Ernest: A Foster Child

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When my great-grandfather Ernest was born, his mother was just 17 years old. She was not married, and we don’t know who his father was.

Ernest grew up in the household of a baker and his wife: James and Fanny Edwards, in the seaside town of Brighton, England. When Ernest was 20 years old, he married Cecilia Elizabeth Leeney at the register office there, and they moved to London, where Ernest got a job with the London Electricity Board.

Ernest and Cecilia had six children. My dad knew all of them (Uncle Ernie, Uncle George, Auntie Kit, etc.) except for the eldest girl, Ivy Blanche Stanbridge. She was raised by her grandmother & step-grandfather in a part of London that was a few miles away from the rest of the family.

She may have lived with them because their house was near a good school for girls. Ernest and three of his sons (Ernie, George and Albert) worked for the London Electricity Board. They all lived in Hammersmith.

Cecilia died in 1932, and Ernest passed away two years later, in September 1934.

Ernest’s mother was Charlotte Stanbridge (1858-1922).

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Ernest Albert Stanbridge (1876-1934)

 

Albert: Two World Wars

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His name was Albert, but everyone called him “Bill.” He was born three weeks after the turn of the century (17th January 1900), in London England.

Albert was 14 years old when the First World War broke out, and when he turned 18 he joined the Royal Flying Corps, working as a mechanic. After the war he married a young woman from Essex named Winifred Doris May Warren.

They lived in a neighbourhood called Shepherd’s Bush in the borough of Hammersmith in London, England. Albert and his wife had two children: Joyce and William Edward (my dad!)

Albert worked as a motor driver for the London Electricity Board, where his dad and a couple of his brothers were also employed. During World War II, he served as a mechanic in the Royal Air Force, stationed at High Wycombe.

After the war Albert returned to his position with the Electricity Board. He died in Hammersmith on January 13th, 1961.

Albert’s dad was Ernest Albert Stanbridge (1876-1934).

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Albert Smith Stanbridge (1900-1961)

The Last Word

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Phyllis Knight around 1925

Phyllis Knight and Jean Royce continued to live in the small house at 140 Stuart Street until Jean’s death in 1982. Phyllis moved to a nursing home and died there eighteen months later. She was 94 years old.


Today, a popular Queen’s mascot stands in the medical library on campus. It’s a small bronze ape in a pose similar to that of Rodin’s The Thinker.

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Photo of “Hugo” by Jo Stanbridge

The ape’s name is “Hugo,” and he originally belonged to Archie Knight. Phyllis gave him to the library around the time the Knight family home was demolished. The theme of the statue is Darwin’s Origin of Species. Archie recalled reading that book in his early days as a theology student at Queen’s, and arguing passionately with his roommate:

“when that subject was broached there could be nothing expected but bad temper and red hot discussion. The conclusions…upset all our previous religious training and left us almost hopelessly stranded. I should never like to pass through those days a second time.” [1]

Archie’s roommate, Malcolm MacGillivray, went on to become a prominent clergyman in Kingston, and moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

Archie gave up his theological studies and became a professor of professor of animal biology and physiology. He boldly argued in favour of Darwin’s work, and wrote an essay that was “the first full-blown exposition of doctrinaire Darwinian evolution in the Queen’s records.” [2]

On the main floor of Bracken Library, just down the street from the spot where the Knight family home stood, Hugo is now bolted to his pedestal. (Library staff discovered that he had been spending too many nights out on the town with students.)  He still dresses up for various holidays, and his head is shiny from being “rubbed for luck.” Thanks to Phyllis Knight, he stands both as a reminder of big ideas that shaped the university, and of the wit, intelligence and generosity that were her father’s legacy.


Many thanks to Queen’s University librarian Elizabeth MacDonald-Pratt for drawing my attention to the “Hugo” statue and generously sharing her research about him.

Learn more:

“Hugo Rheinhold and his Philosophizing Monkey,” by Axel Schmetzke [webpage] University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point website (https://library.uwsp.edu/aschmetz/Rheinhold’s_Monkey/Rheinhold’s_Monkey_Page.htm : accessed 20 February 2017).

“Hugo Rheinhold” [wiki article, 21 October 2016] Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Rheinhold : accessed 20 February 2017).


[1] Excerpt from 1933-09-02 Autobiography of Archibald Patterson KNIGHT b1849. Typescript by his son Cyril Workman Knight. Original typescript in the possession of Mary Elizabeth KNIGHT Clark, Cobourg, Ontario. Scanned by John Carew in June 2014. Copy in possession of Jo Stanbridge, Kingston, 2016.
[2] “A Gladiatorial Professor”, by B.N. Smallwood, H.M. Good and A.S. West, Kingston Whig-Standard, magazine section, Saturday 25 January 1992; excerpt from the book Queen’s Biology: An Academic History of Innocence Lost at Fame Gained, 1858-1965. Kingston : Queen’s University Press, 1992.

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This is the last entry in the Storydello series 52 Queen’s Crescent, about the Knight family in Kingston, Ontario. Thank you so much for following along!  Next up: Rogues and Royals, a 16-generation trip back through my Dad’s line of descent. Please stay tuned!

Time Marches On

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Stirling Hall now stands where Archie and Corrie raised their family. They watched Queen’s University grow up around them, and played a vital role in the university community–they lived, studied and worked on campus.

Archie held positions in the biology department, the medical faculty, and the school of mining. He helped to design and equip the “New Medical Building” that opened in 1907. Ironically, it is now the home of Queen’s University Archives.

When Phyllis’s house was torn down, she saved and organized Archie’s papers and donated them to the archives. His letters and notebooks are now preserved in the building he helped to design. These blog entries could not have been written without them.

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Phyllis Relents

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In 1961, when Phyllis said “no” to the property developer, the university principal stepped in. He negotiated the deal himself. He invited Phyllis for tea, and they discussed the matter quietly. Faced with the inevitable, Phyllis relented. Her home would be torn down.

Jean and Phyllis moved to a smaller house just two blocks away, at 140 Stuart Street. As in the old house, each had her own apartment, where they lived quite happily for fifteen more years.

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Phyllis’s House

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The house was two-and-a-half storeys tall, made of brick with wood floors, big closets, a dining room with a built-in china cabinet, and a fireplace. It was from this house that Phyllis’s siblings started their marriages and careers, and moved away. This was also the house where her niece (Muriel’s daughter) came in 1903 as a toddler, grew up and married, and emigrated to England. And it was in this house that both of Phyllis’s parents had grown old and died in 1935 and 1936.

Phyllis continued to live in the house for many years afterward, making her living as a music teacher, giving lessons and even holding recitals in the living room. To boost her income, she converted the second floor into apartments, and rented one of these to the famous university registrar, Jean Isobel Royce. The two women became fast friends.

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Phyllis’s Fight

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A controversy erupted at Queen’s University in 1961, twenty-six years after the death of Archibald Patterson Knight.

As a scientist, Professor Emeritus, and former member of the university’s Board of Trustees, AP might have been in favour of the plan for a new physics building on the Queen’s University campus. But the Board had chosen a site that would destroy the last large green space on campus. Students and faculty protested, demonstrations were held, and the Board was forced to change its decision.

An alternative site was chosen on Queen’s Crescent, where most of the property owners had agreed to sell. Just one person held out. It was Archie and Cordelia’s daughter, Phyllis Knight, who had lived at 52 Queen’s Crescent for nearly 70 years.

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