MANSEL PHILIPPS, Richard (1768-1844), of Coedgain, Carm. and Sketty Hall, Swansea, Glam.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1806 - 1812

Family and Education

b. 10 May 1768, 2nd s. of Sir William Mansel, 9th Bt., of Iscoed, Carm. by Mary, da. and event. h. of John Philipps of Coedgain, sis. of George Philipps. m. 17 Aug. 1797, Caroline, da. and h. of Benjamin Bond Hopkins* of Painshill Park, Surr., 2s. 1da. suc. to Coedgain and took additional name of Philipps 24 Jan. 1793.

Offices Held

Mayor, Carmarthen 1798; sheriff, Carm. 1799-1800, Glam. 1802-3.

Lt. RN 1790.


The younger son of an ancient but decaying Welsh family, Mansel Philipps made a reckless bid to stop the rot. He married an heiress and invested in collieries in the Swansea valley, where he was a lieutenant of the sea fencibles. His father had written to Pitt, 6 Apr. 1796, soliciting promotion for him in the navy, as he had served ‘the greatest part of this war, and was Captain Clement Finch’s first lieutenant in the Excellent, but was obliged to be superseded last autumn, on account of ill health, which is now re-established’. In May 1797 he was one of the Friends of Parliamentary Reform who met at the Crown and Anchor and on 6 June he joined the Whig Club.

In 1802, in the absence of his elder brother in India, he offered himself for Carmarthenshire, which his father had represented as a friend of Pitt in the Parliament of 1784, but he lacked sufficient weight and had to content himself with a petition against the sitting Members. According to one critic, though ‘of a very old family ... he had little property in the county, had quarrelled with a great number of people and did not even live in it’, and even his parents would not support him. Subsequently his brother Sir William took over the futile attempt to acquire the county seat and Mansel Philipps looked elsewhere: in 1806 at the instigation of Henry Clifford he found a seat at Stafford, which his late father-in-law had contested in 1790. To Sheridan’s great indignation, owing to a ‘Treasury misunderstanding’, he got two days start of Sheridan’s son Tom in the canvass, and narrowly defeated him at the poll.1

Two attempts by Sheridan’s agents to thwart Mansel Philipps by securing his arrest for petty debts were unavailing; but he was certainly in financial difficulties, and the expense of surviving another contest in 1807 and of litigation over Welsh collieries made matters worse. In 1809 a true bill was found against him at the Surrey sessions on an indictment of obtaining £53 under false pretences from a constituent, intended to secure the discharge of a marine by substitution but used to satisfy a creditor. Mansel Philipps was on 6 June 1811 ordered to attend the House to satisfy it of his sureties for attendance at the next sessions on this charge, which he had evaded: he acted through John Ingram Lockhart*, 14 June. Meanwhile, a libel on the Bishop of Derry on 8 June 1810 in the Cambrian newspaper, to which he fed titbits of news, had got him into further trouble. He was discharged, 29 Jan. 1812, after a visit to Ireland to beg the bishop’s pardon, on the understanding that he would offer a donation to the clergy orphans charity. On 2 Mar. 1812 Sir Francis Burdett, and on 2 June his wronged constituent, by petition, drew the House’s attention to his exploitation of his privilege of immunity as a means of evading justice: the House accepted the petition but appeared to acquiesce in the lawyers’ argument that it would be a breach of privilege to issue legal process to compel him, in spite of the tendency of a resolution of 29 Nov. 1763 denying Members immunity if they published seditious libels.2 There could, however, be no question of Mansel Philipps offering himself for re-election in 1812 after such adverse publicity.

In the House, Mansel Philipps supported the Whig administration, voting for Brand’s motion after their dismissal, 9 Apr. 1807. He further voted with them in opposition on the address, 26 June 1807; on Whitbread’s censure motion of 6 July; for inquiry into pensions and places on 7 July; on Sheridan’s Irish motion of 13 Aug.; against Giffard’s appointment to office in Ireland, 3 Mar. 1808; in favour of the Irish Catholic petition, 25 May 1808, and of Catholics holding posts in the Bank of Ireland, 30 May. After his public exposure, he does not seem to have been a frequent attender: but the Whigs listed him as one of their ‘thick and thin’ supporters in 1810, in which year, recruited for the purpose by Thomas Stepney,3 he was in the minority on 30 Mar. for Lord Porchester’s resolution against the Scheldt expedition. He also voted with opposition on Ponsonby’s amendment to the Regency proposals, 21 Jan. 1811, and was courted by the Friends of Constitutional Reform in 1811. No speech is known. On 17 June 1812 he took a month’s leave for health reasons. After 1812 he took no further part in politics. He died 20 Aug. 1844.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Old Wales, iii. 38; PRO 30/8/155, f. 240; NLW mss 12169, f. 14; Prince of Wales Corresp. vi. 2679; J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1808), 557.
  • 2. Morning Chron. 1 Feb., 14 May; The Times, 1 Feb. 1811, 30 Jan. 1812; CJ, lxvi. 399; lxvii. 409; Parl. Deb. xx. 641; xxi. 1091; xxiii. 237; xxxix. 293.
  • 3. Blair Adam mss, Loch to Adam, 21 Mar. [1810].