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The Life Voyage of my Grandfather
By Brian J Whipp

Image Copyright © Captain Stephen J. Card

S.S. Zaandam 1882-1897 the ship that Thomas Whipp and his family sailed in from Southampton to New York USA on 11th July 1885


                                                                                  5 Hove Street, Hove, Sussex. Taken apx 1928

Left to Right. Mabel Amy Black (nee Whipp), Jesse George Whipp, Grandmother Mabel Eliza Whipp (nee Amos), unknown, Francis Maud Ives (nee Whipp), Florence Ivy Whipp (later Blunden), unknown, unknown and Sydney John Whipp. Front right is Duncan Black.
Boy front centre unknown. Photo is believed to be taken by my father Frank Whipp age 20
There is no known photograph of Thomas Whipp.

The life and times of Thomas Whipp


My grandfather Thomas Whipp could not write and possibly not read.
He married twice and had 14 children and 37 grandchildren.
His eldest child was born in Wales, one born in the USA and the rest born in Hove and Brighton, England.

He was a travelled man with little means who tried looking for a better life in the United States but ended up in poor housing in Brighton and then with his second family in a crumbling cottage on Hove beach.

He variously was a Labourer, Pleasure Boatman and Fisherman.

Born on 25th November 1851 in Clanfield, Oxfordshire, Thomas was one of 10 children born to Agriculture worker Frederick Whipp and wife Elizabeth Young.

Clanfield Oxfordshire the birthplace of Thomas Whipp. His parents never moved from tied cottages in the village.

Part one.

At the age of 20 in 1871 Thomas is found living in Blaina, Aberystruth, Monmouthshire and two years later marrying his first wife Mary Louisa Day in Swansea.

Thomas and Mary had 7 children. First child Amelia Maud was born in 1876 in Swansea, Wales. Frederick John was born two years later in 1878 with Thomas George being born in 1880 and Emily Jane in 1883. All were born in Brighton, Sussex. Edith Ann was born in the USA in 1886. Two further boys were born in Brighton in 1888 and 1890 but both died in infancy.

The move to Brighton with his family may have been prompted by wishing to be living near his sisters. Elizabeth had married Alfred Grossmith in Brighton in 1874 and Sister Emma had married Samuel Greeves in 1874 and by 1876 was also living in Brighton.

From: ‘Labour Migration in Southern and Eastern England’, 1861-1901George R. Boyer. Cornell University.

"The so-called ‘friends and relatives’ effect. The presence of friends or relatives in a destination performed three functions for individuals in the origin area contemplating migration. First, they provided information on wage rates, employment opportunities, and amenities/disamenities in the destination. Second, they lowered the costs of job search by financially supporting new migrants until they found employment. Finally, the existence of friends and relatives reduced the psychic costs of migration".

In 1869 at age 15 Thomas’s younger brother Jesse (who also could not write) was 'Discharged and acquitted' from Reading Quarter Sessions for 'wounding'.
He eventually also moved to Brighton and in 1878 he married Agnes Richardson.
This marriage did not last however and in 1884 he married Agnes Gibbs in St Peters Church, Brighton.

Jesse Whipp and his second wife emigrated to Texas, USA shortly after their marriage. No evidence of their arrival can be found but family legend is that they arrived in Cleburne Texas via Canada. In the 1900 USA Census the family settled on a rented farm in Justice Precinct 7, Crawford town, McLennan, Texas. Their life in Texas was hard and by 1906 Jesse was dead. Three of four boys died young. Agnes Whipp lived until 1918 and had 6 grandchildren from her surviving son Frederick.

My grandfather Thomas Whipp, his wife and family of four children followed his younger brother Jesse, to the USA and emigrated arriving in New York on the S.S. Zaandam of the Holland America Line 11th July 1885.

It is not clear if the family got to meet in Texas but by March 1886 their fifth child, a daughter Edith Ann was born in Texas but remained a British citizen.

What happened to the family after that is not clear.
But by 1888 the whole family had returned to live back in Brighton at the same poor housing in Cannon Court, Chuters (sometimes spelled Shuters) Gardens. Was a factor in the move back the poor health of their son Thomas George?

Thomas Whipp took up with the Brighton fishing families with pleasure boatman work to make a living.

1. After her mother’s death Amelia Maud worked as a domestic servant for her married aunt Amelia Clack (nee Whipp) and husband Richard at 24, Hunt Street, Swindon, Wiltshire.
She later married Charles Thomas Day in Fulham, London in 1902 and then emigrated with husband and five children to Two Rivers, Wisconsin, USA. (Her photo below).

2. Son Frederick John joined the Join Royal Sussex Regiment in 1899 and married Henrietta Rachel Steed in 1903. He sailed alone on the 29th July 1910 from Liverpool on ‘Empress of Ireland’ Canadian Pacific Lines to Quebec, Canada. He was discharged from the Army in 1911. His wife later joined him with two children in British Columbia, Canada and the 1921 Canada census shows family living in British Columbia and renting a farm with nephew Charles Frederick Thomas Day age 17 living with them. (Their photo below.)

3. Son Thomas George continued to live with father and step mother.
He had a job as a paper seller. He died in 1918 aged 37 in the County Asylum, Hellingly, East Sussex from Pulmonary Tuberculosis, Multiple Abscesses and Imbecility.

4. Daughter Emily Jane went into domestic service and in 1901 census is shown living at 8 Regency Square Brighton. She married in 1906 William Thomas Wilder in Fulham London and later had five children.
(Her photo below.)

5. Daughter Edith Ann after her mother’s death is shown in the 1901 census age 15 as placed in the care of the ‘House of Mercy’ Windsor (St Johns Home, Hatch Lane, Clewer) a famous Anglican Establishment. She becomes a domestic servant and married John Thomas Kenny in 1908 in Fulham London and had five children.

6. Job Henry born 1888 and died Brighton 1889
7. James Richard born and died Brighton 1900

Thomas's first wife Mary Louisa Whipp died at the age of 36 in 10 Chuters Gardens, Brighton in April 1893 with Influenza Pneumonia. (Her photo below.)


Part two.

My grandmother Amy Eliza Amos was born on the 28th February 1872 in Deptford, London.
She was one of 11 children born to Richard John Amos and Sarah Caroline Warren.
She married Thomas Whipp on the 16th August 1893 in St Pauls Church, West Street, Brighton and moved into number 10 Chuters Gardens, the home of widower Thomas.
This was a small cottage with an entrance along a passage to the side of the Church in West Street. (Photo below.)

It is not known if Thomas’s children from his first marriage Emily Jane age 10 and 7 year old Edith Ann were living at this address at this time but son Thomas George continued for a time to live with his father and stepmother.

8. Thomas and Amy’s first child Alfred Jesse was born 22nd August 1895 in Brighton.
He became a Metropolitan Policeman and married Gladys Mabel Smith in Marylebone, London in 1925. They had three children.

9. Daughter Mabel Amy "Queenie" was born 13th April 1897 also in Brighton.
She married a Scottish Airman Duncan Black in 1919 in Lewisham, Kent.
He was a Squadron Leader in the Canadian Air Force at Shoreham Airport.
They had one son Raymond born in Bromley, Kent in 1919. On 13 August 1920 wife Mabel and son sail to Quebec, Montreal Canada to join husband who had returned to Canada,

By 1900 my grandfather Thomas and family had moved and were living in a crumbling home right on Hove beach at 4 Beach Cottages.

10. Son Jesse George was born in Hove on 26th July 1900. He became a sailor and Confectioner. His ship HMS Barham was torpedoed in the Mediterranean during World War One. He married Francis May Elliott in Hove in 1922. They had two children but separated later. In 1935 Jesse started a family with Katherine Lorraine Cooper in Hove. They had a total of eight children. (Their photo below.)

11. Daughter Francis Maud "Bubbles" was born in Hove on 6th March 1903. She married Earnest Ives in Hove in 1926. They had two children. (Her photo below.)

12. By 1906 when daughter Florence Ivy was born on the 13th April the family had moved into a semi-detached cottage in 5 Hove Street, Hove. The Beach cottages were subsequently demolished!
On the 12th October 1929 she married George William Blunden. They had one son Eric George. Husband George Blunden became a soldier during WW2 and died in 1940 from injuries following German bombing. Florence Ivy’s second marriage was to Edward Argles Durrant Oxley in Hove on 14th June 1948.

13. Their next son (my father) Frank ‘Sonny’ was born in Hove on the 14th December 1908. He was a ‘bitumen roofer’ by trade and a keen amateur dancer.
He met my mother Jenny ‘Jean’ Pike in the dance Halls of Brighton and they married in the Brighton Register Office on the 9th September 1933. My mother who was born on the 10th April 1903 in London gave her age at marriage as 25! Frank Enlisted in the Royal Air Force 1st July 1940 and became a Leading Aircraftman and Ground gunner.

I was born on the in 1941 and my brother David in 1943. Both of us were born in Brighton. Just before my brother was born my mother and I had a narrow escape from a German bomb exploding in the shared gardens at 29 Park Crescent, Brighton.
Our garden flat was damaged and we were rescued unharmed but both covered in soot!
My mother and father separated in 1943.

14. Sydney John was the last child born to Thomas and Amy in Hove on the 12th May 1912.
Sydney was a butcher by trade and also a busman. He married Gladys Dipper in 1936.
They had one daughter named Frances.

For a grandson writing this about a Grandfather’s life, and living as I do in Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, It came as a surprise to find only recently that my Grandfather Thomas Whipp died in my home town.
(It took some time to find the relevant death certificate as the Registrar had wrongly submitted the surname as ‘Whiff’.  He did not read my grandmother's writing properly and must of been 'hard of hearing'!)

He died of Carcinoma of the Jaw at the age of 65 on the 13th August 1917 in the 'Steyning Union Infirmary' in Kingston-by-Sea. The Infirmary is now replaced by Southlands Hospital and part of greater Shoreham-by-Sea!

Thomas is buried in an unmarked grave with burial number 12188 in Hove Cemetery South, Old Shoreham Road, Hove. BN3 7EF.
He is registered with the surname 'Whiff'. Not that it is marked but its number is SB-621.
He may only have been buried with a simple wooden cross, which with time, has just rotted away!

The Informant of his death was his widow, my grandmother Amy Eliza Whipp of 5 Hove Street, Hove.
She died aged 86 in Hove on the 15th April 1958.


Left: An early photo of the entrance to Chuters Gardens, next to St Pauls Church, West Street, Brighton.
The poor condition cottages can just be seen in the background. Two of Thomas’s youngest children and later his first wife died here.
Right: The type of fishing boat that Thomas Whipp would work on when converted to ‘pleasure boating’ from Brighton beach.
This was very seasonal work.

Grateful thanks go to Loretta Thibeau from Chicago, Ilinois, USA for the early Whipp photos below of Mary, Amelia, Frederick and Emily.

  Mary Louisa Whipp (nee Day)         Amelia Maud Day (nee Whipp)  

Frederick John Whipp & wife Henrietta        Emily Jane Wilder (nee Whipp)

    Amy Eliza Whipp (nee Amos)   Jesse George Whipp & partner Katherine

    Francis Maud Ives (nee Whipp)   Whipp Family reunion
                                                                                                                                                                    R. FrancesWhipp b.1949,
My father Frank Whipp 1908-1971,
Mabel Amy Black (nee Whipp) 1897-1980
Sydney John Whipp 1912-2001
Florence Ivy Blunden (nee Whipp) 1906-1994



Brian John Whipp January 2020

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