PHILIPPS, Sir Richard, 7th Bt., 1st Baron Milford [I] (?1744-1823), of Picton Castle, Pemb.
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Family and Education
b. ?1744,1 o.s. of Sir John Philipps, 6th Bt.†, of Picton Castle by Elizabeth, da. of Henry Shepherd of London. educ. Pembroke, Oxf. 3 Feb. 1761, aged 18. m. 2 June 1764, his cos. Mary, da. of James Philipps of Pentypark, Pemb., s.p. suc. fa. as 7th Bt. 23 June 1764; cr. Baron Milford [I] 22 July 1776.
Custos rot. Haverfordwest, 1764-70; ld. lt. Haverfordwest 1770-d.; ld. lt. and custos rot. Pemb. 1786-d.
Col. Pemb. militia 1786-98; capt. Dungleddy yeoman cav. 1794, maj. commdt. 1798, lt.-col. commdt. 1798.
Lord Milford was the last in the male line of the Philipps family of Picton Castle, with an estate of 20,000 acres in Pembrokeshire. After contesting the county with Sir Hugh Owen, 5th Bt., of Orielton, he obtained its representation and the lieutenancy on Sir Hugh’s death in 1786, restoring thereupon to Lord Kensington the seat for Haverfordwest, in which he also had a dominant interest.2 His main object was thought to be a promotion in the peerage, although he had no issue, and his professed attachment to the King and government did not prevent him from voting with opposition occasionally. Thomas Knox† of Llanstinan, who wished Milford to have a British peerage to promote his own ambitions for a seat, noted about 1790 that Milford was ‘of no use to government’. On 12 Apr. 1791 he voted with opposition on the Oczakov resolutions, apparently his first minority vote since 1785. He had not voted on the Regency and the Treasury were doubtful of him before the election. The dissenters’ lobby were equally doubtful of him in 1791. He made no mark in debate. On 30 Aug. 1795, George Rose wrote of him, ‘Lord Milford has not applied for anything during the last 4 or 5 years; he has indeed either been in opposition or has not attended’.3 On 12 May 1797 he brought up the report of the Canterbury election committee. He opposed the land tax redemption bill, 23 Apr. 1798, and voted for Buxton’s amendment to the effect that there should be no new land tax without a tax on all property, 18 May. On 22 June 1798 he supported Cavendish’s motion on Ireland.
This outburst of opposition was very likely prompted by his failure to obtain peerage promotion. In reply to Pitt’s circular letter requesting attendance at the beginning of the first session of the 1796 Parliament, he had written, 16 Sept.:
This is a period when every man attached to his King and constitution should step forward in their support; and you may be assured, Sir, that however unsuccessful I have of late been in application to you both for myself or friends I shall be always ready to render you every parliamentary assistance in my power.
He added that he could raise hundreds of infantry for yeoman fencibles if required.4 Then, on the occasion of the French landing in Pembrokeshire, January 1797, Milford, as lord lieutenant, was officially responsible for dealing with the invaders, though the initiative soon passed to Lord Cawdor. Sir Watkin Lewes*, writing to Pitt on 27 Mar. with the county seat in mind, suggested that Milford deserved a British peerage for his ‘exertions’ against the French and for his services to and support of government. The suggestion was taken up by the newspapers. On 11 Apr. Milford wrote to Pitt to inform him that Lord Kensington was not expected to live and that he could secure the return of ‘any friend’ of Pitt’s for Haverfordwest as a token of his willingness to be of service. On 10 Mar. 1798 he informed Pitt that he wished for an Irish earldom:
The attachment I have ever shown to his Majesty, and the endeavours I have ever made to promote his interest in the county of Pembroke where he has been pleased to place me as his lord lieutenant will I hope entitle me to his Majesty’s notice and favour.5
The failure of this application and of another for a British peerage from Addington before the election of 1802, through Joseph Foster Barham*, to be traded for the county seat, seems to have been the last straw. His language became positively Foxite: his conduct, as usual, was less explicit. He appeared in opposition to Addington on Grey’s censure motion, 25 Mar. 1801, and, after absence from the House in 1802, on Calcraft’s motion for inquiry into the Prince of Wales’s debts, 4 Mar., and on negotiations with France, 24 May 1803. On Pitt’s return to power he appeared against the additional force bill, 18 June 1804, and the Pittites listed him ‘doubtful’ in May and September of that year. Pitt’s niece, Lady Hester Stanhope, ‘heard a person say that a Lord Milford was just the sort of man to give his vote to Mr P[itt] from being asked to dinner’, but he was reckoned ‘doubtful opposition’ in July 1805: he had voted with the majority for the criminal prosecution of Lord Melville, 12 June. He went on to support Lord Grenville’s ministry and voted for Lyttelton’s motion against their dismissal in April 1807: after the ensuing general election he was present at a dinner attended by supporters of the late ministry.6
Although he was listed one of their ‘thick and thin’ supporters by the Whigs in 1810 when they attempted to get him to muster on the Scheldt question,7 not a single minority vote cast by him in the Parliament of 1807 has been found, the most obvious reason for this being Milford’s ill health. He had been too ill to canvass in the election of 1807, when for the first time his return was contested, by Sir Hugh Owen*, standing as a ‘protestant champion’: he had to rely on Lord Kensington to fight for him. He was accused of clinging to a seat he had agreed to relinquish when the heir of Orielton came of age, by which time he was quoted as having said he would be ‘an old man, and in all probability would be tired of sitting in Parliament’, or else could slip into his borough of Haverfordwest.8 He was successful then, but when the Orielton challenge was renewed in anticipation of the next election, he agreed to stand down, November 1811, in favour of Lord Cawdor’s son John Frederick Campbell*, who was nevertheless defeated.9 He made no attempt to return to Parliament. His wish that his young heir at law Richard Bulkeley Philipps Grant might, when of age, obtain a seat for Haverfordwest was eventually realized. Milford died 28 Nov. 1823. Lord Cawdor, often exasperated by Milford’s obtuseness as lord lieutenant, remarked of him that he was ‘really much too insignificant to quarrel with and public rebuke will not mend him’.10
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. He was evidently born at Kilgetty, but his baptism is not recorded in St. Issells par. reg.
- 2. R. D. Rees, ‘Parl. Rep. S. Wales 1790-1830’ (Reading Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1962), ii. 441.
- 3. HMC Var. vi. 212; PRO 30/8/173, f. 260.
- 4. PRO 30/8/158, f. 149.
- 5. E. H. Stuart Jones, Last Invasion of Britain ; PRO 30/8/152, f. 69; 158, ff. 151, 153; Oracle, 29 Mar. 1797.
- 6. PRO, Dacres Adams mss 9/61; Morning Chron. 22 June 1807; J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1808), App. ix.
- 7. Blair Adam mss, Loch to Adam, 21 Jan. 1810.
- 8. Cambrian, 9, 16 May 1807; Carm. RO, 1 Cawdor 130, Philipps to Milford, 4 May 1807.
- 9. Cambrian, 21 Sept., 23 Nov. 1811.
- 10. Carm. RO, 1 Cawdor 129, Cawdor to Greville, 9 Sept. 1803.