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) . . . .
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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 . . . .