PHILLIPS, William (c.1730-81).
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Family and Education
Ensign Ordnance regt. 1745; gent. cadet Royal Artillery 1746; lt. fireworker 1747; q.m. 1750; lt-col. army 1760; col. 1772; maj.-gen. 1777.
Phillips’s early history is unknown, and he was probably of humble origin. He served in Germany during the seven years’ war, commanded the artillery at Minden, and made a good impression on his military superiors. He became a close friend of Henry Clinton and the 2nd Duke of Newcastle and in 1774 took a large share in organizing the election for Westminster of Lord Thomas Pelham Clinton. He ‘distinguished himself at Westminster almost as much as he did at Minden’, wrote North to Newcastle, 26 Oct. 1774;1 and at North’s suggestion Newcastle brought him into Parliament for Boroughbridge.
His attendance in the Commons was short. In 1776 he went on active service to Canada, in 1777 accompanied Burgoyne’s expedition, was captured at Saratoga, and not exchanged until 1781. He then served in Rhode Island and Virginia; and died at Petersburg, Virginia, 13 May 1781, ‘as brave and honourable a soldier as ever served in’ the Royal Artillery.2