The Phillips family

Thomas Phillips (1730-1797)

Thomas Phillips came to Tottenham in about 1746. He first lived in a house lying on the east side of Tottenham Green. When his father died he moved with the rest of his family onto Broadwater Farm. He farmed all the land up to the New River and over to where Seven Sisters Road now runs.

Thomas died aged 66. He was buried at Whitechapel.

Thomas’ sons, Michael (born 1759) and John (born 1761), bought Grainger’s Farm, part of what became Duckett’s Farm (off Lordship Lane). This they farmed while Michael lived on Broadwater Farm, which he rented, and John lived with his wife Elizabeth and their four children (John, Mary, Daniel and Rebecca) in a house on the High Road.

After leaving school, the younger John (born 1803) lived with his uncle Michael on Broadwater Farm.

Michael died in 1834 and young John continued to live there and run the farm.

John Phillips (1803-1894)

John Phillips married Mary Payne in 1838. They had four children (Mary Elizabeth, John, Alfred and Ellen).

Mary Elizabeth remembered:

“The farm offered numerous joyful occupations for children: swings and seesaws in the barn, a Shetland pony to ride, garden to work, but the attractions were at their height in hay time. These joys were shared by many others, the rides down to the hayfields in the empty carts being especially delightful to the young…

“JT’s wife was a total abstainer. In Tottenham it was the practice to brew and serve beer to the haymakers (totalling nearly 100 men) but she arranged for coffee, a change that was warmly welcomed.”

In 1861 they moved from the farm to a larger house on the High Road.

Mary Elizabeth Phillips (1840-1922)

Mary Elizabeth showed a great interest in social reform from childhood. She attended the Bible Society and Anti-Slavery Committee meetings with her mother. She was a member of the executive of the British Women’s Temperance Association and president of the Tottenham Branch for 22 years.

One of Mary’s chief aims in life was the abolition of public houses. For many years she attended local Brewster sessions and fearlessly opposed the applications for new licences. In 1894 a publican brought an action against her for “malicious persecution”. He lost the case!

The first coffee stall in Tottenham was begun by Mary. It was fixed on wheels. It was so successful that she took over a building for sale of non-intoxicating beverages in a building at the corner of Bruce Grove Railway station.

Mary also set up a public restaurant (the White Ribbon Restaurant) at Tottenham Hale for the benefit of workers of several large manufacturing establishments in the area.

Ellen Phillips

Ellen was born in 1846. In 1867 Ellen and her sister, Mary Elizabeth, opened a small house as a dispensary for women and children. It was so busy it became necessary to reserve treatment for children only. They moved to larger premises where arrangements were made to open a small hospital for children with twelve beds. This was the beginnings of what is now the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children. Ellen married Alexander Fox at Tottenham Meeting House in 1869. They moved to New Zealand soon after.