by Wayne Piotr Cronin-Wojdat
“In loving memory of Anne, the beloved wife of Arthur Phillips, Wrexham, late of Vron Cottage, who died 4th July 1885, aged 81 years…Also Edwin, son of the above who died at Cape Town, 8th Dec. 1868, aged 39 years…Also Arthur Phillips, father of the above and husband of Anne Phillips, who died 29th Oct. 1885, aged 79 years”
This gravestone indicates that some local Wrexham people were willing undertake long journeys and colonise faraway places, in this instance, Cape Town, South Africa. It is also the story of two baptisms and two gravestones!
The baptism record for Edwin is unusual: The baptism record for him at Church Stretton, Shropshire, states that Edwin was born on the 4th June 1829 and that he was baptised at Church Stretton on the 7th June 1830. It further states he was “said to have been baptised in Manchester.” It appears that Edwin underwent two baptisms.
The reason for this uncertain but may be linked to him becoming one year old at about the time of the Church Stretton baptism.
Edwin was married to Wilhelmina Maria Christina Bam and they are both buried together in the Woltemade cemetery, Maitland, Cape Town, South Africa. Their gravestone reads, “In loving memory of Edwin Phillips died 8th Dec 1868 in his 40th year…Also Wilhelmina Maria Christina Phillips, widow of the above, died 9th July 1912, in her 76th years.”
This gravestone is also a good example that not everything carved on a gravestone should be taken as completely accurate. The gravestone emphasises that the family were late of Vron Cottage, Brymbo. From this it is easy to form the assumption that this is where the family was living at the time of their death. In reality the family had not resided at Vron Cottage for about 11 years before their deaths. Arthur Phillips had held the responsible position of Cashier at Vron Colliery when Mr Maurice and Mr Low owned it. In 1874, the colliery became a limited company and Arthur moved to Wrexham. He was held in such high esteem that at that time he received two gold watches and a purse of gold. The family initially lived at 4, Grove Park, Wrexham. They subsequently moved and lived at 4, St James Terrace, Rhossdu, Wrexham until they died.
So why was the emphasis placed at the fact they previously lived at Vron Cottage? It is clear that Arthur held a position of responsibly and was held in high esteem whilst he was working as a cashier at Vron colliery. By 1881, when the family was residing at 4 Grove Park, Arthur had been paralysed and had a live-in nurse. Although the answer to this question can only be surmised it might be suggested that the reason is that the family wanted to emphasise the days they held a high status in the community rather than their later years.
Researched by Wayne Piotr Cronin-Wojdat. Photograph by Graham Lloyd.
Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery E-01309