1. Welcome to Encyclopedia Titanica
    or subscribe for unlimited access to ET! You can also login with , or !
    Dismiss Notice

John George "Jack" Phillips Ancestry

Discussion in 'John George Phillips Wireless Operator' started by J Burdette, May 31, 2012.

  1. J Burdette

    J Burdette Member

    I am doing some 'causal' research on Phillips (and Moody), and was wondering if there are any others out there who are undertaking the same task. I've found Phillips in the census.

    Does anyone know his parents', specifically George Alfred Phillips, birth date? Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. MANDYMGY

    MANDYMGY Member

    Hi there, Jack's father was born on 20th January 1844 and died on 13th November 1928. His mother Ann was born on 20th February 1844 and died on her bathroom floor having collapsed from heart failure on 6th January 1925. You will find a good Phillips family tree, researched by Ann Laver of Godalming Museum, in the book 'The Phillips Memorial Park' which was recently published by the Arts and Crafts Movement of Surrey. My Jack Phillips biography 'A Farncombe Lad' was published to accompany Godalming Museum's 2012 centenary exhibition 'Jack Phillips and the Titanic' and is available from the Museum Shop or by contacting the Curator, Alison Pattison. Sadly, Jack's closest living relative, Jim Lemaire, passed away in February, just a month before the exhibition opened. Hopes this helps, all the best, Mandy.
     
  3. J Burdette

    J Burdette Member

    Ah, thank you very much. I had been able to locate George Phillips in the UK Census and it shows he was born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire about January 1845. So this helps a bunch. Also the Cenus has Ann as being born in Plymtree, Devon.

    I seen where some researchers have Geroge's parents down as a John Phillips and Elleanora Slade. Do you know if this is true?
     
  4. MANDYMGY

    MANDYMGY Member

    They were Jack's paternal grandparents. There are several 'John Phillips' in Jack's family tree down the generations which has caused confusion in the past. You are right that Ann Sanders was born in Plymtree. Jack's twin sisters Ethel and Elsie were born in Rotherhythe where George was working before the family moved to Farncombe where Jack was born.
     
  5. J Burdette

    J Burdette Member

    Thanks for all of the info. I will continue my research and see what I come up with.
     
  6. Lana Baker

    Lana Baker Member

    Thanks - that's very interesting. I have been able to find some records (censuses, death records, etc.) in my research. I have read on these discussion boards that Jack's sister Ethel was somewhat disabled, but I wonder to what degree. I know she died more than 20 years before her twin sister Elsie and that she stayed with her parents, working in her father's shop.
     
  7. MANDYMGY

    MANDYMGY Member

    Ethel was an invalid (the weaker twin and a little simple minded), lived at home helping in the shop and acting as housekeeper for her parents while Elsie became a teacher and moved to Ripley. Ethel suffered a relapse on hearing about Jack's death,never recovered and never worked again. She died ten years later on 18th July 1922 and was the first member of the family to be buried in the Phillips plot in Nightingale Road Cemetery. It was only after her death that the family were able to erect their own memorial stone to Jack (owing to a rule at the time which forbade the placing of a headstone on a grave without a body) which, somewhat bizarrely, they deliberately had carved in the shape of an ice berg. While he worked for Marconi, Jack gave his parents a portion of his salary to support Ethel and had promised to look after her when they died. In the end, she predeceased both George and Ann. Her sister Elsie lived on until 1953 in the house that her parents had built for their retirement when they left the flat above Gammon's.
     
  8. J Burdette

    J Burdette Member

    That is so sad. So neither of the twins ever married?
     
  9. MANDYMGY

    MANDYMGY Member

    No, but spinsters were very common in the aftermath of the carnage of the Great War. Elsie lived a very full life though and she wasn't really ever alone. When she moved back to Godalming she shared the house with the legendary 'Auntie Phillips' who lived into her 90's and then she spent her final days in a nursing home. As neither the twins nor Jack ever married or had children, there are no direct descendants of their arm of the family.
     
  10. Lana Baker

    Lana Baker Member

    Thanks - I'm so glad you have been able to do so much research! Jack's death really must have been devastating to everyone in his family. The 1911 census indicates that George & Ann Phillips had five children in all, but two died. Since I haven't seen their names on any census records, they probably died as babies or young children. They must have been so happy to have a son - 13 years after their daughters were born.

    Could you elaborate on "Auntie Phillips"? I believe there is a newspaper article from 1912 on ET which has a quote from "the Misses Phillips," which I took to be two of George's sisters. Was she one of them?

    I knew there were no direct descendants of their family; oddly enough, though, I've seen several news articles with quotes from people who describe themselves as Jack Phillips great-niece, etc. They are probably distant cousins.
     
  11. Lana Baker

    Lana Baker Member

    The article to which I referred is "Titanic Wireless Operator" from the Wiltshire Times on 20 April 1912.
     
  12. J Burdette

    J Burdette Member

    Mandy:

    I'm curious about this 'Auntie Phillips' as well.
     
  13. MANDYMGY

    MANDYMGY Member

    'Auntie Phillips' was George's sister Sarah, a.k.a Auntie Sal. Quite a formidable character by all accounts! Yes, I've done a lot of research over the years. I've been a Titanic buff since 1985 and have been specialising on the Marconi shack and the Phillips story since 1994. As I mentioned earlier in the thread, I wrote the majority of the recent Phillips exhibition in Godalming and also the biography and other exhibition materials that accompanied it. Along with the rest of the 'crew' from the museum, I was stunned that we had over 6000 visitors to the exhibition. Not bad for a small town museum and more than three times the usual footfall for the time of year. The exhibition even featured in the Los Angeles Times which was really thrilling.

    The lady who was described in the press as a 'great niece' was a member of a family called Phillips who genuinely believed (due to family folklore) that they were descended from Jack's grandfather (yet another John Phillips). However, it has recently been shown that there were two 'John Phillips' born at similar times at the start of the 19th century. One was a master tailor (and 'Titanic' Jack Phillips's grandfather) and one was a landscape gardener. The 'great niece' is descended from the latter. Fred Phillips' (George's brother) grandson Jim was, at 94 years old when he passed away in February, Jack's closest relative known to me, but there are a number of other threads of the family in Australia. Jim's mum (Jack's cousin Katy) kept a photo of Jack by her bedside until the day she died and apparently always spoke very proudly of him. As I mentioned before, my focus is Titanic and Jack's life story but the 'family tree genius' at Godalming Museum is a wonderful lady called Ann Laver who has helped me enormously and who is so good at tracking people down that she should have been a detective!
     
  14. J Burdette

    J Burdette Member

    Speaking of photos, are there any photos of the twins available on the internet? I've yet to come across any.
     
  15. Lana Baker

    Lana Baker Member

    I'm curious about that as well. I saw a couple new (to me) photos in this BBC news video about Jack (BBC News - Jack Phillips: Boy from Godalming became Titanic hero). Any ideas about who all the people are in the group photo taken oudoors? And are any of Jack's family visible in the footage of the memorial dedication in 1914?
     
  16. MANDYMGY

    MANDYMGY Member

    The twins are in one of the photos (and the newsreel footage) of the opening ceremony at the cloister on 15h April 1912. They are sitting on the left of the plaque with their parents, below Gertrude Jekyll and the ladies of the memorial committee who are on the steps and in front of Harold Bride and his parents. Both are wearing large hats and are heavily veiled so you can't really make out their faces. I'm not sure where you would find the picture on the internet but we used it in the exhibition, in 'A Farncombe Lad' and it also features in the Arts and Crafts Movement book.
    I have another picture which I am 90% sure is Ethel and Elsie but, as I haven't completely verified it yet, we couldn't use it for the exhibition or the biography. We know the girls weren't identical but, like many pairs of twins, they dressed alike. Although they were a lot older than him, Jack used to tease them as if they were his little sisters on the postcards he sent them while he was at sea. One of the strong factors in favour of the picture I'm working on is that there seems to be a strong family resemblence to him, so I'm hopeful - fingers crossed!
     
  17. Lana Baker

    Lana Baker Member

    Thanks for all your input, Mandy. Have you been able to find much in your research through public records or more through family interviews & private correspondence, etc.? Public records can be dry - it can be difficult to determine someone's personality. I understand that Jack liked to send Elsie postcards which she kept in an album (which was sold and split up about 15 years ago, without being catalogued). Is there any surviving correspondence with anyone else?
     
  18. J Burdette

    J Burdette Member

    Lana, I think I seen one of those postcards in the book Titanic: Fortune and Fate. That's a shame they were "sold and split up".
     
  19. MANDYMGY

    MANDYMGY Member

    My research has been a combination of public records, private correspondance and a large helping of coincidence and sheer good luck! To my knowledge, there is very little first hand correspondance still in existance (although who knows what may be lurking in the attics of Godalming!) but there is certainly a quantity between George Phillips and Marconi in the 12 months following Jack's death that is very enlightening. As Lana says, the primary source for 'first hand' information is Jack himself and his postcards to Elsie and Ethel. There were originally 312 cards in Elsie's album, roughly one for every week of Jack's career with Marconi, and they were separated following the album's sale at Christie's in London in 1997. Individual cards come back on the market from time-to-time and the two that Jack sent from Titanic herself were both up for auction around the time of the centenary). Over the years, I have been gradually acquiring cards as they show up, although sadly the 'Titanic' cards are well out of my reach. We used my collection as the main back drop for the centenary exhibition in Godalming. They give a delightful insight into Jack's character, his highs and lows and perhaps most surprisingly, his wicked sense of humour. He may have been a 'hero' but he was also a nice ordinary guy who clearly adored his family.
     
  20. George

    George Member

    Hi everyone. I live in Australia, my parents are English. I need some help with family connections to John George "Jack" Phillips. My Paternal Grandfather, George Edgar Clements, always called him "Uncle Jack". There is also a name, Leah Phillips, and a photograph of her in our old albums. I am told he is my Great, Great Uncle...can anyone confirm? I will speak to my Father and get more info.
     
Loading...