Figgis

The Figgis connection has been an interesting line of investigation.

According to my cousin’s notes there was a Neville Figgis who ‘was a member of the Mirfield Community and he drowned in the Titanic’. The entire passenger and crew list was searched for Neville Figgis but no name emerged. Reverting to the photo album there is a photo of a clergyman with the name Rev J B Figgis. Coincidentally an obituary for someone else in the Daily Telegraph mentioned the Mirfield Community in Yorkshire and I contacted them and Neville Figgis was discovered. This led to reading a biography written by John Westbury-Jones ‘Figgis of Brighton’ (John Benjamin Figgis – John Neville`s father) which gave more details on the Bradley/Figgis connection.

Figgis/Bradley connection

Elizabeth Bradley (daughter of Benjamin and Eliza) married John Figgis, a Commission Merchant in Dublin. The book ‘Figgis of Brighton’ does not make it quite clear but it appears they had four children, two daughters, Jeannie, Jane, and two sons John Benjamin and Samuel. There is also reference to a girl cousin adopted previously.

According to the book, Elizabeth was a woman of forceful character. She, and her siblings, grew up under the ministry of John Angell James at Carrs Lane, Birmingham. The family entered into the church around the time James started, and Elizabeth`s paternal grandmother Jane had also been admitted into Carrs Lane having come from the church in Derby under the Reverend James Gawthorne. ‘On a Sunday the family would walk the two miles from Leinster Sq. to York St. Chapel – from Rathmines, through the City, past Dublin Castle and across the Liffey – then a two hour service. Elizabeth, who had some small experience in teaching and writing, undertook daily instruction for her small family, plus a little cousin, daughter of a Dublin solicitor. Elizabeth visited the poor of the district weekly.’ They lived in Dublin certainly until 1849 when Elizabeth died. She is buried in Mt. Jerome Cemetery. The book refers to a visit she made to England in 1843 with her son John, to visit her father in Bootle, her brother John Henry in Worcestershire, and also her brother Samuel in Manchester, and numerous cousins. After Elizabeth`s death, and also a daughter soon after, two girls went to school in Southport and the boys to Taunton School – John Benjamin1850-52 and Samuel 1850-56. Samuel went on to become a prominent Old Tauntonian, Council Member and indeed President (1911-20). There were strong family (Figgis as well as Bradley) connections with the Oldhams in Dublin – Sarah Ann Oldham marrying Elizabeth`s nephew Samuel Bradley from Blakedown.

Smith is also a name that is often connected, and I know there are other researchers following these names, but I have yet to discover how my Figgis` connect with theirs.

Jane married a former minister Edward Hill and had about five children. They lived in Tottenham, Middlesex.

John Benjamin (b.1837 Dublin – d. 1916 Brighton)

Went to Trinity College Dublin, and then into the ministry as a Congregationalist. He became a well loved and respected minister. He lived in Brighton and married Harriett Webb Chaffey and they had three sons, John Neville, William Chaffey and Samuel Bradley. Harriett suffered bad health after the last child was born, and John Benjamin himself was never very robust. He travelled abroad greatly. Harriett died in 1914. and John Benjamin 1916.

John Benjamin Figgis
John Benjamin Figgis

John Neville

Born 1866 in Brighton, and attended Brighton College. He became a well- known evangelist and politician, preaching and lecturing both here and in America. He had been a very confused young man, constantly searching for the meaning of his life and what he should do. He was known to lead the high life and was at St Catharine`s Cambridge where he read maths but in his fourth year changed to history. He was so confused he was advised to go to India, but instead he surprised everyone and went to Wells Theological College and was ordained in 1894. Six years later, back at Cambridge, he suffered a mental breakdown and on advice went to take up a college living at Marnhull, Dorset. He remained there for five years. He then decided to go to the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield where he gave up all his worldly pursuits. He was there for twelve years. One of his publications ‘Civilisation at the Cross Roads’ was delayed because the corrected proofs “went down with the Titanic”! In 1915 he was travelling to America to lecture on Nietzsche in Illinois but his boat was harried by German submarines. Again in 1918 he went to America to lecture once again but his ship was torpedoed off the coast of Northern Ireland. He survived this but never really recovered fully. His life was a mixture of private disaster and public acclaim. His brother Dr Samuel Bradley Figgis and another doctor recommended he enter a Mental home at Virginia Water in 1919. He died there in April age 53.

Extract from Cambridge Alumni ‘John Neville Figgis Adm. pers. @ St Catherine`s May 1885. Son of John Benjamin (a leading evangelical minister of Lady Huntingdon`s connection). Born October 2 1866 at Brighton (School Brighton College) Matric.Michs. 1885 BA 1888 (Hist.Trip 1st class 1889). Lightfoot scholar 1890. Hon.DD(Glasgow). Ord. Deacon (Petrbr.) 1894; priest 1895; C.of Kettering, Northants 1894-95. C of Gt.St.Mary`s Cambridge 1895-98. Chaplain of Pembroke 1898-1900. R. of Marnhull Dorset 1902-7; resigned and entered Community of Resurrection Mirfield. Hulsean lecturer 1908-9. Noble lecturer at Harvard 1911. Bishop Paddock lecturer at Gen.Theological Seminary New York 1913. Bros lecturer, Lake Forest, Illinois 1915. After an operation, started on third visit to US. His ship Andania torpedoed January 26 1918 and shock hastened death. Author of Divine Right of Kings, Illustration of English History, Christianity and History, The Gospel of Human Needs’.

William Chaffey died aged 8.

Samuel Bradley Figgis became a doctor, practising in Brighton.

Samuel

Samuel, (John Benjamin`s brother) married Anna Marie Smith (his cousin), became a Produce Broker/Colonial Merchant. He married in 1866 at the Old Gravel Pit Meeting House, Morning Lane, in Hackney. John Benjamin Figgis assisted the minister at the ceremony. Their children were:

Howard Bradley (Samuel and Anna Marie`s eldest son) became a Colonial Merchant. In February 1900 he married Edith Annie Woodall in the New College Chapel (Independents) in Hampstead.

Benjamin Ernest Figgis attended Uppingham School, and Pembroke Cambridge (Adm.pens age 20 Oct 1st 1888 matic Michs. 1888). In business, Highwood, Mill Hill, Middlesex 1932.

Kathleen E died 1960.

Maud Mary Figgis married William Henry Bradley (son of Samuel, Timber Merchant, and Jane).

Margaret Anniedied 1972.

John Maurice Figgis attended Highgate School, London. Adm.at Pembroke Oct 1896. Matric.Michs. 1896 BA 1899. Partner in S Figgis & Co Fenchurch St. London EC. Served in Gt. War 1914-19 (Capt.Labour Corps. mentioned in despatches) of Farnborough Grange, Nr Banbury in 1938.

Dorothea Lloyd married Charles Preston

Jessie Norah

Gwendoline Gordon married John Reginald Grundy 1909 and according to the 1911 census they were living at Radlett, Aldenham, Herts with daughter Barbara May age 8 months.