Phelps, CharlesBack to performers
Sarah Phelps of 7, Council Houses, Avening sang The Broomfield Hill, The Diamond Token, The Fox, The Outlandish Knight, There Was an Old Woman and The Unquiet Grave to James Madison Carpenter between 1927 and 1935. Carpenter noted that her mother used to sing to the children.
Charlie Phelps, Sarah’s husband, also sang John Barleycorn to James Madison Carpenter.
The Phelps family lived in the village of Bisley for many generations. One family tree on Ancestry.com traces them there back to 1500, with ten generations of Charles Phelps’ family having been born there. Many of these ancestors would have worked in the woollen industry but the arrival of mill machinery in 1838 brought an abrupt end to the cottage weaving industry in Bisley. In 1837 the Rector of Bisley wrote that ‘In consequence of the failure of work since the autumn of last year, the resources of very many families are entirely exhausted, and almost all are suffering extreme Privations …and though benevolent persons have rendered some aid, still it is certain and can be proved, if required, that many pass whole days without food.’ Charles’ great-grandfather, Richard Phelps, who had been born in Bisley moved to Rodmarton and was living there in 1841 next door to his son, William, Charles’ grandfather, and his family, both working as agricultural labourers.
Charles’ father, Thomas Phelps, was baptised on 18 February 1820 in Rodmarton, the eldest of probably seven children. In 1843 he married Mary Luker, who was born in Cherington, in the Tetbury registration district which included Avening. By 1851 they were living in Nagshead, Avening with Thomas’ brother, Henry, and two children, William born 1847 and Jane born 1849. Thomas and Henry were both working as agricultural labourers. By 1861 they were still living in Nagshead, Avening where Thomas was working as an agricultural labourer. Henry was no longer living with them but they had four more children, Hannah born 1853, another William born 1855 (presumably the first William had died), Joseph born 1858 and Harriet born 1860, all born in Avening. Thomas and his daughter, Elizabeth, were both working as agricultural labourers. Charles Phelps was baptised in Avening on 3 January 1864, apparently the youngest son of Thomas and Mary Phelps. In 1871 he was living at home in Nagshead, Avening. His father and two brothers, William and Joseph, were working as agricultural labourers. His two eldest sisters, Jane and Hannah were both working in a silk factory and his other sister, Harriet, was a scholar, as was he. By 1881 Charles was still living at home at Nagshead, Avening, and had started working as an agricultural labourer as were his father, mother, brother, William, and sister, Harriet. His other sibling still living at home, Jane, was working as a mill hand. In 1886 Charles married Sarah Ockwell from Cherington, his mother’s birthplace.
Sarah Ockwell was the daughter of Alfred and Harriet Ockwell, agricultural labourers, one of at least ten children. She was born in Cherington in 1866 and in 1881 was living at home working as a cloth cutter. Charles’ father, Thomas Phelps, died in 1888 and by 1891 Charles and Sarah Phelps were living in Cherington village, where Charles was working as a farm labourer, with three children, Elsie born 1887, Fred born abut 1889 and Lucy born 1890. In 1901 Charles and Sarah were still living in Cherington and had another three children, all born in Cherington, Arthur born 1893, Norah born 1896 and Beatrice born 1899. By 1911 Charles and his family were still in Cherington where he was working as a shepherd. They then had four more children, Linda born 1901, Bertram born 1904, Norman born 1906 and Harry born 1908. Living next door to them was Sarah’s brother, Ralph Ockwell aged 32, and his family, a horse/keeper on a farm. Charles Phelps died in March 1941 in the Cirencester registration district.
Charles’ son Bertram married and had 3 daughters, according to a family tree on Ancestry.com.
Bertram’s wife was Cecilia May Chipp, 1915 – 1994, and his daughters were Brenda E. Phelps born 1943 and Nina D. Phelps born 1948.
Charlie’s daughter Linda Phelps married Charles Hawkins and had a daughter and a son, Charles Frederick M. Hawkins 1926 – 1987. The daughter married and had 2 daughters and a son. Both of these daughters married and one had a daughter and a son, the other had 2 daughters.
Notes by Carol Davies May 2015