1871 : Census living in the Ogmore Valley/Llangeinor area age 19, livin g with Alfred Bowden, the witness to his marriage, - name shown as EDW IN?? - Place of birth shown as Mamhilad, Monmouthshire. Alfred Bowden, Head of house - age 28, Blocklayer, born North Molton Down.
St Cath Ref - EDWIN PHILLIPS - 1852/MAR/Pontypool/11a/125? - not relate d
St Cath Ref - EDMUND PHILLIPS - 1848/SEP/Pontypool/xxvi/154
1875 : Emigrated to NZ - aboard the "Avalanche" which departed London o n 4 Sep 1875 and arrived Wellington on 3 Dec 1875
- Nat Archives Ref - IM 5/4/21 No 236 - also various reports.
EDMUND PHILLIPS (1848 - ?)
Edmund Phillips was born on 18 July 1848 to William and Amy Phillips (n ee Williams) in the small Welsh village of Mamhilad, Monmouthshire, clo se to Pontypool. It is not known if the couple knew each other before t hey met in Llangeinor but their birth places were only 14 or 15 miles a part, their mothers shared the same maiden surname(Williams) and Eve's p arents were married in Trevethin Parish church which is about a mile aw ay from Mamhilad.
EMIGRATION TO NEW ZEALAND:
Two years after their marriage, on 1 September 1875, the married couple emigrated to New Zealand under the Sir Julius Vogel's public works pro gramme. They sailed from London on the sailing ship Avalanche
which landed in Wellington on the 1 December 1875. In the passenger lis t Edmund Phillips occupation was shown as Platelayer which would appear to indicate that he had worked on the Railways in Wales. This occupati on probably qualified him for migration as the Vogel Government were re cruiting workers to help build the roads and Railway systems in New Zea land.
There had been some concern in previous years about the conditions on b oard the migrant ships - more so for those going to America than to New Zealand and Australia as the following quote from "The Immigrants" by T ony Simpson shows:
"Successive British governments passed laws which attempted to establis h at least minimum conditions of travel on immigrant ships. These inclu ded requirements as to victualling, the licensing of passenger agents, t he carriage of sufficient water, the space available to each passenger, the carrying of surgeons and cooks and facilities for the preparation o f food etc"
"The Avalanche was a smart looking iron-hulled sailing ship of 1210 gro ss tons built for Walter Savill by Alexander Hall of Aberdeen in 1874. H er fine lines and neatness aloft bore the impeccable stamp of that famo us clipper-ship builder who had turned out some of the fastest and most beautiful ships afloat" - a quote from "Sail To New Zealand" by David S avill.
Unfortunately she sank in a collision in the English Channel on 11 Sept ember 1877 when she was outward bound with immigrants. Almost all of th e passengers and crew lost their lives.
As will be seen by the final paragraph of the following article that ap peared in the "Evening Post",of December 4 1875, Wellington, people wer e aware of the concern about the conditions on board the immigrant ship s:
"The fine ship Avalanche arrived last evening from London, making a goo d passage of 89 days. She experienced very light winds until after leav ing the S.E. trades, when she encountered several heavy gales from N.W. and S.W., with high seas, and lost her starboard lifeboat. Made Cape F arewell Light on Thursday evening, and arrived at the Heads at 10am yes terday. Spoke the ship Cape Wealth, from Glasgow bound to Ceylon, on 21 st October, and was in company with her for three weeks. Sighted a brig -rigged steamer standing to northward on 22nd October. Passed an iceber g in latitude 46 deg. 48 min.S and longitude 32 deg. 5min East. The Ava lanche brings Government immigrants, numbering 180 adults.
The health has been excellent. Only two deaths occurred - both of infan ts. There were no births. The ship is remarkably clean, and the system o f management during the voyage appears to have been most admirable, esp ecially the arrangements in the event of fire."
EARLY LIFE IN NEW ZEALAND
In February 1877, 14 months after landing in New Zealand their first ch ild, Edwin Phillips, was born, in Sydney Street, Wellington. This is a s treet which is close to the northern end of Wellington and would have b een very handy for access to work on the developing Railways.
In January 1879, Edith Phillips was born in Mangaroa. This is a small s ettlement north of Upper Hutt and at this point in time there were camp s for the labourers who were clearing the bush and working on the Railw ay line and the hill road, both of which were being constructed over th e Rimutaka Ranges to the Wairarapa.
William Edmund Phillips was born in Upper Hutt on 19 October 1880.
Unfortunately there are no Phillips descendants as none of the Phillips children married and there were no children born to them. The last of t he Phillips' children(Edith) died in 1965.
THE "MURDER" OF EDMUND PHILLIPS
The "Murdered in the bush" family legend:
Sometime before 1882 Edmund Phillips disappeared from the scene and in 1 882 Eve set up house with Samuel Clifton in Aramoho, Wanganui. So, it w as thought that in the period between the birth of William Edmund Phill ips (October 1880) and the conception of the first of the Clifton child ren, Arthur Clifton (approx May 1882) - Edmund Phillips had died. The l egend as passed down by Edith Phillips (Auntie Edie) states that her fa ther was quote - murdered in the bush. She also maintained that she met someone later who told her that he knew who had committed the crime - b ut as this was much later no action was taken to report it to the polic e.
At first it was thought that there was some validity to the legend but t here was always the problem that neither a Coroner's Inquest report nor a Death record could be found.
After some perseverance the apparent truth was revealed when the Police Gazettes for the period were made available and examined(in NZ Nationa l Archives).
An entry in the Police Gazettes for Wellington (Page 65), Wednesday Apr il 21, 1880 would appear to indicate that Edmund Phillips deserted his w ife Eve. And there is no record to show that he ever returned.
The entry shows:
EDMUND PHILLIPS is charged, on warrant issued by the Wellington Bench, w ith deserting his wife at Mungaroa, Upper Hutt, since 5th Instant.(5th A pril 1880).
Description; English, a labourer, thirty years of age , 5 feet 7 or 8 i nches high, medium build, sallow complexion, thin features, brown hair, and small fair moustache, third finger of left hand off; wore dark coa t, light plaid trousers and vest, and dark twilled billycock hat. It is supposed that he has gone to Picton.
It would seem that the action of reporting his desertion was taken by E ve. This appears to have been a common practice in this period and pres umably it was done to try to enforce the return of the husband back to t he family with his ability to earn wages and keep the family from starv ation. One wonders how Eve and other deserted wives survived in the har sh days where there were no benefits from a welfare state.
A curious fact is that six months after Edmund deserted her, Eve gave b irth to his second son, whom she named William Edmund Phillips (after E dmund and his father, William).
Edmund's whereabouts after this are not known - no research has been ca rried out mainly because it is suspected that he would have changed his name. As for why he did it - it can only be conjectured that he wished to escape from the life of marital responsibility etc.
He did it when Eve was three months pregnant with their third child. It is possible that he left the country, re-emigrating to Australia where Victoria was having an economic boom, whereas New Zealand was putting o ff many of the recent immigrants brought in to build the Railways and r oad systems. It would seem that the "murdered in the bush" legend was c reated by Eve to explain the absence of their father to her children an d to keep up a semblance of propriety among friends and neighbours. The re is no evidence to show that Edmund ever returned and the fact that E ve never married Samuel Clifton suggests that she had no evidence that h e was dead. There appears to be no record showing that the charge in th e Police Gazette was ever executed.
It is interesting to think that there is probably a bewildered Great Gr andchild of Edmund Phillips(in disguise) who wonders from where he sudd enly materialised.