Uncle Sam – Samuel Philip Williams (1897-1934)

One relative whom Dad knew only in childhood was his Uncle Sam, son of his grandmother Ellen.

Samuel Philip Williams was born by December 1897, and his father William, a Calvinist Methodist minister at Waunfawr, Caernarfonshire (more on this elsewere), died in March 1898. Samuel moved from Waunfawr with his mother Ellen and brother Rowland, being recorded at Constantine Terrace, Llanbellig, a part of Caernarfon, in April 1901. All were recorded as speaking Welsh only.

At some time after April 1901, Samuel was put into a children’s home in Caernarfonshire. National School Admission Records suggest, for the date 2 January 1904, that Samuel Philip was then living in The Orphanage, and attending a school run by the Caernarvon Board. This record has his date of birth as 29 September 1897 and, if this was he, he may have been placed there once he reached school age, which would be in September 1902.

Ellen (and perhaps Rowland alone) moved to Bryntirion Grange, a house near Knolton, in detached Flintshire. She married Edwin Sadler, of Knolton, in January 1905.

What happened to Samuel between then and his marriage to Ethel Bailey in January 1921 in Birkenhead, has been a mystery. He had reached the age of 18 by December 1915, and would then be eligible for call-up; conscription was introduced in 1916. But a preliminary search at the National Archives does not suggest any records of war service, whereas there are records of Dad’s grandfather Horace and Uncle Leslie.

It now seems that the person instrumental in moving him to Wallasey was his sister Hannah, who had moved there, presumably, in 1898. This move seems to have been made after her marriage to Horace Jepson Boughey late in 1916. At that time they set up home together, and, it seems, she sought out Samuel and secured accommodation for him in Wallasey. She also found a job for him working for a shoe repairer in Victoria Road, Wallasey. Given that his brother Rowland was a cobbler, and Samuel himself was described as a “bootmaker”, it seems likely that he already had the relevant skills.

Samuel died of tuberculosis in March 1934, aged 36. He and Ethel had two children – Desmond Philip (1921-2005) and Glyn Philip (1930-2008).

Dad’s only expressed memory – I never pressed him about this – was that he went for Christmas dinner at Knolton, and Uncle Sam ate the whole dinner, but brought up the lot. This must have been disconcerting but Dad said no one minded at all – they were just glad that he had enjoyed Christmas.

Presumably this was Christmas 1933, or possibly earlier – there were digestive problems with that side of the Williams family. I wish that I – or someone – had asked him more about any memories of uncle Sam, or for that matter Sam’s brother Rowland. It’s all too late now – we are reliant on family history sources.

June 25 2015 amended Oct 26 2016

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