PHIPPS, Hon. Henry (1755-1831), 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



1784 - 1790
1790 - 13 Aug. 1794

Family and Education

b. 14 Feb. 1755, 3rd s. of Constantine Phipps, 1st Baron Mulgrave [I], and bro. of Hon. Edmund Phipps*. educ. Eton 1767-71; M. Temple 1772. m. 20 Oct. 1795, Martha Sophia, da. of Christopher Thompson Maling of West Herrington, co. Dur., 4s. 5da. suc. bro. as 3rd Baron Mulgrave [I] 10 Oct. 1792; cr. Baron Mulgrave [GB] 13 Aug. 1794; Earl of Mulgrave [UK] 7 Sept. 1812; GCB 20 May 1820.

Offices Held

Ensign, 1 Ft. Gds. 1775, lt. and capt. 1778; maj. 85 Ft. 1779; lt.-col. 88 Ft. 1780, 45 Ft. 1782; capt. and lt.-col. 1 Ft. Gds. 1783, brevet col. 1790; col. 31 Ft. 1793-d.; brig.-gen. and lt.-gov. Toulon 1793; maj.-gen. 1794; gov. Scarborough Castle 1796-d.; lt.-gen. 1801, gen. 1809.

PC 6 June 1804; chancellor of duchy of Lancaster June 1804-Jan. 1805; sec. of state for Foreign affairs Jan. 1805-Feb. 1806; first ld. of Admiralty Apr. 1807-May 1810; master gen. of Ordnance May 1810-1818.

Ld. lt. E. Riding, Yorks. 1807-24.


Phipps consistently supported Pitt during his ten years in the Commons, transferring in 1790 to a seat on the family interest. He was a ready enough debater. He justified the army estimates and defended the convention with Spain, 10, 14 Dec. 1790. He opposed the resumption of the impeachment of Warren Hastings, 14 Feb. 1791. He justified the war against Tipu in India, 2 Mar. 1791, 15 and 28 Mar. 1792, carrying a motion of approbation of Lord Cornwallis on the latter date. He opposed the abolition of the slave trade, 18, 19 Apr. 1791, denying tales of cruelty to slaves from his own experience in Jamaica, but not denying that there was scope for more humanity. He warned, 25 Apr. 1792, that abolition would cost the taxpayer dear in terms of compensation. In April 1791 he was listed among opponents of repeal of the Test Act in Scotland. He came to Edmund Burke’s rescue against Whig hecklers in the debate on the Quebec bill, 6 May 1791, and several times acted as government teller on major divisions. On 12 Mar. 1792 he spoke up for officers whose accounts with government were in arrears, in the debate on army accountancy. There had been reports two months before that he was to succeed Sir George Yonge* as secretary at war.1

On 4 Jan. 1793 Lord Mulgrave (as he now was, having succeeded his brother) was a champion of the aliens bill. He read out and criticized the resolutions of the Friends of the Freedom of the Press, claiming that ‘the abominable doctrines of equality’ had produced in France a far more arbitrary government than the British constitution would allow of. He vindicated the introduction of barracks, 22 Feb. 1793. When his elder brother, an Irish peer, obtained a British peerage in 1790, he had failed to obtain a reversion of it in Phipps’s favour. After more than one unsuccessful application, he complained to Pitt on 20 May 1793 that this honour had been granted to Lord Auckland and not to himself.

I cannot forget how long I have been upon a footing, something nearer to private friendship than a mere political connexion and how much I have endeavoured to prove zealous and disinterested attachment whenever I have thought your government under difficulties ... into the House of Commons I can go no more.

A few days later he wrote, ‘With respect to my reappearance in the House of Commons, I can only say I am happy everything goes so powerfully and decidedly there that the motives of my absence will not admit of misapprehension ... I shall without regret take my place in the House of Lords in Ireland.’2 He intended if his brother Edmund returned to England to bring him in for the Scarborough seat, but Edmund remained in Flanders.

In September 1793 Mulgrave was appointed lieutenant-governor of Toulon, but was superseded before the year was out. His confidence in the impregnability of the fortifications proved unfounded—it was criticized by Fox in debate, 21 Jan. 1794. On 10 Apr. he took advantage of Maitland’s motion to explain the failure to hold Toulon, insisting that a wholly British garrison would have retained it, whereas internal discord among the French marred the prospects of doing so; but he did not regard the loss as damaging. He urged retaliation against the French for their ‘assassination’ of British prisoners of war, 14, 17 Apr. A member of the secret committee on sedition, he was teller for the bill authorizing the detention of suspect persons, 16 May.

Mulgrave obtained a British peerage in August 1794 and made a successful debut in the Lords on 30 Dec. After being sent on a mission to the allies in 1799, he ended his military career by refusing the Irish command in 1801. In 1804 Pitt admitted him to his cabinet and, a year later, to the Foreign Office. He held the Admiralty in Portland’s ministry, transferring to the Ordnance in 1810. This office he resigned to the Duke of Wellington in 1818.3 Further office was out of the question: by 1820 he was

affected with universal paralysis and in the state both in look and power of a man aged 90 though but 64. He is so feeble that he cannot write a letter, and in his motion rather shuffles and creeps than walks. His apprehension is dull and his utterance imperfect.4

He died 7 Apr. 1831.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Winifred Stokes / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Morning Chron. 13 Jan. 1792.
  • 2. PRO 30/8/162, ff. 43, 45.
  • 3. DNB.
  • 4. Farington, viii. 243.