Friends of Hastings Cemetery
Sarah and William were married in Hastings on 24th December 1838. Her father was John White, William’s father,[si Matthew.
By the 1851 census they were living at 11 John Street and had four sons and a daughter. It would appear that William was at sea, as he is not listed and under Sarah's occupation it says "Husband a fisherman"
The Fishermen's Museum has a record of 1861 of William, aged 48, on board the 'Nord Stern', owned by George and Elizabeth White. (There is an Elizabeth White buried at AT H28) Also listed as a boy, is Stephen Phillips, aged 16. Ten years later Stephen, aged 25 and single, is the Master. This tallies with William and Sarah's son, Stephen, aged 5 in the 1851 census.
Hastings and St Leonards Observer -
Supposed Death of a Hastings Fisherman. —Great uneasiness is felt amongst the friends of William [sic] Phillips, skipper of the Northstern,[sic] fishing lugger, who left Hastings about two months ago for the herring season, and who has been very successful in taking several large hauls. On Tuesday week last, the lugger put into Great Yarmouth harbour, and Phillips went ashore to get shaved.
As he did not return that night or the next day, the crew of the lugger became alarmed, and made inquiries, but nothing could be ascertained further than that he had been to the barber's and had been shaved, and that a man had seen someone whom he thought was Phillips at Pelham's Yard, which is some distance from the lugger. Since then the unfortunate man has not been seen, and his friends believe he is dead. A relative has gone in search, and a reward has been offered for the finding of the body. Phillips was a married man, and had a wife and two children. was in the prime of life, and must have known in Yarmouth, he having gone there since he was a boy. His friends think that he may have stumbled over the quay into the water and is drowned, and have caused the water to be dragged, but without success at present.
The HSLO article above says it was William who drowned. Not only does Stephen's age tally with the event, we know from the records quoted that at that time Stephen was the master. There was also a younger brother William, who may have been on board and this is likely the relative who searched.
There was no contemporary report in the Great Yarmouth press, and no follow up we could find in Great Yarmouth or Hastings press.
To THE MEMORY
Master Mariner of Hastings
Who unfortunately drowned
at Great Yarmouth
2nd November 1875
The rest of the inscription cannot be read but in the same grave are his parents, Sarah Phillips who died aged 51 on the 10th of October 1871 and his father, William Phillips, who died aged 66 on the 14th December 1879