Family Documents

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Portrait of Joseph Skipsey
by Robert Barras of Newcastle & South Shields (undated).

Reproduced by kind permission of Skipsey's great grandson,

Roger J. Skipsey.



FROM time to time I hear from the descendants of the poets and authors whose work is reproduced on this website.  Sometimes I receive mere notification, but on other occasions interesting documents emerge that serve to throw more light on the writer's life.  Such was the case with Gerald Massey, for whom I received family information and documents from the descendants of his brother Frederick; another was John James Bezer, whose Australian descendants emerged from the woodwork and were able to document what became of him following his "disappearance" in 1852.

    On this page I have reproduced the family documents kindly sent by Skipsey's great grandson, Roger J. Skipsey.


A copy of Joseph and Sarah Skipsey's Marriage Certificate. . . .


A note from the inside pages of Skipsey's bible describing the fate of
his children (reproduced in printed type lower down) . . . .

Ed.—the above document reads as follows:

Children of Joseph & Sarah Skipsey

Cuthbert Skipsey Jan. 12th. 1855

William Skipsey June 3rd. 1857. He was killed by a waggon on the Tyne Main waggon way near
     Gateshead, on the 7th. Sept. 1860.

Elizabeth Skipsey Jan 20th. 1860

Harriet Skipsey April 27th. 1862

James Clepham Skipsey Aug 3rd. 1865.  He died from a severe cold on Jan 16th. 1866

Emma Skipsey born 24th. Jan 1867.

On Oct 16th. 1868 died my son Cuthbert in his fourteenth year.  On the 24th. of the same month died my little Emma 1 year & 9 months old , and on the 30th. died our dear Harriet in her 7th. year, leaving us with our Elizabeth Ann Pringle only.

The children died from Scarletina.  Let me here say that three more lovely & affectionate children were never born into this world, whose loss has bowed their Parents heads down into the dust, and upon reflection it is my belief that the dear jewels were wrongly treated.

Joseph Skipsey
             March 8th. 1869.

Joseph Skipsey born Sept. 27th. 1869.

Cuthbert Skipsey born June 14th. 1872.



"Day and night, night and day without slumber,
    I watched till so weary and worn;
When Death took the gem of the number,
    I'd barely strength left me to mourn.

"I've mourn'd enough since.   And tho' cruel
    Mishap like a curs'd hag would find
Her way to my door still, the jewel
    Has seldom been out of my mind.

"Another so light and so airy
    Ne'er gladden'd a fond mother's sight—
I oft heard her called a wee fairy,
    And heard her so called with delight.

"Whilst others played, by me she tarried,
    —The cherub!—and rumour avers
That now-a-days many are married,
    With not half the sense that was hers."

Skipsey, from Bereaved.



Believed to be sons Cuthbert (1872-1938)
and Joseph (1869-1943).

An early portrait of Skipsey.

Cuthbert Skipsey was to become the Company Secretary of the first suppliers of electricity to Newcastle-upon-Tyne and later, as 'The North Eastern Electric Supply Co.', to areas further afield.  He died in September 1938.

Joseph Skipsey became a shipping accountant. He died at Romford in 1943.


Carte-de-Visite portrait of Joseph Skipsey.



Undated photograph of Skipsey's surviving daughter Elizabeth, later Mrs. Harrison.




A portrait of Skipsey's wife, Sarah Ann, taken during Skipsey's brief and eventually unhappy tenure as 'Custodian' of the Shakespeare Museum at Stratford-on-Avon, a post that he resigned in disgust in 1892.

Sarah's photographer was Douglas Jas Mc Neille, who according to the 1891 Census for Warwickshire, lived with his wife Susannah and family — 3 sons, 4 daughters and a servant —at 20 Church Street, Stratford-on-Avon.  Neille was then 38 years of age, Susannah 32, and the family hailed from the Margate area of Kent.  As for Skipsey, the Census describes him as "Custodian of Shakespeare's Birthplace" and records him living at No. 17 Henley Street with Sarah Ann and Lucy M. A. Preston, aged 17 years, a "general servant (domestic)."



The flyleaf from a copy of 'The Treasure of the Humble' by Maurice Maeterlink, was Skipsey`s own copy, full of underlined sentences and bracketed paragraphs.  His inscription quotes from 'Blight' by Ralph Waldo Emerson . . . .

           "Give me truths,
For I am weary of the surfaces,
And die of inanition."

. . . . . and on the reverse side Skipsey quotes from
Emerson's Celestial Love . . . .


"Nor less the eternal poles
 Of tendency distribute souls.
 There need no vows to bind
 Whom not each other seek but find.
 They give and take no pledge or oath,
 Nature is the bond of both.
 No prayer persuades, no flattery fawns,
 Their noble meanings are their pawns.
 Plain and cold is their address,
 Power have they for tenderness,
 And so thoroughly is known
 Each others' purpose by his own,
 They can parley without meeting,
 Need is none of forms of greeting,
 They can well communicate
 In their innermost estate;
 When each the other shall avoid,
 Shall each by each be most enjoyed."


A copy of Joseph Skipsey's death certificate. . . .

Purchase of a burial plot — Gateshead Cemetery no longer exists and the
family have for the present lost track of what became of Skipsey's grave . . . .

Photo courtesy Anthea Lang.

From the Newcastle Journal (1975) — Basil Bunting reads Skipsey . . . .



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