Tuesday, 9 February 2016

William Phillips of Fallowfield and the Canadian Expeditionary Force .............. stories behind the book nu 2

An occasional series on the stories behind the new book on Manchester and the Great War.*

William Phillips, second from left, circa 1916-1919
Just over a week ago I made an appeal across Canada for anyone who might have had a relative born here in Manchester who served in the Great War in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Plenty of young men will have crossed the Atlantic in search of a new life and then volunteered when war broke out.

One of these was William Phillips who like my own great uncle had been migrated by a children’s charity.

Some had spent their early years in care while others came from abusive or neglected backgrounds and a few were given up by their parents who because of ill health, or poverty were desperate for their children to have a better life.

From the 1870s onwards some of these young people were migrated by charities and the Poor Law Unions to start a new life in Canada, Australia and other bits of the old British Empire.

Today they are known as British Home Children and their history and the history of the policy of migration is being rediscovered.

Detail from his Attestation Paers, 1916
I am not sure what happened to William Phillips, according to his relative he was “a native of Manchester, who was emigrated to Canada as a Barnardo Home Child.

He settled in Manvers Township, Province of Ontario.   At this point I do not know the family circumstances that sent him to Canada.

I knew William Phillips and his wife Violet as they were my Aunt's in-laws.

A wonderful couple to know both William and Violet Phillips came to Canada under the BHC Immigration scheme.

William and Violet, date unknown
They lived out their lives in the Village of Bethany, Manvers Township and are buried at St. Mary`s Anglican Church Cemetery, Lifford, Manvers Township.

What would be interesting is if we could connect with the family of William`s sister Alice who may still live in the area of Fallowfield, High Town, Manchester."**

William had been born in 1898 in Fallowfield and that is pretty much all there is.

His father worked in a warehouse and was widowed and this may be the clue to what happened to William who was the youngest of three children.

It was not uncommon for a single parent to seek support from one of the charities and agree to the migration of the children and so it may well be that this is what happened to William.

Detail from Attestation Papers, 1916
We do know his elder sister either stayed in Britain or if she was migrated returned because in 1915 she was living in St James Road in Hightown off Cheetham Hill Road.

Now I think there is a story here but one which will be a bit difficult to unpick.

Getting to see the records of the charity will be all but impossible for a non relative while many of the relevant records will not be accessible given the hundred year rule.

William Phillips, cirv 1916-1918
That said his Canadian military records can be seen and it may be that there are still living relatives here in Manchester.

All of which means this search has just begun and in the fullness of time we may discover that Mr Phillips returned to Manchester during or after the Great War.

Location; Manchester, & Ontario

Picture; William Phillips in military uniform, second from left, circa 1915-18,  with Violet, date unknown and his Attestation Papers, 1915, courtesy of Patricia Bronson

*Manchester and the Great War, Andrew Simpson, due out at the end of 2016, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/A%20new%20book%20on%20Manchester%20and%20the%20Great%20War

**Patricia Bronson

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