The sea was clearly in the blood of some members of the Phipps or Phips or Phripp family. A number of connections exist to the Royal Navy and to sea trade, especially trade with the Caribbean. A chronology below lists some of those connections.
Among the connections, one thing becomes evident: Past posts have speculated as to why it was the case that, although the Fips or Phips or Phipps family in early Virginia and North Carolina appear to have some connection to high society of British origin, they generally seemed intent on keeping a low profile in America – an odd stance indeed.
Evidently here is at least part of the answer: By the 1760s, Fips or Phips or Phipps individuals in Virginia and North Carolina found themselves in an environment which was increasingly anti-British. At the same time, they appear to have had close relatives who were among some of the most prominent British figures fighting against pro-Revolution sentiments.
One of those relatives who pushed for British interests in defiance of the American cause was Capt. Charles Phipps, a British naval officer discussed below. In the story of Washington at Valley Forge and related incidents, Charles Phipps becomes, in Revolutionaries’ eyes, the enemy.
Charles was a great-grandson of the very prominent Constantine Henry Phipps, an English lawyer who eventually became Lord Chancellor of Ireland. That Constantine might not have ever been in Virginia, but was governor of Jamaica for a while.
Regardless, he appears to have been widely viewed as the perfect example of a stodgy, crabby, spoiled aristocrat, unpopular with the common people even in the British Isles. Constantine Henry Phipps had a twin sister Ann who married a George Reeves who deserted her and who died in Virginia.
Charles Phipps was the brother of another Constantine. This one was Constantine John Phipps. Like Charles, Constantine John Phipps became a Naval officer in the Royal Navy. In addition, he had various direct dealings with Virginia and North Carolina.
Constantine John Phipps was the godfather for a Corbin in Virginia. That Corbin appears to have been in the same social circle as the “Phripp” family which apparently was also known as Phips or Phipps.
Constantine John Phipps became equated in colonists’ minds with the despised Stamp Act, the notorious British law which was a primary factor leading to the Revolutionary War. In fact, it could have been, in part, because of this association that Matthew Phripp, the prominent Norfolk, Virginia merchant, was accused of being a Loyalist.
When Constantine John Phipps brought the stamps to Wilmington, North Carolina, Governor William Tryon suggested that Phipps distribute the stamps from onboard a boat in the harbor, fearing trouble otherwise. Tryon greeted the masses with an appeal to “the necessity of America’s helping her mother” and to “receive the stamps,” which resulted in no more favorable response than a “general hiss.”
Then another ship nearby unfurled the Irish flag, which was viewed as an act of defiance. After Phipps ordered the flag seized, the locals were infuriated. A mob gave Phipps trouble from below the window of the building where he was staying, and things got so bad that Phipps threatened to blow the town to smithereens, using the guns on his ship.
Constantine John Phipps was not exactly “flavor of the month,” as they might say in England today. In fact, he was a hated and despised figure who represented “the enemy.” Yet he clearly had relatives in Virginia and in the Caribbean. No wonder family members in America were not anxious to publicly draw attention to their British gentry connections.
In fact, a few weeks before the Wilmington incident, a crowd hanged a “gentleman” in effigy who had come out in favor of the Stamp Act. Mock executions were held in other cities. If you were a Phips or Phipps in North Carolina or Virginia and were related to Constantine John Phipps, would you want to make sure everyone knew you had such illustrious family connections?
Understanding this family, genealogically speaking, quickly becomes confusing because of the abundance of Phipps men named Constantine. The following skeletal outline should help, but even this outline does not include all the various Constantines.
In fact, there’s even a living Constantine Phipps today, the 5th Marquess of Normanby. He is an author who appears in the following video:
Indentation in the list below indicates a descendant relationship. It is hoped that the intended indentations will be preserved across all browsers and devices:
- Francis Phipps of Reading, Berkshire, England, m. Anne Sharpe
- Constantine Henry Phipps (b. 1656), twin brother of Anne, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, m. Catherine Sawyer
- William Phipps m. Catherine Annesley, granddaughter of King James II
- Constantine Phipps (b. 1722), 1st Baron Mulgrave, m. Lepell Hervey
- Constantine John Phipps (b. 1744), 2nd Baron Mulgrave, British naval officer associated with the Stamp Act
- Capt. Charles Phipps (b. 1753), British naval officer
- Anne Phipps (b. 1656), twin sister of Constantine Henry, m. George Reeves who deserted her and died in Virginia
With regard to the George Reeves just mentioned, note that there were several persons of this name in Virginia who were probably related. One was the George Reeves of Wilkes County, North Carolina and then Grayson County, Virginia who was the father in law of Samuel Phips or Phipps of Wilkes County and then Ashe County, North Carolina.
Various connections involving sea captains, international trade, and maritime adventures are recounted in the chronology below:
23 May 1609:
The second charter of Virginia, dated 23 May 1609, was signed by the group of merchants and gentry who together made up the Virginia Company of London. Among those signing was Robert Phipps, listed as a grocer.
William Phips, who became the first colonial governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony (but not of Massachusetts) was supposedly born in Maine in 1651. He is said to have become involved in transporting goods between New England and the West Indies in the Caribbean through his association with a ship captain named Roger Spencer. Spencer became his father in law.
One source claims that William became the captain of a ship which transported codfish and pine lumber from New England to the Caribbean, while then bringing back molasses for sale in New England. Another source says he made “many voyages” to the West Indies.
George Reeves appears to have had his estate probated in both Middlesex County, Virginia and Middlesex County (London), England in 1689. He married Ann/Anne Phipps, twin sister of Constantine Henry Phipps, with both having been the offspring of Francis Phipps of Reading, Berkshire, England. Ann appears to have died in England while George Reeves, her husband, died in Virginia with his estate probated in both Virginia and England.
John Blackmore was master of a Maryland “pinck” (a type of ship) called the Ann. “Secret conferences” were supposedly held in Annapolis in 1696 and/or 1698 which examined charges that he was a pirate. He appears to have had various other run-ins with the law as a ship captain.
Then, in 1712, he is supposed to have given power of attorney to a certain Katherine/Catherine Phipps/Phips, believed to have been the wife of a George Phips/Phipps. This George may have lived in Anne Arundel County.
William Phipps married Catharine Annesley in 1718. She was a daughter of James Annesley and his wife Catharine Darnley, who was the illegitimate daughter of King James II. James II was the king who authorized the efforts of another William, Sir William Phips, to salvage sunken treasure off a Spanish shipwreck in the Caribbean.
The William who married Catherine was a son of Constantine Henry Phipps and a nephew of the Ann Phipps who married George Reeves who died in Virginia.
Phips’s 2nd expedition was financed by the Duke of Albemarle, apparently the same one who was Catharine Darnley’s brother. The William Phipps who married Catharine Annesley was a grandson of Francis Phipps of Reading, Berkshire, England. We are supposed to believe that all of these connections are strictly coincidental.
Did “Sir” William’s genealogy and biography, as generally told, become so obviously botched as a result of the Revolution, in an attempt to hide anti-Revolutionary aristocratic connections? Or did that occur earlier for some reason?
11 October 1718:
The Post Boy, a newspaper published in London on 11 October 1718, noted that one “Captain Phips” had arrived in the port of Bristol with his ship, a galley called the Reymond. He was of the port of Bristol and had returned from the African coast.
The 1722 Norfolk County, Virginia will of Robert Tucker appears to refer to a sloop being built for him. A somewhat cryptic notation appears: “Capt. John Phripp will bidd for and purchase.” The Phripp family in the Norfolk area appears to have sometimes gone by Phipps/Phips.
Also associated with this family was John Tucker, whose 1731/2 Norfolk County will mentions money “to be raised out of” his goods from the Caribbean. The will mentions “my sloops” and “my friend John Phripp.”
The 1734 Norfolk County will of Richard Joell was witnessed by J. Phripp and refers to Joell’s friend “Capt. Nathaniel Tatum,” perhaps meaning a sea captain. Also associated with the Phripp family was John Ellegood, whose 1740 Norfolk will refers to his “Sea Sloop” in addition to various other “Water craft.”
He also mentions his rum, dry goods, and other “wares & Merchandize.” The reference to rum would indicate that he was involved in the lucrative Caribbean trade. He and Matthew Phripp, the Norfolk merchant, were both suspected of Loyalist beliefs.
One source lists John Tayloe Corbin and Richard Corbin as among “the chief men of Tory inclinations in Virginia” (Eckenrode, The Revolution in Virginia). This reference clearly associates the Tayloe and Corbin families with Tory sentiments.
These families were also very clearly connected to Constantine John Phipps, discussed at length below, who attempted to find a northwest passage by way of the North Pole. Constantine John Phipps was a godfather to one of the Corbins in Virginia.
Constantine John Phipps was a descendant of Constantine Henry Phipps, twin brother of Anne Phipps who married a George Reeves; she died in England but he deserted her and died in Virginia.
All of this is strong circumstantial evidence which would seem to suggest that the Phripp family was very likely a part of the Phipps family, which descended from Francis Phipps of Reading, Berkshire, England.
Black slaves were brought to Yorktown and the James River in 1725 and 1726 via ships owned by four individuals, one of whom was John Phripp (see 1722, above). The ships were licensed in Williamsburg.
Another of the individuals involved was John Huchings, and the Hutchings name appears repeatedly in records in connection with the prominent Norfolk merchant Matthew Phripp. The ship Danger transported 3 blacks named “Frip” from Norfolk, presumably having belonged to a Phripp, to Nova Scotia in 1783.
9 August 1725:
A certain Capt. Samuel Phipps was buried at Charlestown, Massachusetts 9 August 1725. That was noted in the Diary of Samuel Sewall as published in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Vol. 7, 5th series (Boston, 1882), p. 388, in Sewall’s diary on 22 December 1727.
23 May 1755:
Capt. Samuel Phripp was in charge of a ship called Hannah, as reported 23 May 1755 in the Virginia Gazette. At the time, the ship arrived in the “lower District” of the James River. The ship was carrying 2,900 bushels of corn, 50,000 shingles, and 17 boxes of candles, and was bound for Bermuda.
Judging from what some of the other ships which were listed and which had also arrived at the James River were carrying, the Hannah was likely to return with such goods from the Caribbean as rum and sugar. “Negroes,” listed as though they were just another commodity, was another possibility.
This Samuel Phripp was presumably related to the Norfolk merchant Matthew Phripp. Records indicate that this family also went by Phipps or Phips at times, or were at least referred to as such.
15 January 1760:
A certain Charles Phipps was mentioned in a London news report dated 15 January 1760, as published in the Public Ledger. The news report refers to him as “the young” Charles Phipps, “from Virginia to Jamaica,” as published under shipping news.
According to the report, he was “taken” 18 June (presumably 1759), and “re-taken by the General Amhurst privateer of New-York, and carried into Providence,” presumably Rhode Island.
What is that all about? Since the item was published under shipping news, was he a ship captain? “General Amhurst” was presumably Jeffery Amherst, the 1st Baron Amherst, who was born in 1717 and who died in 1797. He was a British Army officer and at one time was the crown governor of Virginia.
A certain Lt. Phipps, apparently David Phipps, was in command of the HMS Mohawk under Amherst during the 1760 Battle of the Thousand Islands during the French and Indian War. This was at Fort Lewis on the upper St. Lawrence River.
Wikipedia notes that Amherst was based in New York when he dispatched troops for the West Indies in the Caribbean. This led to the capture of Dominica in 1761 and of Martinique and Cuba in 1762. Note that Charles Phipps was “re-taken” by General Amhurst in 1759, evidently.
Could the story suggest that Charles Phipps had been captured by the French – hence “taken” – but then rescued (“re-taken”) by the British under Amherst? The same “taken and retaken” wording appears in a list of “American Vessels taken and retaken by his Majesty’s Ships” during the Revolutionary War in 1776.
And what is the reference to a privateer? A privateer was either a person or a ship authorized by one government to attack ships of another government in wartime. Was Charles Phipps a privateer in the Caribbean who was captured by the French and then recaptured by General Amherst? Amherst became major-general in 1758, after coming against the French in Canada.
And who was this Charles Phipps? Could this Charles Phipps have possibly been related to the Lt. Phipps – apparently Lt. David Phipps – mentioned a few times in Jeffery Amherst’s journal in 1760, the date of the newspaper article? On 9 July 1760, Jeffery Amherst arrived at Oswego, New York. He noted on 15 July 1760:
Capt Prescott went on board & stoped Capt Loring from coming into port. He sailed from Niagara on the 13th & Lt Phipps who I had sent from hence on the 9th with Guns, ammunition & 100 Seamen had not then arrived at Niagara.
Then on 19 July 1760, Amherst noted “Lt Phipps arrived from Niagara. Capt [Joshua] Loring was sailed before he arrived with his seamen.” Amherst then noted on the 20th,
In the morning two Vessels appeared . . . Lt Phipps declared they were a Schooner & a Brig, so that they must be the Enemys. I ordered three whale boats, wrote to Capt Loring by each of them of their being off here, & to desire he would post himself at the river so that they may not get in. I sent Lt Phipps in one, Capt Modie, who knows the Lake, in another, and a soldier acquainted with the Lake in a third.
The French sighted two British ships, the Onondaga and the Mohawk, on 7 August 1760. The two British ships then pursued the French. The Mohawk, according to Wikipedia, was commanded by Lt. David Phipps.
On 23 August 1760, during firing at the fort, Amherst discussed in his journal this use of ships:
I sent to Capt. Loring to desire the Vessels would move down together & go close to the Fort. The Mohawk got down very soon, but the others not following, he lay alongside about three-quarters of an hour, & the Enemy from their first consternation recovered themselves & fired their Guns, one shot taking Place in the Mohawk, then beat in a Plank and risked her sinking. Lt. Phipps cut the Cable and got down before the Island. Then the other two Vessels arrived nearer the Fort . . . .
An online article in the Continental Navy website about Lt. David Phipps notes that the David Phipps discussed here could have been the David Phipps who was born 1741 at Falmouth, Maine, but that he also could have been the “future British naval captain,” also named David Phipps.
The one born at Falmouth was supposed to have been a son of Danforth Phipps, who was a shipwright, and his wife Elizabeth Skillings. That David then resided in New Haven, Connecticut.
Stamp Act protests in North Carolina began in the summer of 1765. This was about to become an explosive issue, with Constantine John Phipps right in the middle of it. See here for background.
28 November 1765:
Governor William Tryon of North Carolina had been attempting, apparently in vain, to rally the colonists in favor of the Stamp Act. Capt. Constantine John Phipps brought the dreaded stamps to North Carolina onboard his ship, the Diligence, on 28 November 1765.
20 December 1765:
Capt. Constantine John Phipps brought Governor Tryon to Wilmington from Brunswick, on the Cape Fear River, on 20 December 1765. The purpose was that a ceremony had been arranged having to do with Tryon’s commission as governor.
Tryon urged the crowd to support the Stamp Act and to “receive the stamps.” The crowd hissed and another ship in the harbor raised the Irish flag in defiance. Phipps had the flag seized, to the fury of the crowd who then harassed Phipps at his place of lodging.
Things got so bad that Phipps threatened to use the Diligence to blow up the town. The threat was not carried out, but he had gone back up to Brunswick, where the ship was located (he had brought Tryon to Wilmington in a barge) intending to bring the sloop Diligence back to Wilmington, along with the ship’s 12 guns.
25 February 1766:
News of the Wilmington incident involving Constantine John Phipps gradually made its way into the print media of the day. A letter dated 25 February 1766 appears in The State Records of North Carolina under the heading “Armed Resistance to the Stamp Act.”
That letter refers to Captain Phipps and the ship known as the Diligence. This would be Constantine John Phipps, and the relationship of Phipps to the Stamp Act is discussed more fully below.
7 March 1766:
Constantine John Phipps
The Virginia Gazette reported on 7 March 1766, via an unnamed correspondent in Halifax (presumably Nova Scotia) that one Capt. Phipps, in the ship Diligence, was attempting to distributing stamps under the Stamp Act.
He tried to distribute them at Wilmington North Carolina, but found that locals were prepared to meet his ship with rafts, with plans to “set him, ship, and stamps, all on fire.”
This would have been Constantine John Phipps, who was better known for attempting to reach the North Pole by ship. He was also the brother of Capt. Charles Phipps, the British Naval officer who fought against the Americans during the Revolution.
Constantine John Phipps was promoted 24 November 1763 to command the Diligence, which was a 12-gun sloop, according to his biography in Wikipedia. The newspaper article connects Phipps with active attempts to carry out the highly unpopular Stamp Act in America. That act was passed the year before, in 1765.
13 March 1766:
The schooner Ranger, with its captain, Capt. Phipps, was reported in 1766 as having at arrived on 26 February 1766 at Ocracock. This report appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette, in the issue of 13 March 1766.
Ocracock is off the coast of North Carolina, east of New Bern in the Outer Banks. The ship was said to have sailed “from this Port,” evidently referring to Philadelphia.
The Ranger, perhaps the same one, was captured during the Revolutionary War in 1777 by the British Naval officer Capt. Charles Phipps, who was onboard the Camilla. This Charles was the brother of the Constantine John Phipps who brought the stamps associated with the Stamp Act to Wilmington, North Carolina.
Did Charles Phipps capture a ship for which he had earlier served as captain? Or was the Capt. Phipps of the Ranger in 1766 a different Capt. Phipps?
9 July 1767:
James Phipps advertised in the Virginia Gazette (published in Williamsburg) on 9 July 1767 that he had items for sale at “reasonable” prices, “for ready money.” Those items were “West Indian rum and sugar.”
This, of course, indicates that he was involved either directly or indirectly in Caribbean trade. One would think that he was based in Williamsburg, but in the 10 April 1768 issue of the same newspaper (see below), he seemed to indicate that he was based in nearby Yorktown.
10 December 1767:
Vincent Phipps, esquire, was reported in the London Evening-Post on 10 December 1767 as having died the preceding Thursday. He was described as having “lately arrived from the East-Indies.”
The East Indies is, of course, an older term once used to refer to South and Southeast Asia. Vincent Phipps died at his home on North Street, in Red Lion Square. Red Lion Square is located where Bloomsbury and Holborn join, in central London.
The death of another Vincent Phipps was noted earlier, in the Whitehall Evening-Post or London Intelligencer on 6 November 1755. He was described as “late of Oswestry in the County of Salop,” and was a grocer.
“Salop” is just an old way of saying Shropshire. Shropshire is in the West Midlands, bordering Wales. Oswestry is very close to the Welsh border.
Perhaps this earlier (or at least he died earlier) Vincent Phipps was also a grocer. Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society refers to “Vincent Phipps, grocer,” but without making it clear which one it was. He appears listed among the mayors of Oswestry, dated 1748.
One must wonder what the implications were of the East Indies reference with regard to the later Vincent Phipps. Was this a family involved in lucrative foreign trade?
17 March 1768:
Two different editions of the Virginia Gazette, published by two different publishers, are extant for 17 March 1768. Both report an identically-worded news item (one from New York, the other from Philadelphia).
According to that report, a certain Capt. Phipps was on the schooner Pitt, en route from Virginia to St. Christopher’s (St. Kitts) in the Caribbean, when the ship was “foundered.” This word, when applied to a ship, means that the ship began to fill with water and to sink.
Somehow Capt. Phipps and his crew managed to be rescued by another ship. That ship received them and took them to Georgia.
10 April 1768:
James Phipps (see 9 July 1767, above) announced from Yorktown in the pages of the Virginia Gazette that he had “just imported” some items from the Caribbean. For “cash only,” he had available the “best West Indian rum.” (He also had dry goods which he would exchange for grain.)
Phipps said that these items had arrived from St. Christopher’s (St. Kitts in the Caribbean), via the sloop Fanny, commanded by Capt. Robinson. The Slave Rebellion website refers to a ship of this name which, on 7 February 1763, imported 8 slaves into Georgia from St. Christopher’s (St. Kitts).
At that time, the ship’s master was Thomas Stevenson. Then again, on 28 Dec 1764, the Fanny (master Ralph Samson), which may or may not have been the same ship, imported 13 slaves from St. Kitts. That record notes that the ship was built in Bristol, England in 1756.
2 June 1768:
Old newspapers often published legal notices typically headed “A list of letters remaining in the Post Office at . . . ” or something similar. These lists of unclaimed letters can be important genealogically, because they often suggest that someone had been living in the area but may have moved away by the time of the notice.
Such a notice appeared in the Virginia Gazette of 2 June 1768, and listed unclaimed letters in the post office at Norfolk, Virginia (near Williamsburg and Yorktown). That list includes James Phipps, of the Fanny. This would be the sloop James Phipps had mentioned in his ad of 10 April 1768 (see above).
Does this indicate that James Phipps was now the ship’s master? If so, could he have been the “Captain Phipps” whose ship, the Pitt, foundered earlier that year when it was en route from Virginia to St. Kitts in the Caribbean?
Also, without knowing about mail delivery options and practices during this period, does the presence of this letter in the post office at Norfolk suggest anything? James Phipps (assuming it’s the same one) advertised from Yorktown on 14 April 1768. If his business was in Yorktown (and presumably he lived there as well), then is it significant that he had a letter remaining in Norfolk?
To travel from Yorktown to Norfolk would have meant traveling, roughly, about 40 miles south and crossing the Hampton Roads Bay. Did James Phipps have frequent dealings with Norfolk? Did he simply pass by there in his maritime travels (he could have started out from there, for that matter)?
If he had frequent dealings with Norfolk, could he have been associated in some way with Matthew Phripp – sometimes Phipps – the enigmatic Norfolk merchant? That Matthew Phripp eventually faced severe issues due to accusations that he was a Loyalist.
According to a “Chronology of Remarkable Events, Discoveries, and Inventions,” p. 307: “Captain Phipps is sent to explore the North pole; but having made 81 degrees, is in danger of being locked up by the ice; and his attempt to discover a passage in that quarter proves fruitless.” That chronology was published in Branagan, The Flowers of Literature (Philadelphia: Daniel Fenton, 1810).
This “Captain Phipps” would be Constantine John Phipps, discussed above at 7 March 1766. One must wonder whether he was the Capt. Phipps also discussed below, at 2 May 1777.
10 Oct 1771:
A violent slave rebellion hit Tobago in the Caribbean, as reported in the 10 October 1771 issue of the Virginia Gazette. A certain Capt. Ferguson, who was in charge of the troops at Tobago, marched with 12 men, pursuing the rebels who had set themselves up at a high wilderness point, armed with guns.
Ferguson and his men eventually prevailed, and two parties of whites then went out to “scour the Woods” in search of the remaining rebels. One of these parties was led by Col. Ferguson, while the other was under a certain “Captain Phipps.”
The article noted that Tobago could be expected to become a “Sugar island of the first importance.” Since the rebellion was quelled, local white planters were said to now “think of Nothing but Mountains of Sugars and Rivers of Rum.”
24 June 1773:
The Virginia Gazette announced on 24 June 1773 that his majesty’s sloop known as the Racehorse had been put into commission. In addition, “the honourable Captain Phipps” was appointed to command the ship. This reference is to Constantine John Phipps (see above at 7 March 1766 and 1771).
26 August 1773:
Captain Phipps, meaning Constantine John Phipps, was announced in the Virginia Gazette on 26 August 1773 as having set sail on the previous Wednesday. He and a Capt. Lutwidge (Skeffington Lutwidge), on the frigates Racehorse and Carcass, were said to be in search of “the N. W. Passage.”
Mariners looked for centuries for the Northwest Passage, an assumed sea route that would take them from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific. The Racehorse was an 18-gun Royal Navy sloop which is pictured in Wikipedia here. The Carcass was also in the Royal Navy and is pictured in the same illustration.
14 October 1773:
Letters were received in Williamsburg from some on board the Seahorse, a ship commanded by “Captain Phipps,” as reported in the Virginia Gazette on 14 October 1773. Actually, the paper got the name of the ship wrong, intending the Racehorse, not the Seahorse. The ship was said by the paper to have been seeking a northwest passage to Asia.
One of those onboard, a certain Mr. Wyndham, was described as a young and wealthy gentleman who was “incited by a Spirit of Curiosity.” Wyndham developed severe health issues, however, perhaps because of the cold temperatures, and when the “Seahorse” (meaning Racehorse) “fell in” with a ship from Germany returning from fishing off Greenland, he returned with them.
The officers and crew on board Phipps’s ship were said to be in “perfect Health and high Spirits.” According to the newspaper, they had obtained drinking water by using a distillation process invented by a certain Mr. Irwin, who just happened to also be onboard.
11 November 1773:
The Virginia Gazette reported that it had been determined that the “Eskimaus” (also spelled “Eskimaux,” meaning Eskimo) were “one and the same people” with the inhabitants of Greenland. This had been established, it was said, by the crew of a ship which had just come to Amsterdam from Hudson’s Bay.
That crew, it was said, “fell in” with “Capt. Phipp” off “Terra de Labradore,” apparently referring to the coast of Labrador. “The skipper” (presumably of the crew which “fell in” with Phipps rather than Phipps himself, but who knows?) was said to be “well acquainted with the Greenland tongue.”
On that basis, he, whoever he was, determined the announced kinship between the Eskimos and the people of Greenland.
The matter-of-fact way in which the article refers to “Capt. Phipp,” plus the locations described, leads one to assume that this was probably Constantine John Phipps. This Phipps, who attempted to reach the North Pole, is discussed above under the date 7 March 1766, in addition to other places in this chronology.
9 December 1773:
The Virginia Gazette further reported from the ships in Phipps’s expedition. Several times, as reported, the crews had become so lodged in the ice that their situation became “almost desperate,” but each time they managed to free themselves.
The article also noted that the purpose was not only to find a so-called northwest passage, but also to perform “astronomical Observations under the Northern Pole.” The men were noted as being in “perfect Health.” They had not reached the North Pole, but had sailed as far north as 81 degrees, 39 minutes.
3 September 1774:
The personal writings of Philip Vickers Fithian in Virginia include a notation dated 3 September 1774. There he refers to a certain “Captain Fibbs” as inviting Fithian to a barbecue.
Because the family of Betty Tayloe Corbin (see here and 1722, 1725-1725, above) of Virginia is also discussed in Fithian’s writings, with Constantine John Phipps having been her godfather, it seems likely (although not definite) that this reference is to Constantine John Phipps.
30 December 1776:
A ship known as the Liberty, with Solomon Phipps as master, was an American ship which was “taken and retaken” by the British during the Revolutionary War on 30 December 1776. The ship was sailing from New London, Connecticut to the West Indies, in the Caribbean, as reported in The North-British Intelligencer or Constitutional Miscellany.
This Solomon Phipps appears to have been the son of Daniel Goffe Phipps, who was captured by a British ship in 1775 and placed in prison in Boston. Daniel then became captain of the Nancy in 1779 and played a major role in defending New London. Daniel was the master of a Connecticut sloop, the Rebeccah, in 1780. The ship was based in New Haven.
A British ship called the Camilla, commanded by Capt. Charles Phipps, captured the American sloop called the Fanny in January 1777, according to an article about the ship in Wikipedia.
A few days later, the Camilla captured the Ranger, whose master was William Davies. The Ranger was sailing from St. Lucia in the Caribbean. Then in April 1777, the Camilla captured a ship sailing from the Caribbean to Ocracoke, North Carolina.
Note that, as reported on 13 March 1766 (above), a ship called the Ranger sailed, apparently, from Philadelphia to Ocracoke, arriving there on 26 February 1766, with “Capt. Phipps” as its master. Was this the same Ranger which was captured by the Camilla, under Capt. Charles Phipps, in 1777?
Also, again the Camilla, under Capt. Charles Phipps, captured the American sloop the Fanny in January 1777. Is this the same sloop Fanny that was associated with James Phipps in 1768?
In that year, as a Yorktown merchant, James Phipps advertised rum from St. Christopher’s (St. Kitts) in the Caribbean which had arrived on the sloop Fanny. Note that also the 1768 unclaimed letter notice which was discussed above refers to James Phipps “of” the Fanny.
Could Charles, who was on the British side during the Revolution, have been related to James, the Yorktown merchant? Could this possibly have anything to do with the story Wayne Witcher heard, as noted a couple posts back, that claims that an early James Phipps had to flee Virginia for North Carolina?
2 May 1777:
A report from Williamsburg, dated 2 May 1777, was published on that date in the Virginia Gazette. That report included part of the text of what was described as a very long letter from General Howe to Lord Germain. That letter was dated 30 November of the previous year.
In that letter, mention is made of one “Captain Phipps” in command of efforts by the British to penetrate New Jersey. This Capt. Phipps had been sent by “the Admiral” with the aim of taking Ft. Lee. The article refers to Phipps as commanding “boats” which were sent by “the Admiral to Kingsbridge” on the evening of the 17th, “without being discovered by the enemy.”
This appears to be a reference to events having to do with Fort Lee in New Jersey, opposite Fort Washington in New York. Wikipedia calls the battle of Fort Lee on 20 November 1776 a successful British invasion which resulted in a “general retreat” of the Continental Army.
The 17th (without stating which month) is singled out in the article’s section about Phipps. On the 16th of November in 1776, Fort Lee and Fort Washington were lost to the British.
The British then controlled the Hudson River between the two forts. General Howe of the British forces then ordered Cornwallis (both of whom were referred to in the article) to clear out the rebels.
The same letter extracts were also published in the December 1776 issue of The Scots Magazine (p. 645):
Fort Lee being the next object for the entire command of the North river, and a ready road to penetrate into Jersey, an addition of boats, under the command of Capt. Phipps, was sent by the Admiral to King’s-bridge, in the night of the 17th, without being discovered by the enemy. The first division, for imbarkation, landed next day at eight o’clock in the morning, about seven miles above the fort, while the second division marched up the east side of the river; by which movement the whole corps, as per margin, were landed, with their cannon, by ten o’clock, under the command of Lt-Gen. Earl Cornwallis. The seaman distinguished themselves remarkably upon this occasion, by their readiness to drag the cannon up a rocky narrow road, for near half a mile, to the top of a precipice, which bounds the shore for some miles on the west side.
A 2014 book (Ketchum, The Winter Soldiers: The Battles for Trenton and Princeton), refers to this same letter and these events. There it is said that 20 flatboats, under Capt. Phipps, were used to ferry the British “assault force” under Cornwallis to New Jersey. The same letter excerpts also appear in American Archives and in a number of other sources.
Very interesting, but who was Phipps? A number of sources refer to “Captain Phipps” in connection with this event without identifying him. One would think it could have been Constantine John Phipps (see 7 March 1766 and 1777, above), but a more likely candidate was his brother, Charles Phipps.
Charles was an officer in the Royal Navy who is specifically referred to in sources as having served in the American Revolutionary War. Charles was born 10 December 1753.
The father of both Constantine John Phipps and Charles Phipps was Constantine Phipps, who was the 1st Baron Mulgrave. That Constantine (baptized 1722) was a grandson of Constantine Henry Phipps (baptized 1656), who was Lord Chancellor of Ireland.
This earlier Constantine Henry Phipps was born in Reading, Berkshire, England, a son of Francis Phipps who married Anne Sharpe. Anne Phipps, twin sister of this Constantine Henry Phipps, married George Reeves, who is said to have deserted her and to have died in Virginia.
After Anne Sharpe died, Francis Phipps remarried to the widow of a Jeaffreson from the Caribbean, with apparent connections to the Jefferson and Epps families of Virginia.
As has been already discussed in other posts, other apparent connections extend from there to another George Reeves. He was the father in law of Samuel Phipps of Ashe County, North Carolina. this Epps family probably connects to President Thomas Jefferson, who married an Epps.
Charles Phipps, according to his biography in Wikipedia, sailed for America in May of 1776. He appears to have been actively involved in Naval actions against the Continental Army in America at least into 1778. He died at Mulgrave Castle in Yorkshire on 20 October 1786.
25 May 1801:
A certain Captain Phipps was in charge of a private ship called the Hope, in 1801. On 25 May 1801, the Hope arrived from Bengal at East India House, as reported in The Naval Chronicle.
8 June 1802:
The Raleigh Register, published 8 June 1802 in Raleigh, North Carolina, noted the arrival of “Captain Phipps” in New York. He had come from Florida by way of Savannah, Georgia. He carried with him whites who had been driven off their plantations by the Indians.
27 November 1821:
A son was born to Captain Phipps at Barrackpore in West Bengal on 27 November 1821. This was reported in the Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany.
13 April 1825:
The obituary of Capt. David Phipps, who was reported as having died “recently,” appeared in the Daily National Journal in Washington on 13 April 1825. He was described as a Revolutionary soldier who was born 1741 in Falmouth, Maine, who who moved to New Haven, Connecticut before 1770.
In 1775, he entered military service as master of the ship Alfred. This ship, along with others, sailed to New Providence, where they captured the British governor of the island as one of the earliest Navy victories for the Americans.
Later, Phipps served on the Providence. He was captured 3 times by the British.