PHELIPS, Sir Edward (1638-99), of Montacute, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1661 - Jan. 1679
1685 - 1687
1690 - 1695
1698 - 4 Apr. 1699

Family and Education

bap. 26 Sept. 1638, 1st s. of Edward Phelips† of Montacute by Anne, da. of Sir Robert Pye† of Farringdon, Berks.  m. (1) 1667, Dorothy (d. 1678), da. and h. of Henry Cheeke of West Newton, Som., wid. of John Bury of Colliton, Devon, s.p.; (2) c.1683, Edith (d. 1728), da. and h. of John Blake, ironmonger, of Langport, Som., 3da.  Kntd. by 24 Apr. 1660; suc. fa. 1679.1

Offices Held

Jt. auditor of excise, Som. 1662; high steward of Ilchester 1679–d.; steward of crown manors, Som. 1680–?d.; v.-adm. Som. 1690–6.2


A zealous Tory, Phelips, who had fought against Monmouth and refused the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, had earned a reputation for great severity as a deputy-lieutenant, which had caused the Earl of Shrewsbury to question the wisdom of his being promoted a colonel of militia in 1689. Despite this unpopularity he successfully contested Somerset in 1690, when he was described as ‘the pillar of the Western Church’. There was an outcry among Somerset’s Tory gentry when he was omitted from the reconstituted lieutenancy in 1690 and, according to a Whig commentator, it was represented as of ‘ill consequence to the Church as ever the landing of the French would have been’. Although Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) issued immediate orders for his inclusion, he was not formally reinstated in the lieutenancy until May 1691. At the commencement of the new Parliament he was listed by Carmarthen as a Tory and possible Court supporter. On 15 Feb. 1693 he acted as a teller in a minor question concerning the bill for preventing the decay of trade. Despite the vigour of his opinions in county affairs, he made no impact in the Commons, but, if anything, acquired a reputation for absenteeism. On 12 Feb. 1694 he was granted leave to go into the country for three weeks. When he had not returned in time for the call of the House on 14 Mar. he was ordered to be sent for in the custody of the serjeant-at-arms. In the next session, when he was again absent from a call of the House on 14 Feb. 1695, a motion that he be excused was defeated and he again had to pay a fine to be discharged from custody.3

Phelips did not stand in 1695, and the next year, upon a complaint from the Admiralty, was removed from both the vice-admiralty of Somerset and the commission of the peace. Such treatment may have enabled him to pose as a victim of Court hostility in the 1698 election when he regained his seat as knight of the shire. He was classed as a supporter of the Country party in a list drawn up in around September. Granted leave of absence on 3 Feb. 1699 for health reasons, he died on 4 Apr. at Montacute and and was buried at the church there. Having no male issue, the estate passed to his nephew, Edward Phelips*, who was also his son-in-law.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. Harbin, Som. MPs, 181; Burke, LG; Collinson, Som. iii. 314–15; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 124, 861; Som. RO, Phelips mss DD/PH 224/36, 38.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 382; ix. 1553; x. 46; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 156; Phelips mss DD/PH 224/61.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1689–90, pp. 202–3; Locke Corresp. ed. de Beer iv. 17; Som. RO, Sanford mss DD/SF 3902, Edward Clarke* to [–], 25 Aug. 1690; CSP Dom. 1690–1, p. 358.
  • 4. L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 125, 127; Collinson, 314; Luttrell, iv. 156; Top. and Gen. iii. 30.