PHIPPS, Thomas (?1648-1715), of Clerkenwell, Mdx. and Heywood Place, nr. Westbury, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Feb. - Nov. 1701
17 July - 1 Dec. 1702

Family and Education

?bap. 3 Dec. 1648, 2nd s. of Thomas Phipps (d. 1688), clothier, of Westbury Leigh, nr. Westbury by Eleanor, da. of James Hayes of Beckington, Som., sis. of John* and Sir James Hayes†.  m. 20 Jan. 1674, Bridget (d. 1724), da. of Peter Short, Merchant Taylor, of All Hallows-in-the-Wall, London, 7s. (3 d.v.p.) 7da. (4 d.v.p.).1

Offices Held

Burgess, Wilton 1699–d.2


Phipps’s family had been settled in north Wiltshire from at least the 1450s, when a predecessor, also Thomas, served as rector of nearby Orcheston St. Mary. By the late 16th century the family had become prominent linen drapers. Phipps himself, as the second son, sought his fortune in London, settling first in Cornhill then Clerkenwell. His father-in-law may have helped to set him up as a mercer, and he became involved in the East India and New England trade. Despite his business activities in London, where in 1684 he acted as a steward at the annual ‘Wiltshire feast’, a sermon and dinner attended by Wiltshiremen living in the capital, he maintained property interests near his native town, leasing land in Frome, Somerset, in 1679, inheriting from his father a residuary interest in Westbury Leigh in 1688, and purchasing nearby Dilton manor from Sir Stephen Fox* in 1689. Perhaps prompted by the death of his elder brother in 1700, Phipps purchased Heywood Place that same year, the former home of Sir James Ley†, 1st Earl of Marlborough. The £6,935 which he paid for this estate, itself a testament to his business success, was offset by the sale of Leigh to his cousin in 1702.3

Although these several properties helped to secure his status among the local gentry, he had already announced his political interests at Wilton by securing a place in the corporation in October 1699. His election to Parliament in January 1701 may have been owed to the support of Lord Pembroke (Hon. Thomas Herbert†), although one of the petitions against his return claimed that he was an agent for a large trading corporation in London. His appearance on the ‘black list’ of those who in this Parliament had opposed preparations for war perhaps helps to account for his failure even to contest Wilton in the November general election. Turning his attention to Westbury, where his business connexions as well as property were an advantage, he attempted to build up an interest in opposition to Lord Abingdon (Montagu Venables-Bertie*), but he and his ally William Trenchard*, despite securing returns in 1702, were soon unseated on petition. Although the Commons’ decision on this case was regarded by many as having been too obviously partisan, Phipps did not challenge Abingdon again, and his contribution to the work of the House was as inconsequential as it was brief. He may well have been the Thomas Phipps who in 1711–12 headed a syndicate projecting a farmed tax on alehouse licences, and is almost certain to have been the ‘old trader’ to the plantations, of 30 years’ standing, who in 1712 published his testimony to the Commons in defence of the Royal African Company, evidence that carried more weight, he claimed, because of long experience both as an interloper in the Africa trade and as a member of the company.4

In his later years Phipps became embroiled in financial difficulties, partly as a result of the marriage of his eldest son, Thomas, on whom he settled an estate of £400 while the bride’s mother defaulted on paying a £4,000 dowry. Phipps unsuccessfully sued for this money in Chancery, and in 1713 he was himself judged against for a £300 debt. When Phipps died on 19 Apr. 1715 his heir inherited the Heywood estate with a mortgage of some £6,000. In 1720 Thomas sold Dilton to pay a portion of this debt, and eventually he was obliged to sell Heywood itself to a distant cousin. Two of Phipps’s surviving sons became governors of Bombay and the Cape Coast, but neither sat in Parliament.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: D. W. Hayton / Henry Lancaster


  • 1. H. R. Phipps, Phipps Notes, pt. 5, pp. 1–2, ped.; Hoare, Wilts. Westbury, 32; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 1057; Wilts. RO, 2161/3/1; 540/327.
  • 2. Wilts. RO, G25/1/21, p. 540; G25/1/22, p. 20.
  • 3. Wilts. RO, 540/327, 331; 2161/3/1; 212B/6896; Hoare, 34; Phipps, 1, 8; PCC 142 Noel; 110 Exton; Wilts. N. and Q. ii. 35; VCH Wilts. viii. 153, 162, 165.
  • 4. HMC Portland, iv. 26; Boyer, Anne Annals, iii. 5; The Proposals of Thomas Phipps Esq. . . (1711); Thomas Phipps . . . Proposal (1712); Mr Phipps’s Speech . . . March the 27th 1712 (1712).
  • 5. Wilts. RO, 540/368; Phipps, 2, 10–11, 13, 14; VCH Wilts. 162.