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  • Writer's pictureJessica Feinstein

William Phipps from Ockbrook

William Phipps was born in the village of Ockbrook, which is near the canal on the road from Nottingham to Derby. William was one of Ari’s 5x great-grandfathers, the third son of John Phipps and Mary Hart, who had married in the village in 1782.

In 1797, the year of William’s birth, George III was on the throne and William Pitt the Younger was Prime Minister. The Derby Mercury of 1797 included a notice from the Clerk and Treasurer to the Commissioners, advertising for “Persons desirous of contracting with the Commissioners under the Act of Parliament for paving and lighting the Streets in this Town” (except when there was a full moon), “the Lamps to be supplied with the best oil and cotton”. They were also seeking anyone desirous of contracting to “sweep and clean the streets, passages and places, and carry away the soil and rubbish”.

There had been at least one Phipps family in Ockbrook since the early 1700s. There is a will and inventory from a John Phipps, husbandman, who died in 1730, leaving two spinning wheels and some brewing tubs. He mentions his beloved wife, Ruth, and daughters Elizabeth and Mary, but no sons, so I don’t yet know if this is the same family.

William was baptised on 22 May at All Saints church:

Derbyshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538–1812

On 31 October 1836, William married Mary Taylor in Duffield. The record of the marriage spells his name as Fips, and says that they were both “of this parish”. Both William and Mary made a mark instead of signing their names.

The 1841 census shows the family in Holbrook, living next-door to Mary’s parents. William was recorded as being thirty-five and Mary was thirty. They had three children: four-year-old Mary, two-year-old Francis, and baby Thomas, just two months old. On the other side of them lived a butcher, and they were surrounded by cotton hose makers.

In 1851 they were still in Holbrook next to Mary’s family. William was still working as an agricultural labourer and Mary had started to work as a framework knitter. Daughter Mary was now thirteen and working as a seamer (of silk stockings). Baby Thomas had died in 1842, followed a year later by his brother Francis. A third son, John, had been born in 1844 and was now at school. Joseph (Ari’s 4x great-grandfather) was three, and a second Francis (Frank) was one.

By 1861 William and Mary’s sons John, Joseph and Francis were all working as cotton mill hands, and Mary’s mother Millicent was living with the family.

William died in Holbrook three years later, on 20 January 1864, from typhoid fever. He was sixty-one. His burial took place at Holbrook on the 23rd.

Ari, this is how you are related to William:

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