PHELIPS, Edward (1725-97), of Montacute, Som.
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Family and Education
b. c.Mar. 1725, 1st Mar. 1725, 1st s. of Edward Phelips, M.P. for Somerset, by his 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of his uncle Sir Edward Phelips, M.P. educ. Westminster, Feb. 1737, aged 11; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 23 Apr. 1741, aged 16. m. c.1747, Maria, da. of William Wright, 4s. 3da. suc. fa. May 1734.
The Phelips family, settled at Montacute since the Middle Ages, had sat in Parliament in the 16th and 17th centuries, and Edward Phelips was the fifth to represent Somerset. He was returned unopposed. The Public Ledger wrote about him in 1779:
Votes constantly with the ministry, and seems much fitter for parish or turnpike business, than to be the representative of a great county in Parliament.
The statement that he voted ‘constantly’ with the Government is certainly inaccurate: his name appears in the minority lists over Wilkes, 22 Feb. 1775, and the civil list debts, 18 Apr. 1778; but in this Parliament there is no extant division list earlier than March 1779 giving the names on the Government side. Still, over the contractors bill, 12 Feb. 1779, Robinson classed him as ‘contra, present, friend’, which suggests that so far he had as a rule voted with the Government. After this he appears in four out of six division lists giving the names on both sides, always voting with the Opposition: over Keppel, 3 Mar. 1779; the motion for an account of pensions, 21 Feb. 1780; Dunning’s motion on the influence of the Crown, 6 Apr.; and on the motion against prorogation, 24 Apr. 1780. Robinson, in his electoral survey of July 1780, listed him as Opposition. There is no record of his having spoken in the House. He did not stand again in 1780, and died in 1797.