One thing that struck me when he died was the brevity of the family announcement in the Morning Post, 'At his residence, 5 Grove End Road, William Charles Phillips aged 42.' That's it. No loving husband of.... of or only son of..... which definitely
strikes me as somewhat odd. It seems like Kate felt constrained in what she could say in public, I would say that this was probably because of their marital situation.
With this in mind, I found some fascinating research about 'living in sin' in a book
entitled 'Co-habiting in Victorian England,' which states that one of the primary reasons for co-habitation amongst the middle classes in England was due to the death of a first spouse when a relative (usually the wife's sister) came to look after the widower
and/or any children of the marriage. This seems to have been the case with Kate - I can find no mention of her appearing on the stage anytime after December 1880 when she was part of a Wilson Barrett touring company with Rachel Da Solla and Walter Speakman.
The relationship between Kate and William obviously grew and she was calling herself Mrs. Phillips by 1884 when Geoffrey was born.
There is another reason they did not marry: they could not. Relationships between an uncle and his wife's niece
were declared incestuous until the Marriage Act of 1931 therefore, if William and Kate had gone through a marriage ceremony, they would have risked prosecution. Kate simply could not commit herself to being named as William's widow in his obituary. This amazed
me because through everything I've found out, it's clear that William and Kate's committment to one another must have been very strong.
At the moment, I also have no idea what he died of despite looking through newspapers for mention of his death and
mentions in records or burial inscriptions so the only thing that will really answer that question is to obtain his death certificate which I am going to do.
Geoffrey's birth in 1884 seems like an antidote to all the deaths in the Phillips, Hooper
and Bullen families in that decade. Before William's death in 1887, his father, William Augustus had passed away in 1884 at his daughter Sarah Jane's house in Bayswater. Her husband, Frederick Neale, who was by now a partner in the business and William Charles
were named as executors and he left personal assets of over £9,000.
In 1886, Hannah Hooper died, after a comparitively brief marriage of six years to William Harcourt Hooper. There were no children but there was a will as the Married Womens Property
Act of 1880 said it was now possible for a married woman to leave a separate will from her husband as a woman's posessions and money no longer became totally those of her husband on marriage. She left £1,465 and her husband was named as sole executor.
She was buried in St. Pancras Cemetery.
When William Phillips died just over a year later, it meant that he lost his wife and one of his closest friends in just over a year. There is a collection of Hooper's papers held by the University of Iowa, in
which there is a letter describing the day of William Phillips' funeral, It is extremely poignant,
"The day seemed very suitable, for if it had been bright and cheerful it would have jarred upon me".
Once again, William H. Hooper
was the eecutor of a will but this one was not so straight forward. It did not come to probate until more than a year after Wiliam Phillips died. The main reason for what appears to be a relatively straightforward will to take so long to prove - because it
has been contested. He left over £17,000 - part of this will have been his inheritance from his wife as well as his own assets but it appears that someone was not happy with the legacy he left. The outcome however meant that Kate Bullen Phillips was
able to live at Grove End Road with Geoffrey for the remainder of her life and her son had a comfortable inheritance after her death.
This came much sooner than I for one, could ever have expected. In September 1890, her obituary appeared in The Era,
'Mrs, W. C. Phillips, professionally known as Miss Kate Hastings, formerly leading lady in Mr. Wilson Barrett's Jane Shore, Old Love and The New and Proof companies, died at her residence, 5 Grove End Road on the 5th and was interred at Highgate Cemetery on
Wednesday last. She retired from the stage some years since.'
My immediate concern was for poor little Geoffrey; not even seven years old and he had lost both his parents within less than three years. This must have been dreadful for him but there was
someone who once again showed the most tremendous loyalty to his friend's family. Not only did he act as executor for Kate's will - she left in the region of £1,000 - he took her son under his wing to live with him at 5 Hammersmith Terrace; an incredibly
touching footnote to this part of the story came when I looked a little more closely at Geoffrey's move to Hammesmith. While at Grove End Road there were two young servants named Rosina Warren and Annie Matilda Farringdon. They were first mentioned in 1881,
appearing in the census. In the next census, they had moved to Hammermith along with Geoffrey. This mut have been a great consolation to the little boy who had lost so much so quickly. Rosina and Annie then stayed with William Harcourt Hooper until his death
in 1912, caring for him through his final illness.
So what happened to Geoffrey? For over a year now, he's been a bit of a mystery even by my family's standards but I feel I'm starting to unravel a few things about his life. Brought up in a beautiful
house in St. John's Wood, he would have had a fairly privileged early life. Rosina and Annie most probably helped care for him from birth and he will have had all the advantages that being the son of wealthy parents could bring. One of these, I was astonished
to find was having his portrait painted by a member of the Royal Academy! In 1887, E. J. Gregory A.R.A. exhibited at the exhibition of the Institute of Painters in Oils and this comment appeared in The Liverpool Mercury for 1st December, 'E.J. Gregory has
a portrait of Master Phillips, a red haired child in dark red robes, which beside being bright and strong of tint is powerful in effect. Childhood is admirably rendered.' I was instantly alerted - could this be my Master Phillips? I then found this in The
Pall Mall Gazette, ' Mr. E.J. Gregory at his boldest and best in his excellent 'Portrait of 'Master Geoffrey Phillips,' - the life-size portrait of a fair, but not beautiful, three year old child dressed in a ruby coloured velvet cape and frock - an aggressive
looking youngster. it is a masterly canvas, painted with great breadth but with perfect rendering of texture.' This has to be him - Geoffrey was such an unusual name at that time - there is only one of that name in censuses and records for that period so it
cannot be anyone else. I was delighted to read this, not to mention highly amused by the journalist's description of my cousin. We Bullens tend to grow into our looks! My only regret so far is that, despite trawling through all the works by E.J. Gregory that
I can find, I cannot find this one. I did however, come across a wood engraving from around the same period entitled 'A Rehearsal,' which made me wonder. It depicts two people, the female sitting with a large fan and a man standing behind her. He apparently
has been listening to her recite or sing. I have a very strong feeling that this may be a depiction of Master Geoffrey Hastings' parents. I can't be sure but sometimes you have to trust your instincts not to mention the fact that a close friend of both the
painter and the artist was the most famous engraver on wood in England: William Harcourt Hooper.
A Reheasal by E.J. Gregory
1884 (Thanks to the University of Toronto)
Thereis little else to tell about this part of Geoffrey's life other than something he recalls himself but I'll save that for now. All I know about his childhood and adolescence is
that he spent it at 5 Hammersmith Terrace with Rosina, Annie and William, his step-father. In 1901, he is again in the Census but this time his occupation entry tells us that he is at school. As yet, I haven't been able to find his school but he was obviously
a boarder and I would imagine, received a good education paid for by his parents' legacy. Six years go by, still without any mention of him that I can find as a young man growing up, when 1907 yields a particularly rich crop of events! First of all Geoffrey
was married with an announcement in the edition for the 16th November: 'At Fulham on 12th, Geoffrey William, only son of the late William Phillips of St. John's Wood to Lottie, only daughter of Edward Storey of Stone.' A little more research was able to tell
me a bit more about the new bride.
Charlotte Storey was born in 1881 in Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. Her father was Edward Storey and her mother: Ellen Fincher. Ellen had been married before to John james Fincher, a grocer, in Kensington. They
were married in 1866 when Ellen was 21 burt he died just a few years later leaving Ellen a young widow. There is then a curious entry in the 1871 Census return that lists the only Ellen Fincher I can find of the right age that lists Ellen as a 'night attendant
in an asylum.' This was at the Hanwell Asylum just outside London which apparently had one of the more enlightened treatment regimes towards the mentally ill and it would appear that Ellen had taken on work in order to provide for herself and her child. In
1880, she is listed as marrying Edward Storey from St. Neots - eight years younger than she was and also working as an attendant in an asylum, Indeed they are both mentioned in the Buckingham Herald as being night attendants in the cases of two patients who
were suffering from epilepsy and died suddenly. By the time they were married, they were both working in the same asylum; indeed, it looks as if they may even have met there, which would certainly have provided an interesting answer for their children or grandchildren
when they asked how they got together!
The family consisted of Edward, Ellen and Ellen's daughter Elizabeth and then Charlotte or Lottie came along in 1881. Both parents seem to have belonged to a Wesleyan Church and according to reports in The
Buckingham Herald, Lottie soon began to display her singing talents in various church-based activities. In 1887 for example aged just six, she is singing in a concert given by the Weslyan Juvenile Missionary Association. The song she delivered was entitled,
'A Little Black.' According to the Bucks. Herald, the concert reviewed the work done 'by the juveniles that year.' There is no more mention that I can find of Lottie in the newspaper until a few years later when her singing is talked about again. In 1896,
she is noted as delivering a dialogue at that year's Sunday School entertainment and then in 1897, she sang 'In the Heart of London Town' at the Weslyan Church Harvest Festival. There is then another mention, but this time, Lottie, now aged 18, has stepped
outside the security of the church concert and has moved to the commercial theatre. In 1899, she received a very goood review for her singing in a play entitled 'Skipped by The Light of the Moon,' at the Imprial Theatre, Bordesley in Birmingham. Apparently,
the first night could not go on 'owing to the vagaries of the electric light,' but this was subsequently repaired and the company was well received. The final mention I can find of her singing with the Weslyan Church comes in 1901 when she sings a solo as
part of a concert given in aid of the Aylesbury Sick Visiting Society. The reason I have documented these appearances is to show how her career as a performer progressed but then something else happened. Lottie changed her name; by the time of her marriage
to Geoffrey in 1907, her registration in the marriage register is in two names: Charlotte Storey and Edna Knollys.
How did I know Lottie and Edna were the same person? First of all, the law states that if you marry and are known by two names then you
must state both of them upon marriage and Charlotte Storey and Edna Knollys both marry Geoffrey William Phillips on a mid-November day ion 1907. Prior to this, Lottie had begun to disapperar from newspaper reviews and accounts of her theatre work from around
1901. She had obviously decided that a career lay on the stage but not as Lottie Storey. Why did she change her name? Actresses changed their name for any number of reasons but I get the impression that Lottie had been a strong member of the Weslyan Church
and religion and the theatre very often did not sit hand in hand. It probably felt better if her two personas did not mix so she became the more mature and sophisticated sounding. Edna Knollys. This appears to have happened in 1900 and the newly-named Edna
went on tour, appearing at The Theatre Royal Warrington in a production of The Ticket of Leave man as Sam Willoughby with a favourable notice, saying she performed 'very well.' Her notice a week later in The Era described her as being 'quite at home' in the
same role when the play moved to New Brighton. For a first venture on to the road, there were certainly some interesting members of the company Edna joined; not least the manager who was Sime Seruya who was born in 1876 in Portugal and came to England at around
1900. From a fairly wealthy background, she became a vocal and passionate suffragette. She went to Holloway Prison for her views, had letters smuggled out of prison that she had written on lavatory paper and founded the first and longest lasting Womens' Movement
bookshop in London. Such a dynamic character must have made some impression on the teenage Edna as she forged her stage career.
I know she was also in George Dance's company at some time between 1900 and 1907 and played in popular operettas up and down
the country such as: Kitty Grey, A Country Girl and Three Little Maids. An account of being in this company by another actress tells how hard a taskmaster he was and how hard it was to survive in such a gruelling environment, learning song upon song and travelling
to venue after venue. In 1907, she also appeared in pantomime: Mother Goose at the Crown Theatre, Peckham and with her in the cast was a certain William Phillips. I have no doubt that this must be our Geoffrey William Phillips, adapting his name slightly for
the stage. He must have decided to follow his mother's line of work rather than going into the art world or the auctioneering business. This is the only incidence I can find of them working together or indeed of Edna working on the stage after her marriage
in November of that year.
Their next appearance together is in the Census of 1911 which certainly brought up a few surprises. They have by now moved right out of London, to Herne Bay on the Kent Coast close to Geoffrey's place of birth. Edna has kept
her stage name but has combined it with her married name and is now Mrs. Edna Phillips. They have been married for 3 years; there are no children and Geoffrey describes himself, aged 26, as a retired actor! Their address is 'Lyndhurst, Canterbury Road, Herne
Bay, which is a rather swish 10 roomed villa and they have a 22 year old housemaid called Grace Olive Monk. Now this is what I call living the good life - retired at 26, a lovely house by the sea and someone to make my breakfast every day but somehow
I sense things were not quite as rosy as they seemed.
Is it the lack of children or maybe the lack of focus that underlies being retired at 26? I'm not sure but I do sense a lack of direction, however there are hints from newspapers and family documents
that suggest how their lives were going.
Their affluence is underlined by various details - for example, they are listed in the telephone directory for 1911 and 1912. In 1912, there were only 231 telephone exchanges throughout Britain with more than
500 subscribers each and there far fewer domestic than business subscribers. I suspect that in order for the young couple to live such a privileged lifestyle, Geoffrey must have come into his inheritance. His guardian, William Hooper had also passed away in
1912 so I would also suspect that a legacy had also come via this route. Geoffrey had also been elected to the Herne Bay Council and took an active part in community life. There is less mention of Edna, but there are a couple of short newspaper articles which
seem to link her to her old life: one is the death of an important member of the congregation of her old church at Stone. A floral tribute was sent to mark his passing by Mrs. G.W. Phillips - Herne Bay. In the same year Mrs. Phillips made a gift of 'periodicals'
to the Blean Asylum. Lottie Storey may have changed her name but she still existed somewhere under the glossy surface of Edna Phillips' new life in Herne Bay.
They were listed as living at Lyndhurst during 1911, 1912 and for part of 1913. In that year,
Geoffrey appears to have been particularly busy - in April he was elected Vice Chairman of the new Conservative Club and in May, he was best man at one of his his friend's weddings. This was John Adam Tytler Derham who was described as a good all round sportsman
and star player for the Herne Bay Rink Hockey Club. The account states that it was no surprise that Geoffrey was chosen to be best man as he was President of the club! Many of the guests wore their club badges as support for the groom and the wedding to Consuela
de Colegan, the daughter of a Spanish Marques, attracted a good deal of local interest. I had no idea that Geoffrey was such a sportsperson nor such a community stalwart. It would seem that having given up acting, he threw himself into hs new role as local
worthy wth gusto!
In 1913, there is a move to a new house, similar in style and stature but newer - Dorothea at Cecil Park. Their life seemed to continue just as before - there seemed to a lot of giving of prizes at angling competitions - but then in
1914 comes something quite momentous - a small announcement in the Whitstable and Herne Herald on 26th September. 'Councillor G. W. Phillips of Herne Bay has enlisted in Kitchener's Army.'
After that, both Edna and Geoffrey simply seem to gradually
fade from life in Herne Bay. They are listed as giving some prizes at yet another angling competition in 1917 and Geoffrey's name is still on the Council in 1918 but by 1920, their name is no longer in the Telephone Directory and in the 1922 Post Office Directory,
their listing has disappeared; so where did they go?
Explaining his disappearance to different people as I was researching his story, the majority of people said that Geoffrey must have been killed in the war and I tended to agree but can find no record
of him in any military records nor could I find any evidence of what happened to Edna.... but then came two huge surprises.
The first one concerned Edna. If Geoffrey had been killed in the war, what might she have done? For some reason, I kept
thinking that she may have gone abroad so idly looking through some passenger records, I found her name. At first, I thought that it couldn't be her but it was. She left Britain on 2nd August 1924 just over ninety one years ago now. She boarded the Empress
of France for Quebec arriving several weeks later.
According to records, she had been planning her trip for a year but
where had she been until then? I have absolutely no idea. Records tell us that she had applied to go on the trip in 1923. The departure form tells us that she paid for her own passage and took £50 wth her. It states that she was a housewife aged 37,
travelled second class and that her address in England was c/o Phillips, Son and Neale, Auctioneers of 73 New Bond Street.
To say that I was tken aback when I read this would be an understatement. Somehow I had never associated Edna with Geoffrey's
family as he had been an orphan for so long yet she must have known where his inheritance came from and from this one line which simply states the address, it becomes clear that she had a connection with them. The plot thickens when she arrives in Canada and
fills in the disembarkation form. By now, she is 43 - she obviously decided to tell her real age and says that she is not making Canada her country of permanent residence. At the point where she has to state whether or not she is married, a very obvious letter
Y is transformed into a W for widow. In the time it took The Empress of Canada to cross the Atlantic, Edna lost six years from her age and killed off her husband. She also gives a different address for her last address in London. Instead of 73 New Bond Street,
she gives 40 Herne Hill Road, SE24 and says that her aunt who lives there is her closest relatve in England.
A fair bit of research showed me that in 1898, Thomas Bland Storey, a long-standing member of the Buckinghamshire Police Force had died there.
This was Edna Phillips/Lottie Storey's grandfather. His eldest daughter, Charlotte Elizabeth, Lottie's father Edward's eldest sister. She had married a doctor, William Mulholland Turner and the couple had continued living at 40 Herne Hill Road and this was
where Lottie/Edna went to stay before leaving for Quebec.
Why then did Edna's story change so much when she landed in Canada?
Researching her, I have bcome convinced that she was not a dishonest woman. Anything but. She had been brought
up in the Weslyan Methodist Church as an active member. She had been a pillar of the community in Herne Bay so what happened? I can imagine that Edna felt she should tell the truth when confronted by a probably rather stern Immigration Officer in Canada. I
also think that the Y that became a W became even more significant after revealing her story to the said official. It all hinges on what happened to Geoffrey.
After joining Kitchener's Army, it is very difficult to locate him other than via the
mention of him at Herne bay in 1917. After that he seems to disappear completely. There is no trace of him in Rolls of Honour, Army Pension Records or Medal Lists and I believe it to be because he disappeared or 'went awol.' Who knows why? I can't tell but
I believe he left his home, possibly after being on leave one day and just didn't return.
I also discovered that when someone goes missing under UK law, their spouse or family can declare them dead after seven years and I believe that this is what happened
here. Edna was unsure which status to declare, explained that she had not seen her husband for seven years and was therefore declared a widow. I honestly believe that she thought he was dead or that he was at least dead to her and this is borne out by
something she was quoted as saying later. I think the Phillips/Neale family paid her passage to Canada so that she would relinquish any claim on Geoffrey's estate but that may not have been the case.
She also declared that she was going to stay with
a Mrs. L. Jocelyn of 12 Brant Road, Burlington, Ontario whom she named as a friend. More research revealed a family of that name living at that address. The son/husband, who had been Head of the Burlington Fire Service, Tom Jocelyn had died in 1921 of nephritis.
They had emigrated to Canada in 1915; maybe Edna, as a friend of the family from England, had gone to visit his widow.
And there we leave her. Or do we? I came across this footnote to her story appearing in the Gloucester Evening Telegraph of November
1938, almost 31 years to the day of her 31st Wedding Anniversary. Edna was 56.
'OPERA STAR SCRUBS FLOORS.'
Toronto. Ontario: Edna Knollys, an opera star of forty years ago, who used to have fashionable audiences at her feet, has
been working in kitchens and scrubbing floors to keep herself alive in her later years, it is revealed here.
The star of 'A Country Girl.' 'Kitty Grey,' and 'Three Little Maids,' in her day, Miss Knollys turned up at a hospital here to sing
to the patients.
After her husband's death she explained, she came to Canada 24 years ago hoping for a fresh start. But she has had to work with her hands ever since.
Admitting she was penniless, the former star philosophised:
'But I have my art. I have my talent. It is God's gift. I make the women in the ward laugh. I sing to them.' Reuters
That is the last thing I have been able to find about her.
I am more than convinced that Edna believed Geoffrey was
dead but he too, leaves this account of his life with a twist.
Again, looking through newspapers from the 1930s, I came across this,