Brotherly Love

In 1839, Joseph PHILO and Jane WEBB married in St Mary le Strand Church, London, and then created eleven children. Perhaps not surprisingly, Joseph and Jane were favoured names given to the six boys and five girls. We have, in order of arrival, Frederick Joseph, Frances Jane, Joseph Frank, Phillipa Jane, Jane, and Joseph Francis. The fourth boy, Philip, died before his first birthday in 1855. They called their next child Philip. Though it was not unusual for Victorian parents to confer the same treasured name on two or three children, death had to take a child before the name was given again. In this Philo family, however, Joseph Frank and Joseph Francis lived together for a number of years. Any likelihood of confusion, in the home or neighbourhood, seems to have been averted by calling the elder boy ‘Frank’ and the younger ‘Joe’.

This has, however, caused some trouble on the FamilySearch Shared Tree.

This “Joseph Francis Philo” has 11 sources attached to his record and all name him as “Joseph Frank”.

Plain Joseph has just three census sources and in 1891 he has the bonus of a middle name initial “T”. This is a mistranscribed “F” for Francis. Birth, marriage, death, 1911 census and the 1939 Register all give his full name as Joseph Francis Philo.

On 23 March 1873, Frank married Anna Maria GOLDSMITH in Foulden, near Norwich. Their first child, Louis Frank, was born in the March quarter of 1874 and Archie Thomas arrived five years later. Frank died early in 1880. When the census enumerator called in 1881 he unacountably described the two boys as Anna’s grandsons. Also with her on census night were brother in law ‘Joseph’, and a sixteen year-old servant, Sarah HENRY. Six months passed and the boys acquired a stepfather – Robert James PHILO, eighteen months younger than his brother Frank and about twelve years older than Joseph Francis. Robert and Annie had a daughter in 1886 and two years later the family crossed the Atlantic and settled in Ohio.

An accident in childhood blighted the life of Philip the Second. His injuries were not serious enough to prevent him earning a living but he would often complain of faintness, sickness and general debility. He was medically attended for many years by Dr WILLIAMS and was able to successfully run his own portmanteau-making business. When the good doctor died, Philip didn’t seek another, thinking nobody else would be able to understand the fragility of his constitution. Early in 1909 three family members died and he sank into a depression. (Two of the deceased may have been John Oakden SWIFT and his wife Ruth Cecilia nee SIMPSON.)

Philip ended his life on 17 June by swallowing poison he had persuaded a chemist to give him to put down a sick cat. He left a note for his younger brother:-

My dear Joe – May I ask you to do me a favour and be so good to see I am not buried alive, and to be as kind and considerate as you can. Yours lovingly, Philip.

The coroner’s jury returned a verdict of “suicide while temporarily insane”.

One of the floral tributes at Philip’s funeral had a message from the orphaned Oakden children – To dear Uncle, from Violet, Freddy, Dolly and Ruth.

The mourners were led by the woman Philip had married, late in his life – Fanny Wace FARNFIELD. I am having difficulty tracing her forebears but WACE is a family name that crops up a hundred years or more earlier in the Philo pedigree.  The Shared Tree provides many descendants of Francis Philo and Rose JARY but for more detail and easy access to page images of sources visit the Philo Phamily.

One other odd coincidence – Philip’s suicide note was handed to Joseph Francis by Detective-sergeant GOLDSMITH, who also found the empty bottle of prussic acid. I wonder if he was related to Anna Maria.

Landscape 137 · Bay Thicket

A small hollow by the path from the beach to The Bay Holiday Village

Life’s Challenges

John Oakden SWIFT was the second child born to Thomas Swift and Dinah SAMPSON, about a year after his sister Mary Alice died in Filey in June 1858.

He followed his father into the legal profession and for a while was a successful solicitor in St Helens, as his father had been before him. He did not, however, reach the heights of his half-brother, Sir Rigby Philip Watson Swift.

In early January 1885, John married Mary Adelaide OLDROYD in Dewsbury and Hilda Mary was born towards the end of the year in Prescot, Lancashire. The birth of an unnamed male child was registered in 1888 and Mary Adelaide died aged 28 two years later.

I have been unable to find what became of the motherless children but their father married again in the spring of 1897. The bride, Ruth Cecilia SIMPSON, was about ten years younger than John, born in Norwich, where her father was the City Treasurer. In the next six years they brought four children into the world, their births recorded in four different districts – Mutford, Wirral, Kingston on Thames (sic) and Wandsworth. Clearly, the family was unsettled.

As the twentieth century got under way the London Gazette carried notifications of the dissolution of two business partnerships. John first parted company with Edwin Pierce and, a year later, with his full brother, Ernest William (the fellow who consulted Louis Pasteur about a dog bite). And shortly afterwards –

John and Ruth’s marriage survived these setbacks, but not for long. On 21 April 1909 John died in Telford Avenue, Streatham Hill, London. Ruth Cecilia followed him to the grave a week later.

Two years later, three orphaned Swift girls are with their Uncle Joseph Francis PHILO, Aunt Julia and maternal grandmother Louisa Watling SIMPSON at 11 Tombland, Norwich. I don’t know where their brother Thomas Frederick was on census night 1911 but he died in that city in 1976, aged 77.

Find John Oakden Swift on the Shared Tree.

Sand 37 · Message

Muston Sands (maybe)

A Bigger Challenge

Set by the World Freedom Alliance (at Seemorerocks).