Callaway connection confirmed

One of the challenges I've had is that William Henry Phillips Snr married three times, and for some reason the details of his first wife had been lost in the family's memory.

Perhaps this was encouraged by the fact that the second wife Elizabeth Phillipps (note the 2 P's) had ancestry tracing back to the pedigreed Arundel family in England.

In my early work with the Phillips family I had found that WHP snr's Death certificate, that indicated he had remarried in Victoria Australia, and luckily was able to get a digital copy of this online. This provided many interesting facts, none the least that he had been widowed in 1868. Given that WHP jnr was known to have been born around 1845 in Truro, Cornwall, he must have been born to the first wife.

Here is the Marriage Certificate for WHP's Second marriage. ( Right - Click to view image in more detail )


Marriage Certificate for William Henry Phillips Snr's second marriage to Elizabeth Phillipps


Note that Certificate states:

  • WHP Snr was widowed in 1868
  • he had 3 children
  • he was born in Plymouth, Devon ( Not Cornwall)
  • she was born in Truro, Cornwall
  • he was 55 - so born in 1820
  • she was 52 so born in 1823
  • all the parents are listed, including the mother-in-law's maiden name, "Rundle", aka Arundel.
  • unfortuantely the names of the witnesses are unreadable - that often tells something


So this was a valuable document in the search for this family history.

So who was the first wife?

This quest has taken many a turn. The name "William Phillips" was a little bit common in the 1800's, and luckily they did have and use the middle name "Henry". Even though, there were still a few of them as well.

One of the issues confronting this search, is that official Government records of BDM (Births Deaths and Marriages) were not kept until 1840, and prior to that there are only Parish Church records. Some of these are online. The offical records are, butonly indexes, names and a year quarter, but no date or other details. With the proper index code, you can purchase a Birth Certificate. Consequently I have purchased many an irrelevant document.

The ship Empress of the SeasI had managed to find a Passenger List for the family's arrival from Australia in 1861. They came on the ship Empress of the Seas that came from Melbourne to port Otago in that year, bringing some of the many thousands out to find gold in the rushes that were occuring at that time. The Passenger list gave this information:

PHILLIPS    ---- MRS    37
PHILLIPS    ANN            11
PHILLIPS    BESSIE        12
PHILLIPS    W H            15
PHILLIPS    WM H        40

This is amazing as it confirmed that the family had united in Australia, and travelled together to New Zealand. Unfortunately it had one mistake, in that Bessie was listed as age 12, making her birth year around 1848-1849. As it has turned out she was the eldest, and born in 1844 ( see below). So as I ahve mentioned before, a Family Tree is an exercise in probability, and this is one example of a low score. Hwoever the document kept me on the trail. Note: The family we understand came to Australia in 1848/50 leaving William jnr behind to get an education. We have been told he left England and came to Australia in 1858.

By cross-referencing census records with the BDM records, I was able to narrow the search down to three possibilities. But even census records online are incomplete, and that was no mean feat. The real breakthrough came earlier this year, when I managed to find a listing for Bessie. She had the middle name Callaway that gave me the clue to confirm one of the possibilities for their mother. Raewyn Beattie had listed her family on RootsWeb, and by chance I managed to make the link. With information provided by her, and other family members, I  have now made the full conenction.

Bessie was actually christened "Betsy Jane Callaway" on the 24th November 1844, just three months after her parents were married. That may have been the reason for their rating Bessie as younger than William Henry jnr.

Incidentally, one other connection that came from the above, was that John Phillips, WHP snr's father, was shown to be living with Arthur Callaway ( Bessie's father ) in the 1851 census in Truro.

This is a case where multiple documents increase the "probability" of each other. They also tell a story of the time, when families were more involved with each other, to deal with the life and death situations they faced.

I will write more in Part 2 of this search.