What Happened to Philip Murray

This is a story about a young boy named Philip, who passed by this way many years ago. According to British Home Child, Ellen Bilbrough, born 1841 in Yorkshire England became concerned with the plight of London’s poor and uneducated youth. Ellen became acquainted with Annie MacPherson, a noted child welfare activist. In 1869, Ellen and Annie planned to send some of the children of the Home of Industry (an institution devoted to housing and educating children) to Canada. On raising the funds to pay the children’s passage, Ellen Bilbrough and Annie MacPherson escorted 100 boys to Marchmount House in Belleville Ontario. In 1882, an Evangelical missionary Robert Wallace travelled to Canada and Marchmount House to aid Bilbrough with her work. In 1877 they were married. In 1925 Marchmount House and all it’s records were transferred to become Barnardos.

By all accounts Philip was a “Home Boy” and like countless other Home Boys who came to Canada in the eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds, he came as an indentured servant.
Albert Snelgrove’s mother, Annie, agreed to make a home for Philip but she died in 1893 and Philip was left in Albert’s care. Entries from Albert’s diary give us some insite into the life of a small boy who once called Camborne home. From a history of Camborne by the late Doris Emond, Camborne Village, Ontario.


The following information is from Albert Snelgrove’s diary:

January 3, 1894 ….Philip started school, Camborne; Ben Barker thrashed peas; I put on track on cow stable door; I and Philip went over to J. Ferguson’s and spent the evening.

January 5 ….I started to churn butter, it did not come and I could not follow it because Philip was at school and Ben was thrashing peas. I and Ben cleaned up the peas 13 bags, then we brought in the pig that we killed yesterday and weighed it (251 lb). In evening I and Philip went to a concert at Camborne in connection with the Royal Templers of Temperance, admission silver collection.

January 8 ….Philip gone to school I done the chures then I went to Cobourg on my way back I paid Jno. Hoskin $50.00 on principal on mortgage. In Cobourg I sold 15 lbs. Of butter at 20 cents per lb. = $3.00 and 1 bu. apples 80 cents bought 5 loaves of bread; paid A. Pratt $5.80 on account on way home got my tea at Mr. Williams by invitation.

January 10 ….Finished cutting up the pig and salted the pork for the first time then Herbert Parsons came over and told me that Philip had been sleigh riding and had been badly hurt and I was to come quick, he was at Mr. Williams. I went, several were there, we could find no bones broken, I staied there all night, he seemed some better in the morning.

January 11 ….I came home and done the chures then started back, I met Norman Williams coming to tell me that Philip was worse and I had better go for a doctor. I went for Dr. Sands, Coldsprings, he said the injury was all in the stomach. I staied up with Philip all night, the doctor came again in the evening and did not like his simtims.

January 12 ….Mr. Williams and Norman are not well so I did their morning chures came home about 9 o’clock. Mary Watts came over and finished rendering the lard and made head cheese and butter. I am going back to Mr. Williamsfor the night. Mrs. T. Parsons staied up to night.

January 13 ….Just done what I had to at home, staied the rest of the time at Mr. Williams and came home done the chures then Mrs. Ben Barker sat up all night. I slept with Norman.

January 14 ….The doctor came about 2:30 o’clock, he said Philip was doing well but he was not out of danger then I went to Sunday School, got my tea at Mr. Williams, came home, done chures then went back and staid with Philip.

January 15 ….Much the same as previous day but I took down some bedding for Philip.

January 16 ….came home took a little rest, done chures then went to R. T. Temperance meeting, stayed with Philip all night.

January 17 ….Went to Cobourg in p. m. attended Temperance convention, got a few things which cost $1.15, paid Mary Watts up to date. I staid home all night.

January 18 ….Mary Watts came here all day, in p.m. I went to Camborne. Mrs. Williams told me the doctor said Philip was worse, that he (Philip) got up when she was doing her work upstaires so I had to go there and stay there all night.

January 19 ….Came home from Williams done chures. Jos. Hardcastle came here, I gave him an order for 15 pear trees (Bartlett) which cost $4.40 then went back to Williams, the doctor came, Philip was no worse, came home again, and prepared to go to entertainment at Cobourg Opera House. Norman Williams intends going with me. I presented Mr. And Mrs. Williams $5.00 for favors received.

January 22 ….Fixed handle on stable scraper, got my breakfast and dinner together then wrote two letters, one to Belleville Home and one to Geo. Curtis, Peterborough….went to Camborne, posted letters, got my tea there and brought home two pies from Mrs. Williams, on my way down I took Mrs. Redpath a few turnips. This morning I engaged Geo. Wagg to cut some cordwood in north woods at 65 cents per cord.

January 25 ….Went to Cobourg, sold 1 bu. apples 40 cents and 15 lb. Butter, bought 4 lb ginger snaps 25 cents, 3 lbs soda biscuits 25 cents 25 cents worth brown sugar, 2 loaves of bread 10 cents, I also paid Sailsbray $15..42 15.42 for Sunday School papers and the World Publishing Co. $2.00 for bills printed October 7, 1893, bought one shirt for Philip 50 cents, 3 spools of cotton 10 cents. On my way home I called for Philip and brought him home from Mr. John Williams.

January 26 ….Philip went to school; I done chures and put one stick behind the calves in cowstable. Geo. Wagg got $2.00 from me on wood account and borrowed single harness.

January 29 ….Philip went to school, I worked a little at stall in driving shed. Mary Watts worked at Mrs. J. Williams washing Philips bed clothing at my expense.

February 2 ….I told Philip I would send him to Belleville Home, he cried very much, did not go to school, he helped me clean up 26 bags of barley. In evening I took Hattie Cullis to a concert at Cobourg.

February 3 ….I went to Cobourg with twenty-nine bushels barley, got or will get 38 cents per bu. Philipwent with me. I bought one suit for Philip at $5.00, one tie 25 cents, one set of cuffs 30 cents, and one collar 15 cents for yself which was charged at Sam Clarks, bought a ticket for Philip to go to Belleville on Mon. Lunch for us 20 cents.

February 5 ….This morning I took Philip Murray to Cobourg station and started him off to Belleville. Good bye Philip….

Regards Ranger


  1. Thank you so much for this. Touching and almost unfathomable, the “realness” of it so palpably alive. If we could similarly find Mary Rose, perhaps even before she came to Canada, I am sure it would be as heartfelt engaging it’s own way.


    1. Patrick, Philips story is one that had to be told, very historic, and the Ranger knows so many of the people and their descendants of Camborne. Like the story of Rose’s Cottage there is so much more to learn. Thanks for comment.


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