Philip Grimshaw, Born at Sea

On the Ship The Seven Sisters

Phillip Grimshaw was born at sea, reportedly on the ship The Seven Sisters, in about 1838-1840. His parents were James and Eliza (Fraser) Grimshaw, who most likely were from Scotland, possibly Kilmarnock. Phillip apparently spent time in Canada or the U.S. as a boy, and he joined the Navy (believed to be the U.S. or Canadian Navy) as a young man. He had a brother – probably a twin – on board the same ship who was flogged so severely that he died. He was buried at sea near the island of St Helena in the Atlantic Ocean. Not long after, Phillip “jumped ship” in Dundee, Scotland, where settled and raised a family. He married Mary Ann Hamilton on August 1, 1865, and the couple had at least three children – Isabell (1865), Mary (1866) , and Eliza Jane (1869) Grimshaw. The first two were were born in Dundee, and the third was born in Perth, and that’s where Phillip died in 1919 and Mary Ann in 1928.


Webpage Credits

Descendant Chart for Phillip Grimshaw

Information from Alex Barclay, Chief Contributor

Additional Information from Lawrence Hay

A Candidate for the Ship The Seven Sisters, on Which Phillip Was Born


Webpage Credits

Thanks go to Alex Barclay for providing information on Philip Grimshaw for this webpage. Also to Lawrence Hay for posting information on message boards that have helped develop the “story” of Phillip Grimshaw and his family line.

Descendant Chart for Phillip Grimshaw

The descendant chart shown below has been prepared from information availabile on Alex Barclay’s website: 

The chart begins with Phillip’s parents, James and Eliza (Fraser) Grimshaw.

1. James Grimshaw (b.Abt 1807) & Eliza Fraser (b.Abt 1811; m.Abt 1838)

|–2. Phillip Grimshaw (b.Abt 1838-At Sea,aboard “The Seven Sisters”; d.24 Sep 1919-Perth,Scotland) & Mary Ann Hamilton (b.Abt 1843;m.1 Aug 1864; d.29 Jul 1928-Perth,Scotland)

|–|–3. Isabell Grimshaw (b.17 Jan 1865-Dundee,Scotland) & William Trueland (m.3 Jul 1885)

|–|–3. Mary Grimshaw (b.16 Dec 1866-Wilsons Land,Upper Pleasance,Dundee,Scotland; d.6 Jul 1952-Glasgow,Scotland) & David Barclay (b.29 Sep 1862-Dundee,Scotland; m.15 Nov 1886;d.13 Dec 1862-Glasgow,Scotland)

|–|–|–4. William Barclay (d.Bef 1890-Dundee,Scotland)

|–|–|–4. David Barclay (b.24 Sep 1890-Dundee,Scotland; d.29 Sep 1969-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada) & Robina Agnew Currie (b.10 Nov 1887-Glasgow,Scotland; m.16 Feb 1912; d.8 Sep 1961-Collingwood,O,Canada)

|–|–|–|–5. Robina Agnew Barclay (b.2 Dec 1912-Perth,Scotland) & George Arthur Warfe (b.20 Nov 1908; m.16 Feb 1935;d.May 1975)

|–|–|–|–|–6. Joyce Ellen Warfe (b.2 Apr 1940) & William Sutart Logan (b.1937;m.14 Feb 1959)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Cindy Lynn Logan (b.4 May 1961-Meaford,Ontario,Canada)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Robert Stewart Logan (b.8 Sep 1964-Meaford,Ontario,Canada)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Mark Allen Logan (b.18 Sep 1971-Meaford,Ontario,Canada)

|–|–|–|–|–6. James Fraser Warfe (b.19 Oct 1944)

|–|–|–|–|–6. John David Warfe (d.5 Feb 1943-All Saints Anglican Cemetary,Collingwood,Ontario,Canada)

|–|–|–|–5. Mary Grimshaw Barclay (b.12 Aug 1916-Perth,Scotland) & Lachlan Neil McEachern (b.1909-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada; m.1934; d.1944-Killed in Action, RCA, Germany)

|–|–|–|–|–6. Jessie Sylvia Jean McEachern (b.27 Nov 1939-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada) & Bruce Alexander MacKison (b.16 May 1936-Hamilton,Ontario,Canada; m.10 Jul 1965)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Andrew David Alexander MacKison (b.14 Jan 1970)

|–|–|–|–|–6. Kathlene Lavern McEachern (b.9 Jul 1936-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada) & Robert Murdoch Matheson (b.9 Jul 1936-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada; m.3 May 1952)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. John Neil Matheson (b.25 Nov 1952-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada) & Sherry Smith

|–|–|–|–|–|–|–8. John Robert Neil Matheson (b.5 Jul 1974-Burnt Fort Eyre,Canada)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Robin Anne Matheson (b.1 Sep 1955-Montreal,Canada)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Susan Jean McEachern Matheson (b.21 Nov 1964-St Therese,Quebeq,Canada)

|–|–|–|–|–6. David Barclay McEachern (b.13 May 1935-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada) & August Baltz (b.4 Apr 1933-Germany; m.21 Jun 1957)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Michelle Rosvita McEachern McEachern (b.30 Apr 1958-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Neil Barclay McEachern (b.2 Sep 1959-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Noel Robert McEachern (b.16 Feb 1962-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Mark David McEachern (b.15 May 1963-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada; d.18 Feb 1965)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Barbara Lynn McEachern (b.20 Jun 1966-Kincardin,Ontario,Canada)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Terence Douglas Herbert McEachern (b.1968-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada)

|–|–|–|–5. Jessie Currie Barclay (b.23 Dec 1918-Glasgow,Scotland) & Noel Arthur Chessell (b.13 Dec 1918; m.5 Jun 1941)

|–|–|–|–|–6. Ross Fredrick Chessell (b.17 Mar 1946-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada) & Lynda Duncan Bourri (m.9 Aug 1973)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Teril Lyn Bourri Chessell (b.17 Jan 1968)

|–|–|–|–|–6. David Thomas Chessell (b.11 Aug 1947-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada) & Cheryl Ann Crowston (m.12 Jun 1971)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Lori Jeanette Chessell (b.12 May 1973)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Sarah Elaine Chessell (b.21 Jun 1975)

|–|–|–|–|–6. Douglan Neil Chessell (b.11 Aug 1947-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada) & Rosemary Jane Hogg (m.4 Oct 1971)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Karen Elizabeth Chessell (b.21 Sep 1973)

|–|–|–|–|–|–7. Kyle Douglas Chessell (b.15 Mar 1976)

|–|–|–|–|–6. Glen Phillip Chessell (b.25 May 1956-Collingwood,Ontario,Canada)

|–|–|–4. Philip Grimshaw Barclay (b.16 Feb 1893-Dundee,Angus,Scotland; d.18 Oct 1972) & Mary Harvey Edward (m.2 Apr 1919)

|–|–|–|–5. Phillip Grimshaw Barclay (b.25 Jun 1920-Glasgow,Scotland; b.30 May 1942-Killed in Action, RCA, Germany)

|–|–|–4. Helen Stewart Barclay (b.14 Aug 1900-Dundee,Scotland;d .24 Dec 1909)

|–|–|–4. Thomas Hamilton Barclay (b.14 Oct 1902-Linlithgow,Scotland; d.10 Nov 1964-Lower Eaton Bishop,Hereford,England) & Enid Jessica Sawyers (b.23 Jun 1908-Uxbridge, M, England; m.10 Sep 1946; d.3 Dec 2002-Bristol,England)

|–|–|–|–5. Alexander Keith Barclay (b.21 Nov 1948-Calcutta,India)& Kelly Lee Turner (b.24 Oct 1958-Singapore; m.26 Sep 1987)

|–|–|–|–|–6. Joseph Hamilton Barclay (b.25 Jun 1988-Q.M.C.,Nottingham,England)

|–|–|–|–|–6. Thomas Alexander Barclay (b.17 Sep 1990-Q.M.C.,Nottingham,England)

|–|–|–|–|–6. Gemma Lee Barclay (b.10 Jun 1992-Q.M.C.,Nottingham,England)

|–|–|–|–|–6. Andrew James Barclay (b.31 Jan 1994-Q.M.C.,Nottingham,England) & Elizabeth Smith McClelland (b.1908; m.1928(Div))

|–|–|–|–5. Agnes McL Barclay (b.1929-Patrick,Glasgow,Scotland;d.1936 age 7-Glasgow,Scotland)

|–|–|–4. Mary Ann Hamilton Barclay (b.19 Feb 1905;d.1 Sep 1968) & Richard Fredrick FitzGerald (b.Abt 1903-Dublin,Ireland,England)

|–|–|–|–5. Mary Grimshaw FitzGerald

|–|–|–|–5. Helen FitzGerald

|–|–|–|–5. David Barclay FitzGerald

|–|–|–|–5. William Joseph FitzGerald

|–|–|–|–5. Patricia Anne FitzGerald

|–|–|–4. Alberto Braccini Barclay (b.27 Apr 1908-Perth,Scotland; d.14 Feb 1989-Harrow,Middlesex,England) & Winifred Slater Law (b.29 Dec 1905; m.19 Sep 1932; d.6 Apr 1981-Harrow,Middlesex,England)

|–|–|–|–5. Albert James Barclay (b.1 Oct 1934-Glasgow,Scotland) & Norma Joy Chambers (b.29 Mar 1940-Ashby de-la-Zouch,England; m.5 Apr 1968)

|–|–|–|–|–6. Fiona Jane Barclay (b.4 Mar 1971)

|–|–|–|–|–6. Lisa Elizabeth Ann Barclay (b.15 Apr 1973)

|–|–3. Eliza Jane Grimshaw (b.14 Jul 1869-Perth,Scotland) & William Moffat (m.1 Jan 1892)

Information from Alex Barclay, Chief Contributor

Alex Barclay has conducted extensive research on Phillip Grimshaw’s family line. In response to a request for information in November 2008 for this webpage, Alex kindly provided the following information via e-mail.

Below is the sum total of my Grimshaw info – you are most welcome to post it.

Before he died in 1989 my uncle Alberto Braccini Barclay told me the following information (in quotes) . So far I have not been able to verify any of it.

“Phillip Grimshaw was born aboard “The Seven Sisters”, a vessel said by to have been captained by his father James Grimshaw and registered in Boston. I do not know if this is Boston USA or Boston UK – both are ports. Phillip is said to have joined the American Navy and at some point was wanted as a deserter. So he changed his name to Fraser, his mothers name. Phillp had a (twin?) brother who died as a result of being flogged and was buried on or near (at sea) the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic. Phillip often said that he remembered his Grandfather at the age of 100 climbing up and trimming vines in his vinyard at a place called Lower Falls in Canada or the USA .”

I have read that the Seven Sisters shuttled back and forward between the UK and Pictau / New Glasgow in Nova Scotia Canada. There are several places called Lower Falls in North America, the nearest one I have found to Pictau is in Vermont. It is possible but by no means certain that Phillips Grandrather was a resident there in earliy (ish) american colonial times. I do not know if there are / were / have ever been any Grimshaw families resident in the Lower Falls area of Vermont.

I believe that the information on the internet about James also being born at sea aboard the Seven Sisters is not correct and is an error.

I have speculated that Phillip and his brother may have served together in the american(??) navy together and that after he witnessed his brother being flogged to death, Phillip may have subsequently jumped ship in Dundee Scotland.

Phillip married Mary Ann Hamilton 1st August 1864 in Dundee Scotland. Phillip does not appear in the UK register of Births at Sea which goes back to 1835 but which is not necessarily complete.

I see from this site that many of the Grimshaws came from a village called “Grimshaw” near Blackburn in Lancashire. I live about 20 miles away and so I took a drive out there to have a look. There are only a few modern houses there and a few old industrial buildings – the rest is fields. I looked up the word Grimshaw in the online searchable back issues of The Times newspaper. I found that there were riots there (and also in the surrounding region) in 1830 / 40 resulting from mass unemployment among mill workers caused the introduction of power looms. As a member of the LDS church (the Mormons) I was fascinated to learn that many of the Grimshaw families and villagers joined the first established branch of LDS church in Preston (15 miles away) and they walked there and back every Sunday before eventually travelling to Liverpool and emigrating Utah.

I have not yet searched through the early membership records of the Preston Branch of the LDS church. I have not yet been able to make any connection between Phillip Grimshaw and the Grimshaw families at Grimshaw village in Lancashire.

In a subsequent e-mail, Alex provided the following:

The only certain facts about Phillip are his 1st August 1864 marriage to Mary Ann Hamilton in Dundee and his death in 1919 in Perth

It is very tempting to think that he may have come from Scotland originally, but it is equally possible that he simply ended up there after jumping ship in Dundee (a port).

In the 1830s Grimshaws were found all over the UK particularly in Lancashire and also on the Isle of Man

Additional Information from Lawrence Hay

Lawrence Hay has posted messages regarding this family line on several genealogical message boards. These messages contain significant information and are therefore provided below from a companion webpage on this website.

Lawrence Hay posted the following message on the Grimshaw Family Genealogy Forum in March 2001:

Grimshaws of Kilmarnock

The Grimshaws of Kilmarnock were found to be recognised by the name of Fraser. The birth of James Fraser according to the 1881 census was given as registered in Boston U.S.A. Investigation has uncovered that there was no registration in Boston of James Fraser between 1800 and 1849 or in the annex towns between 1629 and 1912 if anyone can help it would much appreciated.

Lawrence Hay posted the following message on the Grimshaw Family Genealogy Forum in November 2000:

Phillip Grimshaw, Born on the Ship “The Seven Sisters”

Philip Grimshaw was born on board a ship called The Seven Sisters about 1839 The ship was registered in London, but I believe that his registration was in Boston.

In April 2002 Lawrence Hay posted the following message on the Grimshaw Family Genealogy Forum:

I am looking for Grimshaws who may have lived in the area of Nova Scotia between 1800 and 1830. I have had information that a Grimshaw was in the Canadian navy sometime between 1845 and 1865. The story is that a Grimshaw was executed by the authorities for mutiny. Another story is that he jumped ship in Scotland and settled there.

Previously, in March 2000, Lawrence posted the following message:

James Grimshaw Born about 1813 on board a ship called “Seven Sisters”

Eliza Fraser Born about 1817 aboard a ship called “Seven Sisters”

Philip Grimshaw born about 1839 aboard a ship called “Seven Sisters

Lloyds Register of Shipping can give no clue to the “SEVEN SISTERS” after 1840. No ship that name after that date. It was a Brigantine and was classed as having been captured. can anybody give me any information about this ship.

It seems strange that father, mother and son should be born at sea aboard a vessel that had a dubious reputation of having sailed between London and Pictou in Nova Scotia.

It was built in 1784 and according to Lloyds its lifetime was 14 years, and yet it was still supposed to be sailing in 1840.

In January 2000, Lawrence posted the following message.

I am looking for descendents of Mary Grimshaw She married David Barclay on November 15 1886 in Dundee Scotland. They had five children, David Barclay was born on September 24 1890 in Dundee, Philip Grimshaw Barclay on February 16 1893 in Dundee, Thomas Hamilton Barclay was born on October 14 1902 in Linlithgow, Mary Ann Hamilton Barclay was born on February 19 1905 in Linlithgow, and Alberto Bracini Barclay was born on April 27 1908 Perth. I have had news about a member of the Barclay family who lives in SE London. I have also had some information about a Philip Grimshaw Barclay who lives in Winnipeg in Canada. Can anybody help me in this search

In August 1999, Lawrence posted the following:

Philip Grimshaw/Mary Ann Hamilton 1864

The 1881 Census states that Mary Ann Grimshaw was resident at 138 Lochee Road Dundee and her Daughter Eliza Jane was also mentioned. I find it very strange that her husband was not named nor were her other two daughters Mary and Isabella. Isabella was my Great Grandmother and I have her death Certificate from 1939. Can anybody help in my search.

In May 1999, Lawrence posted the following:

I am looking for any information about the family of Richard Fitzgerald who married Mary Barclay somewhere between 1915 and 1925. To her family she was referred to as Needle.

and the following:

David Barclay Married to Mary Grimshaw about 1885/1899 in Dundee, but went to live in Glasgow in the Area of West Graham Street.

Daughter lived in the Great Western Road Glasgow. I knew her as Auntie Needle.

and the following in February and July 1999 and in March 2000:

James Grimshaw father of Philip Grimshaw and wife of Elya Grimshaw ms Fraser. Around about 1830/1900

Information about the ship called “The Seven Sisters” This ship sailed between London and Pictou(Nova Scotia) and was last registered in 1813. James Grimshaw was never registered as a Ship Master. This ship was reported as having been captured and was in very bad condition it was a Brigantine, it had a single-deck and weighed 179 tons. James Grimshaw had nothing to do with the “Seven Sisters”

James Grimshaw probably from somewhere in Pictou Nova Scotia

A Candidate for the Ship The Seven Sisters, on Which Phillip Was Born

A candidate ship, a schooner named The Seven Sisters, has been identified as the craft on which Phillip Grimshaw was born. It was built in 1824 or 1834 in Prospect, Maine and had as its port Addison, Maine from 1860 to 1873 according to “American Lloyds Register”1. The ship (if it is the correct one) was built by John Clifford of Stockton Springs and named for his seven daughters: Betsey, Sarah, Abigail, Susan, Catherine, Mary and Francis. The record of its origins is shown below:

The Mystic Seaport website includes records of The Seven Sisters from the “American Lloyd’s Register of American and Foreign Shipping” from 1859 to 1873. The earliest and latest of these records are shown below. According to these records, the schooner was built in 1834 (ten years earlier than indicated in the John Clifford record above) in Prospect, Maine, and it was rebuilt in 1855. It belonged to the Boston port in 1859 but to the Addison port in 1860 and thereafter. The ship’s Captain was O.C. Crowley, and it was owned first by the Captain and then by J Crowley.

There is also an image from the 1858 New York Marine Register (a year earlier than the above records); it is shown below. It also shows a home port of Boston. It was owned and operated by Captain Atwater, and apparent predecessor of O.C. Crowley.


1Author Unknown, 1894, The Maine Historical Magazine, vol. 8, January 1893 – December 1893: Bangor, Maine, Charles H. Glass Printers, p. 95


Webpage History

Webpage posted November 2008.