THE PHILLIPS FAMILY OF BUSHBURY HILL
The story of this interesting family starts with the marriage by licence at Bushbury of Joseph Phillips, husbandman, aged 30, on May 23rd 1754 to Sarah Churchill of Marston Priors, Warwickshire. (There was a tradition that Joseph was related to Penelope Phillips of Newton Regis, Warwickshire, who married Henry Vernon of Hilton Park in 1717, but I have been unable to prove this.) We do not know where Joseph and Sarah lived - but four children, Richard, Harry, Elizabeth and Ann were baptised at Bushbury between 1755 and 1760. Harry and Elizabeth died in infancy, but the eldest son, Richard was living at Ashmore in Wednesfield (see picture of house in "The Blackcountry Bugle" No.202 Jan. 1989) when he married Mary Hancock at Beverley Minster by licence on January 14th 1782. She was the eldest daughter of the Reverend Randal Hancock, rector of the nearby parish of Wallington. The Hancocks came from Chesterton, north Staffs., but Randal's brother Escricke was also living in Beverley in the 1780's.
The Phillips' first four children, Elizabeth Churchill, Richard, Biddy and Escricke were all baptised at Wednesfield between 1781 and 1787, but the next child Sarah was baptised at Bushbury on March 20th 1788. This would indicate that they had moved into the parish within the previous year. Bushbury Hill Farm was demolished about 1948 but I am informed that there was a date on the interior woodwork from the 1780s, so it appears that the house was built for Richard Phillips. (Earlier occupiers of the site were Henry Pitt who moved to his new house at Moseley in the 1580s, and the Mansfield family earlier in the eighteenth century.)
Another son George, was baptised at Bushbury in 1794, but the eldest son Richard had died in 1791, aged 7. Richard senior was an important man in the parish, owning land at Essington as well as at Bushbury Hill. He was a churchwarden at Bushbury and died in 1833. In May 1836 his eldest surviving son, Escricke, married Elizabeth (Louise) Kenrick de Tessier at Epsom Parish church. (His brother George Phillips married Elizabeth's sister Mary Anne Nougier de Teissier). Her family, (originally from Nice and later) of French descent, were considerable land owners at Epsom, the racecourse there having been set out on their land. [Webmaster's note: the words in italics were added (in April 2007) from information provided by Cris Holmes, who has been tracing the family history.]
At the time of the 1841 census Escricke and his wife were living at Underhill Farm. He describes himself as a farmer, but his main interest seems to have been in bloodstock breeding. Following his mother's death in January 1843 he moved to Bushbury Hill, and by 1851 had proof of his ability in the racing world when his filly "Truth" won the Cambridgshire Stakes. ("Truth" was by "The Libel" out of "Miss Kitty Cockle", Escricke's brood mare and descendant of "The Cadlands", winner of the disputed 1828 Derby.) The stable known as "Bushbury Paddocks" could by no means be compared with the great racing stables of the aristocracy of that time, but Escricke seems to have been a good judge of horse flesh, with a successful, if somewhat unorthodox style of management. About 1852, for a few guineas, he bought "Sir Hercules", an aged champion, which was little more than a bag of bones when he arrived at Bushbury. With some judicious feeding and care the old horse went on to sire such successful horses as "Gunboat" in 1853, "Lifeboat" in 1854 and "Topsail" in 1855, all from "Yardarm". Another of his progeny was "Gemma di Vergy" which had the doubtful distinction of belonging to William Palmer, the Rugeley poisoner.
Escricke retired in July 1867, his entire stock being sold by auction, and he died on April 1st 1871. His wife died at 19 Alexandra Terrace, Bootle and was buried at Bushbury on February 13th 1873 aged 60. Escricke's brother George died aged 91 in November 1885, but there seems to be a curious error on his gravestone at the east end of the churchyard. His wife's death is recorded there as occurring on October 5th 1810 aged 29, whereas the Wolverhampton Chronicle of May 20th 1840 records her death at "Picton Villa", Leamington on the 15th of that month aged 29. The date on the grave is probably that of her birth.
Escricke's son Henry was born on March 11th 1842. He married Louise Catherine Sidney of Wobaston at Bushbury on September 24th 1874. Their son Escricke Sidney was born on October 21st 1876, but following several years of poor health Henry died at Torquay on December 2nd 1878 and was buried at Bushbury five days later.
At the end of the century the house and farm were in the possession of William Hordern Clifft (of the Fordhouse Mill family) who emigrated to New Zealand in 1913. He had married Mary Elizabeth Wiggin of Moseley Old Hall at Bushbury on 17th September 1885. (I am grateful to their grandson Mr. George Doole of Rotarva New Zealand for this information.)
The Jeavons family lived in the house until about 1930 when it became the local headquarters of the Toc H movement. A visit by Prince George on April 25th 1933 to meet ex-servicemen provided a photograph of the house which can be seen at Wolverhampton Archives.