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

Swift Action

Dinah BROOKS was born 1797 in Epworth, Lincolnshire and married a young man from that village in 1824. They brought seven children into the world. Their first daughter, also Dinah, married Thomas SWIFT, a Lancashire solicitor, in 1856. A month or two after their sixth child Eva Sampson Swift was born in 1870 Dinah’s mother died, miles away on the other side of the Pennines.

Dinah Sampson was buried in St Oswald’s, Filey. Her headstone is one of those moved to the shelter of the churchyard’s north wall. It is quite weathered but the transcription’s assertion that she was from Broughton in Lincolnshire can be discerned, just.H24_SAMPSONdinah_20170504_fst

Sacred to the memory of Dinah SAMPSON, late of Broughton, Lincolnshire, who departed this life April 25th 1870, aged 72 years.

Several records relating to the Lancashire Swifts place them in that county’s Broughton and I rather hoped that the monumental inscription was in error, thereby placing the elder Dinah with her grandchildren. But the Lincolnshire Broughton is very close to Epworth – so I am left wondering how much she saw of her Swift grandchildren.

One of these children, Ernest William, was coming up to his fourth birthday when his maternal grandmother died. When he was 23 years old he had an unpleasant experience.


The thoughtful Mrs. Swift referred to was Ernest’s stepmother, Emily Mary. Ernest took his time finding a wife. He was 37 years old when he made an honest woman of Frances Isabel DYKE. I wonder if he left a written account of his meeting with “the great man”.

A bite from a mad dog is nothing to what Ernest’s older brother John Oakden Swift had to endure. FamilySearch Tree shows him married to Ruth Cecilia. This was his second wife. His first, Mary Adelaide OLDROYD, died in August 1890 after just five years of marriage.

John had begun practicing as a solicitor in 1880 and his business in St Helens had flourished. After the early and unexpected death of Mary, he left the provinces for the nation’s capital. He married Ruth in London in 1897 but his practice there failed. In desperation perhaps, he made some unwise investments and traded unsuccessfully on the stock exchange. In 1901 he filed for bankruptcy showing liabilities of over £13,000. This is around £1.5 million in today’s money. I found death notices for John and Ruth. In 1909 John departed this life on 21 April and Ruth followed just 9 days later. Their deaths appear to have been less newsworthy than dog bites and bankruptcy.

The Mad Dogs of Idlib

RT reported this morning that filming of the long-forecast chemical attack has begun. We’ll know this is ‘fake news’ if it doesn’t appear on social media anytime soon. Sadly, rabid psychopaths in Washington, London and Paris are all too real.

Leader of the Band


John OAKDEN joined the British Army in 1826 at the age of 19, according to his service records. An infant bearing his name, born to Anthony and Ann, was baptized in Alsop en le Dale in 1805. The village is near enough to Ashbourne as to make little difference. If the parents waited for a twelvemonth before baptism, the date fits the inscription on his headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard.

In affectionate remembrance of JOHN OAKDEN, who departed this life Sept. 14th 1857, aged 53 years.

‘Be ye also ready for in such an hour as ye think not,

The Son of Man cometh.’

Matt XXIV v44.


John drew his pension for five years. I don’t know how much of this time was spent in Filey and diligent searching online didn’t turn up a faithful companion with whom he shared his days by the sea. The gravestone only records a great-niece who died a few months after he did.

Also of MARY ALICE, daughter of THOMAS and DINAH SWIFT of Prescot and great-niece of the above, who died at Filey, June 20th, 1858, aged 1 year and 3 months.

Dinah was born SAMPSON in Lincolnshire in 1832 and her mother, also Dinah, birthplace not yet known, was a BROOKS. Young Dinah died in Prescot while giving birth to her seventh child, or shortly afterward. The new life and the old were registered in the same quarter year. Thomas married again and, with Emily Mary DAFT, produced another seven children. He was successful enough as a barrister to employ three servants at the family home in Linnet Lane, Toxteth Park in 1891.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA clue to where bandsman Oakden may have lived in Filey is found in the 1861 census returns. Widow Mary Oakden, 52, was recorded at 1, The Crescent, living on her own means and sharing the substantial property (inset) with her niece, Emma SAMPSON, 24. As Emma was a younger sister of Dinah, mother of the infant Mary Alice SWIFT,  it is possible that widow Mary was John Oakden’s wife, but I have been unable to find a  record of the marriage. Both of these women leave the Crescent, and Filey, during the next ten years and I don’t know what became of them.

Little Mary Alice Swift wasn’t on the FamilySearch Tree, but most of her siblings were, though their mother was given as Emily Mary DAFT. I tried to make things right this afternoon and hope I’ve succeeded.

My first search on FST failed to find a likely John Oakden. Then I happened upon Anthony and Ann with four children, including ‘Ashbourne John’. The parents have several duplicate IDs and I haven’t had time to deal with those today. Find John here; three siblings are Ann, Frances, and Georgiana but there may be more.

Men of War?

Thomas and Dinah’s second child was born a few months after Mary Alice died and they named him John Oakden Swift. It would seem that there had been a strong bond between the two families, three if you include the Sampsons. While researching I happened upon a number of Thomas Swifts who were in the British Army. At first glance, I couldn’t find the regimental connection, and a young solicitor taking the Queen’s shilling seems unlikely, but I nonetheless like to think of Thomas and John being brothers in arms. (One of the Thomases was awarded an Indian Mutiny medal in 1857 and this may explain why Mary Alice was living with her great-uncle in Filey at that time.)

Talking of War

As I was writing this post, I received a notification that the US had just attacked a Syrian town, dropping white phosphorous bombs. These weapons are banned under the Geneva Convention for use against civilians or enemy combatants in areas with a large civilian population.  No word on casualties yet, but truth has been “walking wounded” in Syria for years now. Choose your purveyors of news wisely in the coming days and weeks.