PHILIPPS, James (c.1624-74), of The Priory, Cardigan.
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Family and Education
b. c.1624, 1st surv. s. of Hector Philipps of The Priory, and bro. of Hector Philipps. m. (1) Frances (d. c. Dec. 1647), da. of Sir Richard Philipps, 2nd Bt., of Picton, Pemb., 1s. 1da. d.v.p.; (2) lic. 23 Aug. 1648, aged 24, Katherine (d. 22 June 1664), da. of John Fowler, merchant, of Bucklersbury, London, 1s. d.v.p. 1da.; (3) Jane (d.1673), da. of Sir Rice Rudd, 1st Bt., of Aberglasney, Carm., wid. of James ap Rice of Scotsborough, Pemb., and James Lewes of Abernantbychan, Card., s.p. suc. fa. 1657.1
Commr. for assessment, Card. 1647-52, Pemb. 1649-52, Card. and Pemb. 1657, Jan. 1660, Card. Aug. 1660-1, 1673-d., militia Card. 1648, Mar. 1660; sheriff, Card. 1649-50, Pemb. 1650-1; commr. for sequestrations, S. Wales 1649, propagation of the Gospel 1650; j.p. Card. and Pemb. 1650-?July 1660, Carm. 1650-Mar. 1660, Haverfordwest 1655-9; custos rot. Card. 1650-?Mar. 1660, Pemb. by 1656-?July 1660; commr. for security, S. Wales 1655-6, common councilman, Haverfordwest 1656-?62, mayor 1656-7.2
Member, High Court of Justice 1651, 1654; commr. for army 1653-7.
Philipps claimed kinship with the Pembrokeshire family. But his ancestors were of no consequence before the middle of the 16th century, and Cardigan Priory was acquired only in 1616. None of the family played any known part in the Civil War; but under the Commonwealth Philipps became one of the leading figures in South Wales and served on two High Courts of Justice, including that which convicted John Gerard of conspiracy to assassinate the Protector. Supported by the Presbyterian corporation, he was a strong candidate for Haverfordwest in 1660, but withdrew in favour of his less prominent ‘kinsman’, William Philipps. There is no evidence that he was opposed in Cardigan Boroughs, but his return was delayed, probably until July, owing to the miscarriage of the writ. An inactive member of the Convention, he made no recorded speeches and sat on no committees. He is described in a contemporary pamphlet as
one that had the fortune to be in with all times, but thrived by none, an argument that covetousness (the root of all evil) was not the motive for him to undertake employments. His genius is to undertake public affairs, regarding sometimes more the employment than the authority from whom he received the same. He hath done much good and is ill rewarded by those he deserved most of; but they were principally such as were perfidious and ungrateful to most they were obliged unto.3
In 1661, Philipps was opposed by the royalist Sir Francis Lloyd, but he was returned to the Cavalier Parliament where he was again totally inactive. His position was difficult, and it was only through the intervention of Sir Charles Cotterell that he escaped penalty for his part in the preceding regime. On 27 June 1661 information was given to the House that Philipps as a member of the High Court of Justice was present when Gerard was sentenced to death. He was suspended from sitting, and a committee appointed to hear evidence. Arthur Owen was made responsible for Philipps’s further appearance when the House directed. He was able to prove that he had left London for Wales after the first day of Gerard’s trial, and on 13 Feb. 1662 he was allowed to resume his seat. Evidence of the strain he had undergone appears in a poem addressed to him by his wife on 16 Mar.
My dear Antenor, now give o’er,
For my sake talk of graves no more; ...
And since the Parliament have rescu’d you,
Believe that Providence will do so too.
However, on 30 Apr. the election was declared void on a technicality. At the subsequent by-election, Philipps used his influence in Cardigan to secure the return of his royalist friend, Cotterell, thus preserving the family interest in the town. He died on 2 May 1674 and was buried in St. Mary’s Church, Cardigan.4