Captain William Philps

Thank you to Lenka Cathersides for the following research. Thank you to Stephen Hardingham for the photographs of William Philps gravestone.

William Philps Birth Index © ancestry.co.uk
William Philps Birth Index © ancestry.co.uk
William Philps Baptism Registration © ancestry.co.uk
William Philps Baptism Registration © ancestry.co.uk

William Philps was born on the 10th of January 1867 in Dorking, Surrey to tailor and woolstapler Walter Philps and Harriette Anne Philps nee White. William Philps was baptised on the 6th of February 1867 at St Paul’s Church in Dorking, Surrey.

William’s father Walter Philps was born about 1826 in Dorking, Surrey to tailor and woolstapler John Philps, born about 1787 in Dorking, Surrey and Elisabeth Philps nee Attlee born about 1793. Walter was baptised on the 21st of June 1826 in Dorking. Walter’s mother Elisabeth died in January 1833 in Dorking. During the 1851 Census, Walter was living with his father John Philps, step-mother Margaret Harriet and servant Mary Bax at North side of High Street, Dorking. Walter was working as an assistant tailor and woolstapler in his father John’s business.

Walter Philps married his first wife Fanny Webster Latter on the 10th of November 1855 at St Martin’s church in Dorking. The couple had 3 known children together: Emmeline, Thomas and Clara. Fanny was buried on the 9th of January 1861 in Dorking.

William’s mother Harriette Anne White was born about 1839 in Dorking, Surrey to plumber John White and Mary White. Harriette Anne was baptised on the 28th of October 1839 at St Martin’s Church in Dorking.

Walter re-married by Licence to Harriette Anne White on the 20th of August 1864 at St Saviour Church in Southwark, London.

William Philps had three known half siblings and eight blood siblings: Emmeline Philps born about 1857 in Dorking Surrey (half sibling); Thomas Philps born about 1858 in Dorking Surrey (half sibling); Clara Philps born about 1860 in Dorking Surrey (half sibling); John Philps born about 1866 in Dorking Surrey; Frank Philps born about 1869 in Dorking Surrey; twins Walter and Charles Philps born about 1871 in Dorking Surrey; Robert Philps born about 1873 in Dorking Surrey; George Philps born about 1875 in Dorking Surrey; Harry Philps born about 1876 in Dorking Surrey and Lillian Mary Philps born about 1881 in Brighton Sussex.

At the time of the 1871 Census, the family lived at High Street. Walter Philps was working as a tailor and woolstapler employing 7 men, Harriette Anne was at home, and the couple’s children were: Emmeline, Thomas, Clara, John, William, Frank and twins Walter and Charles. The family also employed three servants.

At the time of the 1881 Census, the family lived at 89 Park Road West in Brighton, Sussex. Walter was working as a manager of gas works, Harriette Anne was at home looking after their children Clara, John, William, Frank, Walter, Charles, Robert, George, Harry and Lillian Mary. The family employed a nurse and general servant.

On the 27th of February 1886, in London, William Philps was issued a Certificate of Competency as a 2nd Master in the Merchant Service. At this time William lived at 6 High Street in Dorking, Surrey.

William had a fresh complexion, blue eyes and light or brown hair. He was over 5ft tall.

On the 11th of March 1890, in London, William Philps was issued a Certificate of Competency as a 1st Master in the Merchant Service. At this time William lived at 3 Webster Road in Bermondsey.

William Philps Marriage Certificate © ancestry.co.uk
William Philps Marriage Certificate © ancestry.co.uk

On the 19th of May 1893 William Philps married, by Banns, Julia Fishenden at St Augustine Church in South Bermondsey, London. William is stated to be a mariner. The couple lived at 3 Webster Road in Bermondsey.

Julia Fishenden was born on the 15th of July 1871 at the registration district of St Olave in Bermondsey to mariner Henry Clifford Fishenden and Julia Fishenden. Julia Fishenden younger was baptised on the 17th of May 1874 at St Anne Church in Bermondsey.

William Philps and Julia Philps had two known children: Elsie Hilda Philps born about 1894 in Bermondsey and baptised on the 15th of April 1894 at St Augustine Church in Bermondsey and Grace Winifred Philps born about 1899 at New Cross in Surrey and baptised on the 6th of August 1899 in Hatcham, Surrey.

On the 17th of November 1893, in London, William Philps was issued a Certificate of Competency as a Master of a Square Rigged ship in the Merchant Service. At this time William and his family lived at 146 Drummond Road in Bermondsey.

William Phlips 1911 Census © Ancestry.co.uk
William Philps 1911 Census © Ancestry.co.uk

At the time of the 1911 Census, the family lived at 23 Arbuthnot Road, New Cross. William was a master mariner and Julia was looking after their daughters Elsie Hilda and Grace Winifred. In the household also lived Julia’s mother Julia Fishenden. Julia younger stated that she had given birth to 4 children of whom 2 were still alive. The accommodation had 6 rooms.

William Philps Deaths at sea © findmypast.co.uk
William Philps Deaths at sea © findmypast.co.uk

Captain William Philps died on the 23rd of March 1916 as a master of the merchant ship SS Sea Serpent. The ship sunk after being mined off the Folkestone coast. 14 men died together with William.

William Philps Death Notice © Findmypast.co.uk
William Philps Death Notice © Dorking Advertiser Findmypast.co.uk

According to the 1916 Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser, Captain Philps had been in the merchant service from his boyhood. Since the beginning of the war his ship had been engaged by the Admiralty on war work, mainly in crossing the Channel to French ports. The Sea Serpent was mined off the Folkestone coast on the outward journey on the 23rd of March. Only an engineer and two seamen survived. The body of Captain Philps was recovered. Captain Philps was very popular in the service and he, together with his family had spent the last Christmas in Dorking.

William was buried at Nunhead All Saint’s Cemetery in the London Borough of Southwark. His grave reference is: 77.32321.

William Philps Probate © ancestry.co.uk
William Philps Probate © ancestry.co.uk

At the time of his death he lived at 67 Musgrove Road, New Cross, Surrey and left his wife Julia £751, 3s and 1d in Probate.

Husband of                 Julia Philps of 20, Albert Road, Wimbledon, Surrey
Son of                          Walter and Harriet Philps of Dorking

School                         Dorking High School 1884-85 (Ashcombe School)

Regiment                     Merchant Marine, S.S. Sea Serpent

Date of Death               23rd March 1916
Place of Death             At Sea
Age                              49

Cemetery                    Nunhead (All Saints) Cemetery, London