more.

Where was James Phipps born, and who were his parents?

Most census returns state that James Phipps was born aroun 1847. His stated birthplace varies:
1851- Sedgley, Staffs
1861- Broseley, Salop
1871- Sedgley, Staffs
1881- Coseley, Staffs
1891- Coseley, Staffs
1901- Brownhills, Staffs
Also see here for more information and click here for an excellent map of the 9 villages of Sedgley Manor.

From James Phipps' marriage certificate to Elizabeth Gibbons, I found that his father was called John Phipps and his mother Mary Phipps. This enabled me to find his family in earlier censuses.

John Phipps is a widower in 1861, Living at Cinder Hill, in the village of Ettingshall, Sedgley

John Phipps and family in 1851 - "Ivy House Lane", Coseley, Staffs. Like his son James Phipps, John Phipps was also an engine worker in Staffs. John's wife Mary is still alive and is 15 years his junior.

Location of IvyHouse Lane in Coseley:

It appears that the family originated in Shropshire, and then made the move to Staffordshire for work in the mining trade around about 1846 - this was not a huge migration. Broseley and Madeley are close to Telford, and still effectively in the Black Country.

John Phipps before 1846?
I have not been able to find John Phipps in the 1841 census, beyond any doubt. However, presuming that he was still in Shropshire, then I found only two John Phipps living in Shropshire - one of these was living in Broseley! His wife is called Mary Ann and he has a 9month old daughter Georgiana. This John and Mary are of roughly the right age, although he is called a labourer. It is possible that this is the right John Phipps but I would need to confirm with parish records.

The 'possible' 1841 John Phipps:

John Phipps appears to have married at least twice, . The last wife he has is called Jane and was born in Atherstone, Warwickshire. He seems to have married her after 1861. - He is living in 1871 with Jane at 13 Ebenezer St., Sedgley and he is still working as a colliery engine driver.

What about the parents of John Phipps?
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