Nelmes Manor and the Phipps Family

Various earlier posts noted that the John Phips who arrived in Jamestown, Virginia as a surveyor in 1621 appears to have come from Hornechurch (Hornchurch), Essex, England. There, he appears to have been born in 1602, a son of Alexander Phipps and his wife Agnes Bright.

Hornchurch is today an East London suburb, a part of the London borough of Havering. It is today considered a part of Greater London.

Godfrey Webster lived at Nelmes in the parish of Hornechurch in Essex. He was was a knight citizen and clothworker who left a will, dated 12 January 1719/20.

In that will, he refers to “all my manor Nelmes, etc.,” and land located at Nokehill in the parish of Rumford. He also mentions several other properties in Woolwich, Kent and in London, including the Great James Tavern in Bishopsgate Street.

Godfrey Webster also refers in his will to his sister Anne, wife of Samuel Phipps of Chesterfield in county Derby, who was a shoemaker. This would be Chesterfield in Derbyshire, located in the East Midlands. Derbyshire is adjacent to Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, and Cheshire.

The will, again, is dated 1719/20. The History of Parliament website refers to Sir Thomas Webster. He was baptized in 1676, and is referred to as a son of Sir Godfrey Webster, a London merchant. There, Sir Godfrey is described as of Fenchurch Street in London and Nelmes in Havering, the same location referred to in the will.

Without conducting further research at this point, presumably this Sir Godfrey Webster is the same person who was the father of Anne Webster who married Samuel Phipps of Chesterfield. Sir Thomas Webster is specifically mentioned in the will of Godfrey Webster.

At one point, Sir Godfrey Webster loaned money to King William III. So what was the connection to a shoemaker in Derbyshire, and is there more to the story than that he was just a lowly shoemaker?

We’ve mentioned Lincoln’s Inn in the past, important since so many family members were barristers. Lincoln’s Inn was and is a society of lawyers. Lincoln’s Inn records refer a bit later (28 July 1773) to Samuel Phipps as a barrister of the Lincoln’s Inn society.

The very next record refers to Godfrey Webster, Jr. While what this means isn’t clear, it suggests that the Samuel who married Anne may have been about something other than just shoemaking.

The book titled A Life of John Taylor (1910, p. 135) refers to Sir Godfrey Webster, “citizen and cloth worker of London,” later of Nelmes. There it is said that he was apprenticed in 1663 “as the son of Godfrey Webster of Chesterfield, yeoman.” This places the family in the same Chesterfield as was associated with Samuel Phipps, who married Godfrey’s daughter Anne Webster.

That book goes further and has Godfrey calling Chesterfield the “place where I was born.”

Note the references to Webster being a clothworker. The National Archives has the will of John Phipps, described as a London clothworker. That will is dated 3 December 1670.

The Sheffield City Archives has a deed from Isaac and Mary Leatham of county York to Samuel Phipps of Lincoln’s Inn, county Middlesex, dated 1782. The National Archives at Kew houses the will of Samuel Phipps, described as a shoemaker of Chesterfield in county Derbyshire. The will is dated 14 November 1723.

What about Nelmes? British History Online, under “Hornchurch: Manors,” discusses this estate. This is identified as being about a mile northeast of the village of Hornchurch. That page also discusses the Webster connection to Nelmes manor. The great 19th century photographer Francis Frith photographed a view on the estate in 1909.

What was the exact relationship among these people? And what did this have to do with the John Phips who boldly sailed to Jamestown, Virginia in 1621? And was this John the progenitor of the Phips and Phipps and Fips families who then appear to have emanated out from Jamestown into Surry County and from there into Albemarle Parish of Sussex County and from there into several other locations in Virginia and in North Carolina? Or were there other relatives – perhaps even siblings – who added to the mix?


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