William PHELPS 1836 - 1911
Ninth child, third son of Joseph PHELPS (1791–1876) and Elizabeth DICKINSON (1795–1876)
Born 23rd January 1836, Funchal, Madeira
Died 24th December 1911, Droxford, Hants
Married 2 June 1870, Catherine Anne GLASSE (1843–1908)
William and Catherine had one stillborn daughter.
William's childhood was dominated by ill health. He suffered from a chronic form of tuberculosis affecting the discs of his lumbar spine. The infection then tracks down the psoas muscle producing a lump known as a psoas abscess. He attended his uncles’ (Dr Arthur Benoni Evans) school in Market Bosworth but would frequently need to return home, where various tutors were found for him.
With no turn for scholarship, and poor eyesight as well, he enjoyed the time in Madeira attending balls and shooting, often bringing home blackbirds for the pot. His health would fluctuate and was generally improved in a warmer climate.
William became engaged to a lady in Madeira who died before they were married, after which he was sent to join his brother Charlie (Charles PHELPS 1833 – 1908) in Australia. He ran into debt and generally behaved rather irresponsibly and returned to England with Charlie in 1862, where his parents hoped he would be accepted for a military career, the only career which appealed to him.
Quote from Victorian Hangover (by Frances Ann Roper, born Hubbard):
"At that time the sight test consisted merely of describing the view from the window of the examiner’s room. Willy knew that this test would be far beyond his capacity and that he would certainly be rejected on that score. He therefore arranged with a friend entering at the same time, that the friend should go to the examiner ahead of him, and retail to him the necessary features of the view. When Willy’s turn came, he described the view, which to him was no more than a blur, with quite remarkable accuracy, and passed triumphantly into the Army."
William was eventually gazetted to the 2nd West India Regiment and appears to have served in the West Indies for a time, but later sold out. He married Catherine Anne GLASSE in 1870 and they had one stillborn daughter. For some time he and his wife cared for the children of his brother Arthur, while Arthur and his wife were in India. In 1891 they had his sister Harriet's son Godfrey visiting them. Letters written by his sister Jane in the 1890s, suggest he was a neglectful husband, lavishing his time and money on the daughters of his brother Joe.
He died at Droxford, Hants, aged 75.