Monday, February 1, 2010

My GG Grandfather's Immigration (And The Woman who Followed her Recreant Husband across an Ocean)

This is the story of my ancestor's immigration and the interesting woman who shared the voyage with him.

My great great grandfather was William Watson SUCKLING. He was born 28 Apr 1860 in Terrington St. Clement, Norfolk, England. He was the 8th child of John Elvey SUCKLING and Caroline RICE.

The family bible tells us more about his life:

William Watson Suckling Born in the year of 1860. Came to Canada by New York in Jan 4 Per White Star line Married & settled in St.Catherines Was choir leader of Congregational Church on Church St. Sang in almost every choir & concert Co of the city at the time Moving to Merritton in 1901

The 1911 Canada Census tells me that he immigrated in the year 1888.

I found William on the passenger list for the ship "Adriatic" that left England on 4 Jan 1888 and arrived in New York on 16 Jan 1888. He stayed in the second class cabin.
#253 W W Suckling - 27 - M - Baker - England

I decided to search newspapers in order to find out if there was any information about the arrival of this ship in New York in 1888. I searched the Google News Archive and found an very interesting article about a woman who shared the voyage with my ancestor.

New York Times, January 16, 1888
An exciting and peculiar flight and pursuit ended yesterday afternoon on the Red Star steamship pier in Jersey City. Mrs. Margaret Cospatrick Phillips, after following her recreant husband, John, across the Atlantic, captured him as he was leaving the ship and gave him such a talking to as would delight any despiser of men who desert their wives. And that wasn't the end. She roused him to such a pitch of fury that he spoke very warm words, and she struck him on the back of the neck. This proceeding was followed by the arrest of both, who were taken to the police station on a charge of disorderly conduct. Mr. Phillips was held for trial and Mrs. Phillips, as a witness, was allowed to go to a private house in charge of one of the residents of Jersey City, who became interested in her case.

Mr. and Mrs. Phillips lived in London at 2 Charles-street, Blackfriars. He was employed as a messenger in the banking house of Blake, Rossevain & Co., a branch of Blake Brothers of 18 Wall-street, this city. His salary was nearly (pounds)3 a week, and they took lodgers to enable them to pay the rent of their house. They had been married four years, and had two little children. Mrs. Phillips, who is an exceedingly attractive little woman, 24 years old, dressed in good taste, says her husband, who is three years older, never treated her as he should, and deceived her before marriage by pretending that he had money, which afterward proved a myth. On the Saturday after Christmas she found that he had secured passage on the Red Star steamship Switzerland, which had sailed from Antwerp on the previous day. She bundled her two children off to her mother's and went to the firm for whom her husband had worked, and told her story of wrongs. The firm secured passage for her on the White Star steamship Adriatic, which sailed from Liverpool on Jan. 4. The Adriatic was spoken off Fire Island about 4:30 on Saturday afternoon, and came up to her pier about 10 o'clock yesterday morning. The Switzerland arrived yesterday morning and was at her pier about 3:30 o'clock. Her steerage passengers were not taken off.

Attended by two detectives from Castle Garden, the wife confronted the amazed husband at theh Red Star Line pier. The scene was not affecting. Phillips glared at his wife, and she glared back at him, with the addition of words not at all complimentary. Husband and wife with the two detectives started back toward the steamer, grew excited and had a short battle of words, which was followed by Mrs. Phillips stepping behind her husband and striking him. This was all the excuse the detectived wanted for making the arrest.

A look back at the passenger lists, finds Mrs. Phillips in first class.
191 - Margt C. Phillips - 24 - spinster - USA

I love how she identifies herself as a spinster just days after her husband left her and before she confronts him. And was she really from the United States originally? Maybe her husband had first worked in the New York bank offices before going to London.

I wonder if my ancestor had any idea about the this woman who sailed across the Atlantic with him. Did they ever meet or talk? Or was he too worried about his own journey and new life to deal with this lady's problems?

It is amazing what we can find about our ancestor's lives without finding their names listed in the records.

1 comment:

  1. What a great story! Even though this does not directly affect your own family history, this sort of record certainly adds colour and interest to your ancestor's own story.