Thomas: An Unwed Father


On the 6th of February 1780, a young woman named Jane Weston had her baby baptised in the village church in West Hoathly, Sussex, England. At that time, she was a single mother, but about a month later, she married the baby’s father in the same church.

We’re descended from that baby, who was named after his father: Thomas Stanbridge (1780-1855).

In 1782, Thomas (the father) inherited some money and his own father’s position as a yeoman near West Hoathly. A few months later, he and Jane had another baby and called him Walter. Walter was named for his grandfather, who had recently passed away.

Thomas (the father) died at the age of 53 on the 16th August 1811 and was buried at All Saints Church in Lindfield, Sussex, leaving his wife comfortably well-off.

Thirty years later, she was still supporting herself (“of independent means”) while living with her son Walter and his wife and their seven children. She died five years later, at the age of 85.

Thomas’s father was Walter Stanbridge (1732-1782).


Thomas: In the Workhouse


Thomas was born in the village of West Hoathly, Sussex, England, about a month before his parents got married.

When he grew up, he married a young woman named Elizabeth Jeffery. This picture shows a very well-dressed young couple, but Thomas and Elizabeth were never this well-off. They had a hard life, especially after they moved from the countryside to the larger town of Lewes, Sussex.

They had three daughters and four sons. We descended from the second youngest child, John Stanbridge (1819-1891).

Thomas tried to support his large family by working as a labourer at various jobs. We know he worked in a brewery in 1838, and later on staff at the Union Workhouse in Eastbourne, Sussex. The workhouse was where homeless, disabled and unemployed people lived.

It seems that Thomas was employed there for about 14 years, until his death in 1855 at the age of 76.

Thomas’s father was Thomas Stanbridge (1757-1811).




John: The Bonfire Boy


When John was about 25 years old, he married Frances Leppard in Lewes, Sussex, England. Soon after the wedding, she got sick and died. John ran away to sea and served aboard a Navy ship called the Penelope. Just 4 months later, he was discharged due to illness. I told this story in a small book: John Stanbridge Goes to Sea.

John went home to Lewes, but he and his brother were trouble-makers, and they soon found themselves in prison. One Guy Fawkes night, along with several others, they started a riot. They set tar barrels on fire and rolled them down the High Street, causing trouble and scaring a lot of people.

This incident is still remembered in Lewes, where the “Bonfire Boys” still run riot every November 5th. I had fun telling this story in four small books about John Stanbridge and the Bonfire Boys.

When John got out of jail, he married Mary Ann Hillman. She was 13 years younger than he was. They had five boys and eight girls. We’re descended from a middle child, Charlotte, who was born on Nov. 5th 1858 (Bonfire night!)

John worked as a butcher in Lewes, where he seems to have spent his spare time fooling around, hanging out in pubs, and getting into fights. He died of bronchitis and stomach trouble in December 1891.

John’s father was Thomas Stanbridge (1780-c1855).

Sussex Advertiser-29 February 1848-pp 6-7.png

Sussex Advertiser, 29 February 1848, page 6.


Charlotte: Teenaged Mother


Charlotte was born on Bonfire Night, 5 November 1858, in Lewes, Sussex, England.

She was not raised by her parents, but by her mother’s sister, Elizabeth Hillman, who was married to a greengrocer named William Smith. By the time Charlotte was two years old, she was living with the Smiths, first in Lewes and later about 8 miles away in the seaside town of Brighton. When Charlotte was 17, and working as a domestic servant, her son Ernest Albert Stanbridge (my great-grandfather) was born.

No father is listed on the birth registration, and the baby was raised by a couple called James and Fanny Edwards. James was a baker in Brighton.

It seems that Charlotte moved away from Brighton after Ernest was born. We don’t yet know where she went, but about 20 years later she married a lawyer’s son named Frederick Partridge Smerdon and went to live in Sible Hedingham in Essex, England.

She and her husband ran a pub called the Bell Inn, and had at least two sons. Sadly, her husband died around 1908.

Charlotte lived as a widow for a long time, and died in January 1922 at the age of 62.

Charlotte’s father was John Stanbridge (1819-1891).


Ernest: A Foster Child


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).

Ernest Albert STANBRIDGE b1876

Ernest Albert Stanbridge (1876-1934)


Albert: Two World Wars


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).


Albert Smith Stanbridge (1900-1961)

The Last Word


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.


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 (’s_Monkey/Rheinhold’s_Monkey_Page.htm : accessed 20 February 2017).

“Hugo Rheinhold” [wiki article, 21 October 2016] Wikipedia ( : 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.


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!