PHILIPPS, Sir John, 6th Bt. (?1701-64), of Picton Castle, Pemb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1741 - 1747
9 Dec. 1754 - 1761
1761 - 23 June 1764

Family and Education

b. ?1701, 2nd s. of Sir John Philipps, 4th Bt., by Mary, da. and h. of Anthony Smith, an East India merchant.  educ. Pembroke, Oxf. 4 Aug. 1720, aged 19.  m. 22 Sept. 1725, Elizabeth, da. of Henry Shepherd of London, 1s. 3da.  suc. bro. as 6th Bt. 15 Oct. 1743.

Offices Held

Ld. of Trade Dec. 1744-Mar. 1745; custos rot. Haverfordwest 1761- d.; P.C. 10 Jan. 1763.


Philipps was a leader of the Tory country gentlemen, and had been a well-known Jacobite. At the general election of 1754 he considered contesting Haverfordwest, but eventually stood at Bristol, with Richard Beckford, on the Tory interest. He came third on the poll, but was brought into Parliament for Petersfield by William Beckford.1 Philipps took a very active part in the affairs of the House, without ever reaching the front rank of debaters. Temple called him ‘the quintessence of dullness’,2 and Walpole commented that, when he moved the address of thanks to Speaker Onslow, he did it ‘wretchedly’.3

Like many of the Tories, he was sympathetic at this period to Pitt, and wrote to him, 6 Aug. 1757:4

The state of our affairs ... continues to wear a most gloomy aspect. It must however be a great satisfaction to you and your friends in power to consider that you were not the authors of those measures that have brought us into this unhappy state, but on the contrary always opposed them, and while you have the lead (which is your country’s wish) I don’t doubt everything will be done that can be done in our present condition to extricate us and to redeem the honour of the nation. God grant that every English heart and hand may join with and support you in so glorious an undertaking.

With the new reign Philipps came into favour, being ‘greatly esteemed’ by the King, and ‘a very warm friend’ of Lord Bute.5 He declared himself a candidate for Pembrokeshire against Sir William Owen in 1760, and it was said that the King had intervened on his behalf.6 Owen was forced to confine himself to Pembroke boroughs, while Philipps was returned for the county unopposed. He was now closely associated with Administration. In 1761 he was appointed custos rotulorum at Haverfordwest. Fox and Bute arranged for him to second the Address in November 1762, though he was prevented from doing so.7 There were attempts to get him a place on the Treasury board,8 and in January 1763 he was appointed to the Privy Council.

A restless, busy man, his zeal in Parliament was sometimes embarrassing to his friends. On 22 Feb. 1763 he moved for an inquiry into the public expenditure during the war—apparently to discomfit Newcastle.9 The King thought it ‘a very silly motion’,10 and Administration managed to evade it. But Bute found him useful as a listening-post among the country gentlemen. In February 1763 Philipps warned him that there was dissatisfaction among the Tories over the proposals for the peacetime army. Bute replied, 23 Feb.:11

I certainly wish to render the peace establishment as agreeable as possible to the nation: in forming it I had two things principally in view, security and economy ... As to economy we saved the half-pay of all the additional Irish regiments ... I hope this peace will be permanent as it is great, but certainly a respectable force kept up will not lessen its duration. However, as it is thought otherwise by gentlemen I greatly respect, I not only acquiesce, but return you, Sir, my hearty thanks for the friendly notice you gave me.

When the matter came before the House, 4 Mar. 1763, Philipps repeated Bute’s arguments, drawing attention to ‘the economy of government in deducting the non-effective men’.12

When Bute retired, Philipps transferred his support to Grenville, and wrote, 8 Sept. 1763, to tell him of an audience in which he had warned the King against the Opposition:13

As I saw a faction formed which appeared to me very formidable, I could not refrain from cautioning his Majesty ... from putting any confidence in them, as I knew their scheme was directly opposite to his Majesty’s, which was to abolish all party distinctions, and to be King over all his people, whereas theirs was to take the throne by storm ... and I went so far as to say, that if his Majesty suffered faction to prevail, he would be a King in shackles.

On the Wilkes issue, he gave general support to the ministry, though voting with Opposition, 23 Nov. 1763, on a motion to postpone a decision on the question of privilege. When, on 21 Feb. 1764, he moved for leave to bring in a bill to define the position on general warrants, he received little support from either side of the House.14

He died 23 June 1764.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: J. A. Cannon


  • 1. Bedford Corresp. ii. 145.
  • 2. Grenville Pprs. ii. 6.
  • 3. Mems. Geo. III, i. 40.
  • 4. Chatham mss.
  • 5. Bute to bp. of St. David’s, 1 Aug. 1764, Bute mss.
  • 6. Bedford Corresp. ii. 424-5.
  • 7. Bute to Fox, 23 Nov. 1762, Hen. Fox mss.
  • 8. Fox to Bute, 17 Dec. 1762, Bute mss.
  • 9. Add. 32946, ff. 365, 367, 369, 381.
  • 10. Sedgwick, 190.
  • 11. Bute mss.
  • 12. Chas. Jenkinson’s report of debate, Bodl. North b. 5.
  • 13. Grenville Pprs. ii. 118.
  • 14. Walpole, Mems. Geo. III, i. 258, 306.