Joseph Phipps was a tallow chandler. In other words, he made or sold tallow candles. He was born on the 18th or 28th (sources differ) of August of 1640 in Reading, Berkshire, England. Genealogists differ as to whether his father was Thomas Phipps or John Phipps. Various Internet genealogists claim John Phipps as his father, but the book Lawmaking and Legislators in Pennsylvania: A Biographical Dictionary, Vol. 1, 1682-1709 has been cited as saying that his father was Thomas Phipps.
Joseph Phipps married Sarah Binfield in 1665 in St. Laurence’s Church in Reading, Berkshire, England. (Her surname has also been represented as Brimfield and as Benfield.) She was born in 1643 in Reading, and was a daughter of Andrew Binfield and his wife Eleanor (Simonds) Binfield. Andrew was born 2 October 1601 at Caversham, Oxfordshire, England, and Eleanor was born 20 July 1608 at Sonning, Berkshire, England. (Caversham is now a part of Berkshire.)
At some point, this Joseph Phipps became a Quaker. “Friends,” or adherents of the Quaker faith, were heavily persecuted at the time in England. When, in keeping with his Quaker beliefs, Joseph refused to take the oath of allegiance in January of 1661, he was thrown in jail.
He should not be confused with a later British Quaker, also named Joseph Phipps, who lived from 1708 to 1787. That later Joseph is well remembered as the author of various books, the best known being The Original and Present State of Man.
The earlier (born 1640) Joseph Phipps was imprisoned various times for his faith as a Quaker. Between June 1662 and July 1666 he was jailed at least six times for participating in what were deemed illegal religious assemblies.
On the 16th of January 1666, Joseph Phipps was tried at the Sessions in Reading for his third offense. The court was to consider whether he should be banished to one of the colonies.
Just before the trial, another Quaker was acquitted. As a result, the court discharged the jury and assembled another. After the second jury was empaneled, Joseph Phipps was brought into the courtroom and his indictment was read. He had already entered a plea of not guilty.
One thing that Joseph Phipps said in his own defense was that there were fewer than five persons who were 16 years of age at the meeting in which he was charged with participating. The judge then declared that he would send Joseph to prison even if there was only one person of that age, as long as at least five people were present.
One of the prisoners testified that they merely met “to seek the Lord.” When the judge was asked whether that was a crime worthy of banishment, he answered “Yes.”
When the jury had deliberated for quite a while, a court official sent for them. The jury was then threatened that they should not acquit the Quakers, but still the jury could not agree. The court then said that the jury should be kept all night without light or heat and without visitors until they would come to an agreement.
When the court met the next morning, the jury members declared that they had still not come to an agreement. Finally, however, two of those who could not go along with the banishment finally agreed to it, and the announcement was made that there was a verdict.
At that point, one of the jury members spoke up and said that he was not in agreement, declaring “I am not satisfied.” The court armorer answered, “You shall be satisfied.” Although four jury members disagreed with the verdict, the foreman announced “Guilty!”
In sentencing Joseph Phipps, the judge said that he would be transported to one of the colonies for seven years. He was then, however, returned to prison, where he remained until he was released six years later, in 1672, by letters patent of the king. His wife, Sarah (Binfield) Phipps, was released in 1672. She had been in jail since 1671.
After being released, however, Joseph Phipps was again jailed for refusing to swear allegiance. This time he was jailed from October 1675 to February 1676.
In 1682, Joseph Phipps and his wife Sarah emigrated from England to America. Various genealogists say that they came with William Penn to establish the colony of Pennsylvania, but whether they actually traveled with Penn onboard Penn’s ship the Welcome is not clear. Such sources as Welcome Claimants do not list Joseph Phipps as having made that particular voyage, but that does not mean that he did not.
The following is an excerpt from a biography of John Price Durbin John [sic] which appeared in the National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 7 (1892):
They belonged to the Society of Friends, and were known as the first preachers in Uwchland, a Welsh district of Chester county, Pa. Another ancestor was Joseph Phipps, a personal friend of William Penn, who is represented as standing at Penn’s right hand in Benjamin West’s celebrated painting of ‘Penn’s Treaty with the Indians.’
The obituary for Joseph’s wife Sarah (see below) mentions that the couple “appear” to have first resided in the Chester area before moving to Philadelphia County. A 1683 record refers to Joseph Phipps purchasing 500 acres in Pennsylvania from Benjamin Clark of London.
An obituary for Sarah appeared in a Quaker publication known as The Friend, 7th day, 11th month, 1855, p. 68:
Sarah —-, was born at Reading, in Berkshire, England, in the Ninth month, 1643. She was convinced of the Truth in her childhood, and about the time she reached maturity, suffered imprisonment on several occasions for her faithfulness in attending religious meetings. She married Joseph Phipps, who had been a great sufferer in the same place, for his testimony in support of his Christian principles.
They came to Pennsylvania, in the year 1682, and appear at first to have located themselves about Chester, Joseph being appointed to represent the county of Chester in the Assembly, which was held at the beginning of 1683. They soon removed into Philadelphia county, in the neighborhood of Abington, he being in 1687 an active member of Dublin Monthly Meeting. In the winter of 1694, they met with a serious loss in the destruction of their house and out-buildings, by fire. The immediate destitution was so complete that the Quarterly Meeting of Philadelphia, which occurred a few weeks afterwards, directed its treasurer to furnish them funds for present need, and recommended the Monthly Meetings to furnish further aid. It appears that no lives were lost, and the pecuniary embarrassment was soon removed through the kindness of their Friends, and the renovating effects of industry.
Soon after the year 1700, she appeared in the ministry, in which for the last twenty years and more of her life, she was, her Friends testify, “serviceable” in the church. In 1716 she was left a widow, and survived her valuable husband about eight years. She died on the 27th of the Eleventh month, 1725, aged 81 years and 2 months.
More about this couple will probably be added to this article later. READ THE COMMENTS BELOW.