Mrs Philippa Frances Emilia SHIRLEY, née Knight (1829–1902)
Her son Walter Sewallis SHIRLEY (1859–1861)
Her daughter the Hon. Miss Mary Philippa SHIRLEY (1857–1917)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 9, Grave D67

Shirley grave




BORN 14 OC. 1829 DIED 2 FE. 1902



WHO DIED 21 JAN 1861







BORN 28 DEC·1857 DIED 9 SEP·1917



Philippa Frances Emilia Knight (later Mrs Shirley) was born in Handsworth, Staffordshire on 14 October 1829. She was the only child of of Samuel Knight of Impington Hall, Cambridgeshire and his wife Amelia Moulliet of Hampstead Hall, Staffordshire.

Philippa’s father died when she was a child, and in the second quarter of 1838 her mother married her second husband, the Revd Littleton Charles Powys. At the time of the 1841 census Philippa (12) was at the Rectory House, Stalbridge, Dorset with her mother, stepfather, and ten-month-old half-brother Littleton Albert Powys, and their six servants.

Philippa’s husband, Walter Waddington Shirley, was born at Shirley in Derbyshire on 14 July 1828, the eldest son of Walter Augustus Shirley, and was matriculated at the University of Oxford by Wadham College at the age of 17 on 30 June 1846. He was a Fellow of that college from 1852 to 1854. full information about him can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

On 4 July 1855 at Abberley, Worcestershire, Philippa Frances Emilia Knight married Walter Waddington Shirley, and their marriage was announced in the Morning Chronicle and several other newspapers. They had the following children:

  • Alice Shirley (born at Parks Road, Oxford on 17 June 1856 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 18 July; birth announced in The Times)
  • Mary Philippa Shirley (born at Godmanchester, Huntingdonshire on 28 December 1857 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 2 February 1858; birth announced in the Morning Chronicle)
  • Walter Sewallis Knight Shirley (born at Parks Road, Oxford on 13 October 1859 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 30 November; birth announced in The Times and Jackson’s Oxford Journal)
  • Laeta Shirley (born at Parks Road, Oxford in 1861 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 29 June)
  • Walter Knight Shirley (born at Christ Church, Oxford on 5 June 1864 and baptised at Christ Church Cathedral on 7 July)
  • Ralph Shirley (born at Christ Church, Oxford on 30 December 1865 and baptised at Christ Church Cathedral on 8 February 1866).

A few months after his marriage, on Christmas Day 1855, Walter Shirley was ordained at Christ Church Cathedral by the Bishop of Oxford. From 1855 to 1863 he was Tutor and Lecturer in Mathematics at Wadham College

The couple first lived at Parks Road (then called Park Street) in St Mary Magdalen parish. Their baby son Walter died there in early 1861 (and must have been buried in a full-sized plot, as his mother was buried with him over forty years later):

† Walter Sewallis Knight Shirley died at Parks Road at the age of 15 months on 21 January 1861 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 25 January 1861 (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

At the time of the 1861 census Walter and Philippa Shirley were living at 5 Parks Road with their two surviving children Alice (4) and Mary (3), as well as their nephew Claudius Harris (3), who had been born in India, and four servants (a cook, nurse, parlourmaid, and housemaid).

In January 1864 Philippa's husband was appointed Regius Professor in Ecclesiastical History at Oxford and Canon of Christ Church, and the family moved to the Canon’s House there.

Less than three years after his appointment, on 20 November 1866, Professor Walter Waddington Shirley died at the Canon's House in Christ Church at the age of 38, and was buried at Christ Church Cathedral on 27 November. His effects came to nearly £30,000.

Philippa moved with her children to 7 New Inn Hall Street, which had been occupied by David Durell, Chairman of the Oxford Canal Company, until his death in 1865. This was the former office of the Oxford Canal Company, built in 1797, and is now the main entrance of St Peter’s College, below. She renamed the building Wyaston House after one of the manors on the Shirley family estates in Derbyshire.

St Peter's College

In 1867 Mrs Philippa Shirley had photographs of some of her children taken by the Oxford photographer J. H. Guggenheim: Mary Philippa and Alice, Walter, and Ralph.

At the time of the 1871 census Philippa was living at Wyaston House with her surviving children Alice (14), Mary (13), Laeta (9), Walter (6), and Ralph (5), plus a governess and four servants.

At the time of the 1881 census it looks as though Philippa may have been out of the country with her daughters Alice and Laeta, and only her daughter Mary (23) was at home in New Inn Hall Street, with three servants. Her sons Walter (16) and Ralph (15) were both boarding at Winchester College, and they moved on to New College, Oxford in 1883 and 1885 respectively.

Two of her children were married before the next census:

  • On 26 January 1887 at St Peter-le-Bailey Church, Oxford, Alice Shirley married William Richardson Linton, the Vicar of Shirley;
  • On 9 July 1890 at St George's, Hanover Square, Walter Knight Shirley married Mary Jane Moon.

In 1891 Philippa (61) was at home in New Inn Hall Street with her unmarried children Mary (33), Laeta (29), and Ralph (25).

By 1901 the family had moved to Park Street in Woodstock, and Philippa (71) can be seen there with Mary (43) and Laeta (39), and four servants.

Philippa died the following year, and so did not live to see her son Walter succeed his third cousin as Earl Ferrers in 1907:

† Mrs Philippa Frances Emilia Shirley née Knight died at Fletcher’s House, Woodstock at the age of 72 on 2 February 1902 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 5 February (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

Her son Ralph was married in 1903:

  • On 28 July 1903 in Fulham, Ralph Shirley married Florence Beatrice Wright.

Her daughter Miss Mary Philippa Shirley remained in Woodstock, and can be seen living in Oxford Street there in 1911 with her niece Marion Linton (19) and two servants. In 1913 she was granted the style and precedence of the daughter of an Earl by Royal Warrant, and hence her probate record states that she was “commonly called Lady Mary Shirley”.

By the time of her death in 1917, Mary was living at Helensbourne in Abingdon with her younger sister Laeta. She was buried in Oxford with her mother and baby brother:

† The Hon. Miss Mary Philippa Shirley died at the Acland Home in Oxford at the age of 59 on 9 September 1917 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 12 September (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

Her effects came to £7,160 16s. 1d., and her executor was her sister Laeta.

Other children of Walter and Philippa Shirley
  • Alice Shirley, Mrs Linton (born 1856) and her husband William had just one child, Viola Marion Linton, born in 1892. At the time of the 1901 census they were living at Shirley Vicarage with three servants. Her husband died on 4 January 1908, and she herself died at the age of 54 on 18 January 1911.
  • Laeta Shirley (born 1861), who was still living with her mother in Woodstock in 1901, never married. At the time of the 1911 census when she was 50 years old she was a student at a training college for Sunday School teachers in Lewisham. She was granted the style and precedence the daughter of an Earl by Royal Warrant in 1913. Her home was at Helensbourne, Abingdon when she died at the Acland Hospital at the age of 67 on 27 November 1928. Her death was announced in The Times, and her funeral was in Abingdon. Her effects came to £14,795 8s. 5d.
  • Walter Knight Shirley (born 1864) and his wife Mary were living with Mary’s widowed mother at 32 Egerton Gardens, Kensington in 1891: he had no occupation, and was living on his own means. They had five children, all born in Kensington: Margery Joan Shirley (1891), Elizabeth Mary Fletcher Shirley (1892, died the following year), Robert Walter Shirley (1894), Phillida Shirley (1896), and Andrew Shirley (1900). By 1901 Walter was working as an architect, and he and Mary had their own home at 5 Victoria Road, Kensington. He was the great-great-grandson of the brother of the fourth, fifth, and sixth Lord Ferrers, and when those three lines all failed he succeeded his third cousin as the 11th Earl Ferrers in 1907. He died on 2 February 1937 and was succeeded by his son Robert Walter Shirley (12th Earl). He in turn was succeeded in 1954 by his son Robert Washington Shirley (13th Earl) and in 2012 by his grandson Robert William Saswalo Shirley (the present 14th Earl).
    Wikipedia: Earl Ferrers
  • Ralph Shirley (born 1865) amd his wife Florence had no children. He was staying in a hotel at the time of the 1911 census and was described as a publisher. In 1913 he was granted the rank of an earl’s younger son. His wife Florence died in the Fulham district at the age of 47 in 1926, and on 24 July 1935 in the Wellingborough district he married his second wife, Lilian Octavia Fortesque Ingram. He died on 29 December 1946, aged 80, without issue.



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