PHELIPS, (PHILLIPS), Edward II (1638-99), of Montacute, Som.
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Family and Education
bap. 26 Sept. 1638, 1st s. of Edward Phelips I. m. (1) c.1667, Dorothy (d. 19 Nov. 1678), da. and h. of Henry Cheeke of West Newton, North Petherton, Som., wid. of John Bury of Colleton Barton, Chulmleigh, Devon, s.p.; (2) c.1683, Edith, da. and h. of John Blake, ironmonger, of Langport, Som., 3da. Kntd. by 24 Apr. 1666, suc. fa. 1680.1
Lt. of militia horse, Som. by 1661, lt.-col. 1666, colt. by 1679-87, ?1689-96; commr. for assessment 1661-80, 1689-90, corporations 1662-3, j.p. 1662-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-Jan. 1690, Mar. 1690-6, jt. auditor of excise 1662, commr. for recusants 1675; high steward, Ilchester 1679-d.; steward of crown manors, Som. 1680-?d., dep. lt. 1680-7, 1689-96, foreman of grand jury 1680, chairman of quarter sessions 1681-Jan. 1688, v.-adm. 1690-6.2
Phelips was returned at the general election of 1661 for the family borough of Ilchester, four miles north of Montacute. Until his knighthood his parliamentary record cannot be securely distinguished from those of his father and uncle; but he seems to have been inactive, serving on only 20 committees throughout the Cavalier Parliament, though he took a leading part in the work of the commission for corporations and the persecution of nonconformists in the country. He was appointed to the committee for the uniformity bill, but not to any other committees dealing with the Clarendon Code, and he probably sided with the country Cavaliers during this administration. He appears, nevertheless, to have been on particularly close terms with his uncle, and perhaps shared in his fenland investments. Personal animosity arising out of this venture may explain his only tellership, against a motion to excuse Henry Williams for absence from the House on 14 Feb. 1671. By this time he could be included by Sir Thomas Osborne among those Members who usually voted for supply. He was appointed to the committee on the bill for the better observance of Charles I’s martyrdom in 1673. Shaftesbury marked him ‘worthy’ in 1677, but on 18 Dec. 1678 he was ordered to be sent for as a defaulter.3
Phelips was very active in the county at both elections of 1679. A local dissenting minister wrote some months later that those who ‘appeared against Sir Edward at the last election have ever since had but little quiet, where it has been in his power to trouble them’. As foreman of the grand jury, he presented a true bill against Dare, the leader of the Taunton radicals, in April 1680, and he was ordered into custody as an Abhorrer on 8 Jan. 1681. Nevertheless he forwarded a loyal address from quarter sessions on 16 July. He was described in 1682 as ‘very successful in bringing nonconformists to Church’. With Sir Francis Warre he assisted Ralph Stawell to search the houses of ‘fanatics’ in Bridgwater after the Rye House Plot and to burn the furnishings of their chapel. The King commended his zeal, but cautioned him against arbitrary searches. He was returned in 1685 for Ilchester, where his brother had been elected bailiff. He was appointed to the committee to recommend expunctions from the Journals and acted as teller for giving leave to Edward Meller to bring in an estate bill. He was then ordered to his militia command to resist the Duke of Monmouth’s invasion; but in spite of his careful training, his men would not follow him against the Duke of Monmouth. To the lord lieutenant’s questions in 1687 he gave the lead to ten other justices and deputy lieutenants in declaring ‘they know not how they may change their opinion upon hearing the debates, but at present are not for taking away the Test and the Penal Laws’. He refused to commit his vote at the election, but agreed to live ‘friendly with those of all persuasions’. At the next quarter sessions, however, he supported Thomas Wyndham II against a leading Whig collaborator. ‘Being the spokesman, with most outrageous fury that he foamed at the mouth’, Phelips fined the sheriff £100 for permitting the escape of his bailiff, who had been committed for scandalizing the justice of the Bloody Assizes. He was summoned before the Privy Council to defend his conduct, and removed from the commission of the peace. He advised the Ilchester corporation against surrendering their charter, and was alleged to be making an interest there against the court candidates. He signed the Somerset declaration in favour of William of Orange, but was not elected to the Convention. When his longstanding political associate Lord Fitzhardinge (Sir Maurice Berkeley) proposed him as colonel of the Somerset militia again after the Revolution, the Earl of Shrewsbury hinted that ‘the country is generally unwilling to serve under [him], remembering the severities used by him towards them, which were different from the carriage of all others who are in command’. Shrewsbury admitted that he could not judge the truth of these allegations, which no doubt proceeded from John Trenchard, and they were probably ignored. Phelips was returned for the county at the next election, and again in 1698, though he had meantime been removed from local office for refusing the Association. He died on 4 Apr. 1699, and was buried at Montacute. His nephew sat for Ilchester under Queen Anne as a Tory, and was knight of the shire in George I’s last Parliament.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Irene Cassidy
- 1. Mems. St. Margaret Westminster, 158; Collinson, Som. iii. 315; Som. RO, DD/PH 224/36; Vivian, Vis. Devon. 124, 861; CSP Dom. July-Sept. 1683, p. 308.
- 2. Som. Arch. Soc. Proc. xxvii. 16; Wells corp. act. bk. 1662-5; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 382; vii. 404; Som. RO, DD/PH 199; CSP Dom. 1679-80, pp. 62, 428; 1680-1, p. 360; 1683-4, p. 140; 1689-90, p. 202; Ind. 24557.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 539; 1665-6, p. 273.
- 4. Ibid. 1680-1, pp. 360, 689; 1682, p. 145; July-Sept. 1683, pp. 60, 184; 1685, pp. 180, 187; 1687-9, p. 134; 1689-90, pp. 302-3; Som. RO, DD/PH223/110; CJ, ix. 702, 721; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 404; HMC Sackville, i. 1-2; HMC 6th Rep. 347; PC2/76, f. 309.