PHIPPS, Hon. Edmund (1760-1837), of Mulgrave Castle, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



19 Sept. 1794 - 1818
1818 - 1820
30 May 1820 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 7 Apr. 1760, 4th s. of Constantine Phipps, 1st Baron Mulgrave [I], by Lepell, da. of John Hervey, Lord Hervey; bro. of Hon. Henry Phipps*. educ. Eton 1771-3; St. John’s, Camb. 1778-80. unm.

Offices Held

Ensign, 85 Ft. 1780; lt. 88 Ft. 1780; lt. 93 Ft. 1781, capt. 1782; a.d.c. to gov. Gibraltar 1782; half-pay 1783; capt. 1 Ft. Gds. 1784; a.d.c. to ld. lt. [I] 1784-7; lt-col. 1 Ft. Gds. 1793, brevet col. 1796; maj.-gen. 1801, lt.-gen. 1808; col. commdt. 60 Ft. 1807-d.; gen. 1819.

Paymaster of marines Jan. 1810-1812, clerk of deliveries at the Ordnance Oct. 1812-30.


An unusually close bond of affection existed between Phipps and his elder brother Henry, 3rd Lord Mulgrave. Their military careers followed a similar pattern and Phipps, a bachelor, lived at Mulgrave for much of his life.1 He succeeded to the family seat for Scarborough on his brother’s elevation to the British peerage.

Like his brother, Phipps regarded himself as a personal friend of Pitt. His support of Pitt’s administration in his first two Parliaments was confined to intervals in active service. His entry into Parliament had been postponed because he was serving in Flanders. In 1799 he was at Madeira. No contribution to debate is known until 5 Apr. 1803 when he called Sheridan to order for a disparaging reference to Pitt. On 3 June 1803 he supported Pitt’s question for the orders of the day and on 2 Aug. Fox’s amendment for a council of generals. Listed Pitt’s adherent in March 1804, he voted in opposition to Addington on the defence divisions of 23 and 25 Apr. He supported Pitt’s second ministry, in which his brother joined the cabinet, voting against the censure of Melville, 8 Apr. 1805. In October of that year he was reported as exulting in Pitt’s ability to carry on without recruiting extra support, thanks to the King’s firmness. Thomas Grenville quoting him on this described him as ‘one of the most familiar and confidential inmates of the Treasury’.2

Phipps, mourning his loss, joined Pitt’s friends in their quarrel with the Grenville ministry, voting against Ellenborough’s cabinet seat, 3 Mar. 1806, against the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr., and against the American intercourse bill, 17 June. In defiance of ministers he supported the vote of thanks to the volunteers, 11 July. He was listed ‘adverse’ to the abolition of the slave trade. He supported the Portland ministry, in which his brother obtained the Admiralty. Phipps was said to have considerable influence over him.3 On 24 July 1807 he advocated English support of the Irish insurrection bill and on 28 July spoke on the militia transfer bill. He questioned witnesses in the Duke of York’s case, February 1809, but played down the report that the Military Club intended to present a commendatory address to the duke to flout his critics, 17 Mar. In January 1810 his brother secured him the office of paymaster of the marines on the disgrace of George Villiers*.4 He stood by Perceval’s ministry that session, being listed ‘against the Opposition’ by the Whigs. His votes of 16 Apr., 17 and 21 May indicated his hostility to radicalism and reform. He opposed the reception of Captain Foskett’s petition reflecting on the conduct of the Duke of Cumberland, 18 Apr., 10 May. On 4 Feb. 1811 he was chosen for the conference with the Lords on the Regency bill. His appearance in the minority on the royal household bill, 27 Jan. 1812, was an accident: he was shut out on his way to join the majority. (It did not matter: William Smith, an opposition Member, was likewise shut in with the majority.)5 He voted against the abolition of McMahon’s sinecure, 21, 24 Feb., against sinecure reform, 4 May, and on 21 May against a more efficient administration, on Stuart Wortley’s motion. In debate he denied that flogging was carried to excess in the army, 13 Mar., and advocated officers being lodged in barracks with their men, 1 May.

Phipps’s brother, on exchanging the Admiralty for the Ordnance in 1810, intended him to be his secretary;6 in October 1812 he was appointed clerk of the deliveries in the department. Listed a Treasury supporter, except for one speech in defence of his brother, 12 May 1817, he was silent in debate between then and 1820. He followed his brother’s line of supporting Catholic relief steadily, and voted in favour of Christian missions to India, 22 June, 1 July 1813. He could be relied on to muster on all critical divisions. He paired against inquiry into criminal law reform, 2 Mar. 1819. He was still in town, 23 Dec. 1819, supporting measures against radicalism. In 1818 he made way for his nephew at Scarborough and came in on the Ordnance interest for Queenborough. His brother subsequently resigned the Ordnance and in 1820 Phipps did not stand for re-election. His nephew’s espousal of opposition politics led to his brother’s restoring him to the Scarborough seat soon afterwards.7

Phipps suffered a paralysis of hands and arms in 1797 after ‘drinking bad sherry when in regimental quarters, in which white lead was infused’. He never fully regained the use of his right arm, which ‘hung down like the fin of a turtle’ and earned him the nickname of ‘the Governor of Finland’.

A gentleman of great accomplishments and information, he associated ... with all the men of talent and genius of the day. He himself possessed literary powers of no mean character, and a taste and judgment of no inferior quality. He was always gay and cheerful in society, a kind friend, a hospitable host, and an agreeable companion.

He died in Venice, 14 Sept. 1837.8

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Winifred Stokes / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. H. P. Phipps, Phipps Fam. Hist. i. 103-4.
  • 2. Buckingham, Court and Cabinets, iii. 442.
  • 3. Farington, iii. 140-1, 209, 244; v. 176.
  • 4. Geo. III Corresp. v. 4064.
  • 5. Morning Chron. 28 Jan. 1812.
  • 6. HMC Hastings, iii. 279.
  • 7. Farington, viii. 261.
  • 8. Raikes Jnl. iii. 234; Gent. Mag. (1837), ii. 530.