PHILIPPS, Richard Bulkeley Philipps Grant (1801-1857), of Picton Castle, Pemb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1826 - 1834
1837 - 1847

Family and Education

b. 7 June 1801,1 o.s. of John Grant of Nolton, nr. Haverfordwest and Mary Philippa Artemisia, da. and h. of James Child of Begelly House. educ. Westminster 1816-17. m. (1) 14 Oct. 1824, Eliza (d. 24 Mar. 1852), da. of John Gordon of Hanwell, Mdx., s.p.; (2) 8 June 1854, Lady Anne Jane Howard, da. of William, 4th earl of Wicklow [I], s.p. suc. cos. Richard Philipps†, 1st Bar. Milford [I], to Picton Castle 1823 and took name of Philipps by royal lic. 10 Feb. 1824; cr. bt. 13 Feb. 1828; Bar. Milford 21 Sept. 1847. d. 3 Jan. 1857.

Offices Held

Ld. lt. and custos rot. Haverfordwest 1824-d., mayor 1829-30, 1831-2.

Lt. Pemb. yeoman cav. 1819.


Grant was born and spent his early childhood in Narberth, Pembrokeshire, moving to Yardley in 1812 following his mother’s marriage to the Rev. Henry Gwyther. Although not heir to the Philipps baronetcy, he was groomed to succeed its holder, his mother’s kinsman Lord Milford, a leader of the Blue or Whig party in Pembrokeshire (which he represented, 1786-1812) to the 20,000-acre Picton Castle estate, in preference to Rowland Philipps Laugharne of the Orlandon branch of the family. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Pembrokeshire yeomanry cavalry, 29 Dec. 1819, and shortly after he came of age in 1822 he was made a freeman and common councillor of Haverfordwest, where Milford retained a controlling interest.2 He was at Picton Castle when Milford died, 28 Nov. 1823, and wrote immediately to inform ministers and to put forward his claim to the county offices thus vacated. Despite his professed support for Lord Liverpool’s administration, which they had not anticipated, he was denied the county lord lieutenancy; but they granted him the less prestigious offices of lord lieutenant and custos of the county of Haverfordwest.3 As directed in Milford’s will, he received an annuity of £600 and took the arms and name of Philipps. He was to succeed to the life tenancy of the estate at the age of 25, and until then its administration was entrusted to John Hensleigh Allen of Cresselly, a Blue who represented Pembroke Boroughs on Lord Cawdor’s Stackpole Court interest, and John Philipps Adams of Lydstep.4 Both were corporators of Haverfordwest and adept at negotiating post-enclosure land exchanges on Philipps’s behalf.5 He expressed an interest in purchasing the late Sir William Paxton’s† Middleton Hall estate in Carmarthenshire shortly before his marriage in October 1824; and when in 1825 Cawdor put Pembroke’s contributory borough of Wiston up for sale, it was suggested that Philipps might offer £77-80,000 in order to strengthen his influence in that constituency.6 He bought neither and embarked on extensive improvements at Picton Castle, which were completed in 1827.7 William Henry Scourfield, who since 1818 had represented Haverfordwest with Milford’s support, made way for him there at the 1826 general election and county Whigs and Blue favours were much in evidence when he was returned unopposed a few days after his 25th birthday.8 He was keen to promote and expand coal mining on his estates and had recently reminded ministers of his attention to militia duties and lack of a title commensurate with his inheritance.9

Philipps voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and the government’s corn bill, 2 Apr. 1827.10 His new chapel at Picton Castle was opened during the recess, and he supported the campaign for improved amenities at Haverfordwest, becoming the secretary and honorary vice-president of the savings bank there.11 Lord Goderich granted his request for a baronetcy in November 1827, shortly after Cawdor’s elevation to an earldom, and he was invested at a cost of about £260 in February 1828, when the duke of Wellington was the premier.12 He presented petitions from Pembrokeshire for repeal of the Test Acts, 18, 19, 21 Feb., and voted accordingly, 26 Feb., but divided against Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He spent the summer recess at Picton Castle. Returning there in December 1828, he had a lucky escape when his carriage lost a wheel on the bridge at St. Clears and was suspended precariously above the swollen river.13 The patronage secretary Planta predicted that he would vote ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation in 1829. Haverfordwest petitioned both ways, but remained predominantly hostile to the measure. Philipps probably voted against it, 6, 18 Mar., and certainly presented unfavourable petitions, 9 Mar. His support for the anti-Catholic cause was gratefully acknowledged in a spontaneous ceremony when he returned to Haverfordwest in April.14 He spoke in favour of introducing drawback duties on silk, 1 May, and against relaxing restrictions on the use of the cadavers of murderers and poor felons for dissection, 15 May 1829. (In 1823, the removal of a pauper’s body for anatomical research had caused a disturbance at Haverfordwest.)15 As mayor of Haverfordwest, on 3 Oct. 1829 Philipps chaired a meeting and encouraged petitioning against the proposed abolition of the Welsh judicature and courts of great sessions; for, as Cawdor had suggested, it was envisaged that Pembrokeshire business would be dealt with in Carmarthen, so depriving Haverfordwest of its assize town status. Philipps clashed again with Cawdor on the issue at a noisy county meeting on 6 Oct. 1829.16 When the administration of justice bill proposing the changes came before the House, Philipps presented and endorsed Haverfordwest’s hostile petition, 6 May, and voted in the minority against the bill’s recommittal, 18 June 1830.17 A late government amendment left the assize structure almost intact when the change was enacted, 23 July. He divided against enfranchising Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., but with the revived Whig opposition against the Bathurst and Dundas pensions, 26 Mar. He voted against Jewish emancipation, 17 May.18 He voted against the sale of beer bill’s provisions for on-consumption, 21 June. Haverfordwest returned him unopposed at the general election in August 1830.19

Ministers listed Philipps among the ‘good doubtfuls’, but later amended the entry to ‘enemy’. He was absent from the division on the civil list when they were brought down, 15 Nov., but presented petitions from Haverfordwest and north Pembrokeshire for the abolition of West Indian slavery, 21 Nov. 1830. He divided for the Grey ministry’s reform bill at its second reading, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr., but failed to find an opportunity to present the Pembrokeshire reform petition entrusted to him (5 Apr.) before the dissolution, 23 Apr. 1831.20 Even so, Carmarthen reformers feted him on his journey to Haverfordwest, where his re-election was certain. Opposing Sir John Owen* in the county, he canvassed for and nominated the reformer Robert Fulke Greville of Castle Hall, the purchaser of certain Milford estates whose interest in yachting he shared, and liaised throughout with Cawdor’s and Lord Kensington’s† friends.21 He subscribed generously to Greville’s cause, petitioned with him against Owen’s return, and objected in Parliament, 8 July 1831, to the delaying tactics used to prevent the petition being heard. He was not called to testify before the committee which declared the election void, but they considered his conduct at the election and named him in their report.22

He voted for the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July, and consistently for its details, including the enfranchisement of Merthyr as a contributory borough of Cardiff, which Welsh reformers criticized as inadequate, 10 Aug. 1831. He divided for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish reform bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He adopted a lower profile during the second Pembrokeshire election when Owen again prevailed, but gave his interest and financial support to Greville as previously.23 He divided for the revised reform bill at its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, for the schedule A disfranchisements, 23 Jan., to retain Helston in schedule B, 23 Feb., to enfranchise Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted for the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry it unimpaired, 10 May 1832. Although his votes on the reform bills were well publicized, his views on its provision to make Fishguard and Narberth contributory boroughs of Haverfordwest and an earlier proposal to add Milford, Newport and St. Davids to the district are not known.24 He divided with government on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug. 1831, information on Portugal, 9 Feb., and the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July, but against them on the vestry bill, 23 Jan., for printing the radical Woollen Grange petition for the abolition of Irish tithes, 16 Feb., and against their temporizing amendment to Fowell Buxton’s motion for a select committee on colonial slavery, 24 May 1832, a vote praised by his constituents and the Welsh Nonconformist press.25 He reminded the House that as a select committee was still sitting, it was too soon to move any resolutions on factory regulation, 7 June 1832.

After a thorough canvass of the new Haverfordwest district constituency he was returned unopposed as a Liberal at the general election in December 1832.26 In December 1834, Peel’s kinsman, Jonathan Peel of Cotts, capitalized on Philipps’s scant attention to his parliamentary duties and almost permanent absence on the continent and challenged him at Haverfordwest, causing him to withdraw and transfer his interest to Scourfield, the victor at the 1835 general election.27 Dissatisfaction with Scourfield’s politics induced Philipps to stand successfully against him in 1837, and despite allegations that he was ‘a nonentity ... whose Whig label was as false as his adopted name’, he retained the seat until he was elevated to the peerage in 1847 on Lord John Russell’s* recommendation.28 The previous year, he had petitioned the Lords unsuccessfully for leave to bring in a bill to overrule a directive in Milford’s will which prevented him granting long leases to facilitate coal mining in Saundersfoot.29 He died childless and intestate at Picton Castle in January 1857, and was buried at Haverfordwest with all the pomp due to a major landowner and freemason.30 His stepfather wrote: ‘Poor fellow, he has been cut off in the midst of his years without having done or enjoyed half the good he might have done’.31 The peerage was extinguished by his death and, as stipulated in his late uncle Milford’s will, the Picton Castle estate passed to his half-brother, the Rev. James Henry Alexander Gwyther (d. 1875), who took the name of Philipps. In February 1848 administration and a half share in his personal estate, worth between £45,000 and £50,000, was granted to his widow (d. 1909), who had married Thomas Joseph Eyre of Upper Court, co. Kilkenny.32

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. CP.
  • 2. M. Philipps, Philipps of Picton Castle, 26-27; NLW, Picton Castle mss 948; Pemb. RO D/RTP/HAM/175; PP (1835), xxiii. 371.
  • 3. Add. 40359, ff. 100, 183-6, 205; Picton Castle mss 4731.
  • 4. PROB 11/1681/96.
  • 5. Pemb. RO D/RTP/HAM/175; Picton Castle mss 4793; Bodl. Clarendon dep. C.372, bdle. 2, Harvey to Foster Barham, 23 Oct 1824; NLW, Lucas mss 1174.
  • 6. Pemb. RO D/RTP, Picton Castle Estate mss 1/84; Carm. RO, Cawdor mss 2/209; Clarendon dep. C.372, bdle. 2, Harvey to Foster Barham, 19 Oct. 1825; Add. 40359, f. 184.
  • 7. Picton Castle mss 600; Cambrian, 6 Jan.; Carmarthen Jnl. 12 Jan. 1827.
  • 8. Carmarthen Jnl. 26 May, 2, 16 June; Cambrian, 17, 24 June 1826.
  • 9. Picton Castle mss 4098, 4728; Add. 40363, f. 103.
  • 10. Seren Gomer, x (1827), 125.
  • 11. Picton Castle mss 600; Carmarthen Jnl. 2, 23, Nov., 21 Dec. 1827.
  • 12. Bucks. RO, Buckinghamshire mss, Goderich to Geo. IV, Nov. 1827; Picton Castle mss 4962, 4963.
  • 13. Carmarthen Jnl. 8 Aug., 28 Dec. 1828.
  • 14. Cambrian, 7, 21 Mar., 11, 25 Apr.; The Times, 10 Mar.; Carmarthen Jnl. 17 Apr. 1829.
  • 15. Carmarthen Jnl. 13 June 1823.
  • 16. Cambrian, 10, 17 Oct. 1829; PP (1829), ix. passim.
  • 17. Carmarthen Jnl. 30 Apr., 7 May; The Times, 22 June 1830.
  • 18. Pemb. Herald, 9 Jan. 1857.
  • 19. Carmarthen Jnl. 16, 23, 30 July, 6 Aug. 1830.
  • 20. Seren Gomer, xiv (1831), 155; Carmarthen Jnl. 8 Apr.; Cambrian, 9 Apr. 1831.
  • 21. Carmarthen Jnl. 23 July 1830, 15, 22, 29 Apr., 6, 13 May; Cambrian, 23, 30 Apr., 7, 14 May 1831; D. Williams, ‘Pemb. Election of 1831’, WHR, i (1960-3), 42-52; Clarendon dep. C.372, bdle. 6, Harvey to Foster Barham, 11 June 1831.
  • 22. NLW, Eaton Evans and Williams mss 4593; D. Williams, WHR, i. 52-55; CJ, lxxxvi. 608-9, 633, 688, 744, 843-4, 863-4; The Times, 17, 19 Sept. 1831; PP (1831), iv. 585.
  • 23. Carmarthen Jnl. 29 Oct. 1831; Eaton Evans and Williams mss 5121.
  • 24. Seren Gomer, xv (1832), 26-27, 157, 189; D.A. Wager, ‘Welsh Politics and Parl. Reform, 1780-1835’, WHR, vii (1974-5), 440-1.
  • 25. Greal y Bedyddwyr, vi (1832), 252.
  • 26. Carmarthen Jnl. 7, 14 Dec.; Cambrian, 15 Dec. 1832.
  • 27. Carmarthen Jnl. 12, 19, 26 Dec.; Welshman, 19, 26 Dec.; Cambrian, 20 Dec. 1834; The Times, 6 Jan. 1835.
  • 28. Pemb. RO D/RTP, Sir R.B.P. Philipps mss 5/33, 34; Welshman, 30 June, 7, 14 July, The Times, 5, 12, 13 July 1837; D. Jones, Rebecca’s Children, 88; Picton Castle mss 4800.
  • 29. Picton Castle mss 1557, 1749, 4116, 4562, 4563.
  • 30. Cambrian, 2, 9 Jan. 1857; Welshman, 27 Jan. 1843, 16 Jan. 1857; Picton Castle mss 4643.
  • 31. Picton Castle mss 2074.
  • 32. Ibid. 1558; IR26/3293/101.