Phip’s Cross Becomes Whipps Cross

Whipps Cross is a neighborhood found in Waltham Forest, which is a London borough. This is the area where Whipps Cross Road, Wood Street, and Lea Bridge Road (known as the A114, B160, and A104 today) join.

Records pertaining to this neighborhood go back to the late 14th century (1300s), when it was known as Phip’s Cross. This was apparently where the John Phyppe family set up a wayside cross, which was a sort of public monumental crucifix. The association with this obviously Catholic iconography, with some family members later showing up in records as decidedly Protestant, evinces the sort of extreme polarization which must have eventually rocked the family.

Because of the date (late 14th century) and the name (John Phyppe), one immediate question becomes whether this is the same John Phyppe, also Phippe, who is associated with a heraldic seal found in an Essex County record of 1376, with that John likely related to the John Phyppe of a 1466 deed, also in the county of Essex.

One must also wonder whether there could be some connection to the Johanne Phyppe who is mentioned in a Latin deed from the reign of Henry VI (1421-1471), apparently from Hampshire.

As far as Essex is concerned, this today is in the London commuter belt, and the only city there is Chelmsford. John Phips, the surveyor who came to Jamestown, Virginia in 1621, is supposed to have come there from Hornchurch (Hornechurch), which was then in Essex.

Today Hornchurch is in the London borough of Havering, in the ceremonial county of Greater London. Hornchurch is east (and slightly north) from London. The distance from Hornchurch to Big Ben, at Westminster Palace, is around 18 miles, depending on route, and would be about a 40-60 minute drive.

Whipps Cross is northeast of London, very roughly halfway between London and Hornchurch. The distance between Whipps Cross University Hospital (a local landmark) and Big Ben would be about 13 miles, and would be about a 35 minute drive.

Perhaps more significantly, Whipps Cross at one time was located in the county of Essex.

Whipps Cross, again, appears in records as Phip’s Cross in the late 14th century (1300s), then as Phyppys Crosse in 1517, as Fypps Chrosse in 1537, as Phippes Cross in 1572, and then as Whipps Cross by 1636.

Wikipedia, in discussing this, makes an interesting statement: The change from something that looks like “Phips” or “Phipps” to “Whipps” is attributed to local dialect. According to Wikipedia, the local Essex dialect of the time involved pronouncing “F” sounds like “W” sounds.

This, then, would suggest that at least some of the time in at least one part of the world, names that looked like “Phips” or “Phipps” were pronounced like “Whips” or “Whipps.” By extension, one has to wonder whether some “Phips” or “Phipps” records appear, then, as “Whips” or “Whipps” or something similar.

Since this is an Essex family, it would appear to have great potential relevance to the descendants of John Phips, the early Virginia surveyor.

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