A Phipps Duel in 1825, and Heraldic Connections

A duel between Phipps and Starkey is the subject of records described as “copies of a report from the Devizes Gazette.” The records are to be found at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham, England, and are indexed by the National Archives. The record is also mentioned in the Wiltshire Council‘s website.

The latter identifies Phipps as Charles Lewis Phipps. This was the result of an 1825 quarrel which centered around poaching involving someone working for Phipps. One of the records is a letter to Thomas Henry Hele Phipps, brother of Charles Lewis Phipps, regarding the matter.

Both Charles Lewis Phipps and Thomas Henry Hele Phipps are listed among those appointed as justices of the peace (Parliamentary Papers, p. 62), apparently in 1836. They are also both indexed together by the National Archives as having taken oaths as justices of the peace in the county of Somerset in 1836.

Various records involving one or both men also appear listed in the Wiltshire Council website, in a Wiltshire and Swindon Archives Catalogue Search. In all, the Phipps name appears over 50 times in that page. The name appears over 70 times in a discussion of manors in Westbury in the British History Online site.

Thomas Henry Hele Phipps, by the way, was presumably the person of that name who was the subject of A Sermon on the death of Thomas Henry Hele Phipps, preached and published in 1847. Wikipedia refers to Thomas Henry Hele Phipps as the father of John Lewis Phipps (1801-1870) of Leighton House in Westbury, Wiltshire. The latter was involved in the Brazilian coffee business.

Burke refers to Thomas Henry Hele Phipps as a son of Thomas-Hele Phipps of Leighton House, in turn a son of Thomas Phipps, Esq. of the same estate, son of another Thomas, Esq., also of Leighton House, son of Paul of the parish of Westbury. This family was treated at length in an earlier post

Regarding the duel, this is mentioned in Ronan Kelly’s 2008 book, Bard of Erin: the Life of Thomas Moore. There it is noted that the Phipps and Starkey families “fell out dramatically.” Phipps, as a result of the duel, was “clipped in the foot.” Starkey, for his part, received a bullet hole through his hat. (A couple other Phipps references appear in the book.)

The Morning Chronicle of London, citing another paper, the Southampton Herald, reported on Wednesday, 2 March 1825 that the duel, described as “an affair of honour,” took place Wednesday morning (it doesn’t say which Wednesday).

This was at “the New Forest (Lyndhurst, we believe)” and that both men lived near Devizes. The same story with the same wording also appeared in the newspaper called The British Press, published in London just the day before.

The papers explained that the quarrel arose when Starkey’s father suspected that a laborer of Phipps had poached Starkey’s game. Starkey (the father, apparently) was identified as man with a doctorate in divinity, who was one of Phipps’s neighbors.

Phipps evidently became offended at undefined “measures” taken by Starkey to prevent a recurrence. “High words” were exchanged, and Rev. Starkey warned Phipps to act civilly toward him.

Phipps then ran into the younger Starkey in the marketplace in Devizes, and hurled forth some “degrading epithets” regarding the younger and elder Starkey as well as the rest of their family.

Being gentlemen, aside from Phipps’s insults, they exchanged cards with the intention of settling the matter. Phipps apologized to Starkey, but not until after two shots had been fired.

Another record in the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, as indexed by the National Archives, is an anonymous letter to Charles Lewis Phipps, dated 1828. In addition, five letters from Phipps are indexed here. Four notes from poet Thomas Moore to Charles Lewis Phipps (1841 and undated) are indexed here.

The British Gazetteer mentions Dilton Court as the seat of Charles Lewis Phipps, and mentions that he was the brother of Thomas Henry Hele Phipps. A later (1841) Dilton Court, perhaps built on the same site, is now being run as a bed and breakfast in Westbury.

Francis Phipps arms ArmsDilton Court is also mentioned in Burke in connection with Charles. The arms are noted as being the same as those of Phipps of Leighton House. These arms were discussed in a previous post as being the same as those associated with Francis Phipps of Reading, Berkshire (at left).

The arms of Francis Phipps are described as “Sable, a trefoil slipped between eight mullets Argent. Crest: A lion’s gamb erect and erased Sable, holding erect a trefoil as in the Arms.”

The arms associated with Leighton House in Wiltshire are described in identical terms. We’ve also discussed the very similar arms of the “Phibbs” (and sometimes Phipps) family of county Sligo in Ireland. (See also the detailed treatment here.) The Phibbs arms are missing the trefoil slipped between the mullets.

The arms would appear to suggest a genealogical connection between the Phipps family of Leighton House in Wiltshire, the “Phipps” family in county Sligo in Ireland, and the far-flung family of Francis Phipps of Reading, Berkshire, England.



One thought on “A Phipps Duel in 1825, and Heraldic Connections

  1. To follow – a transcript of the WSHC Index for the Ashe Collection of Langley Burrell, near Chippenham,, Wilts, with a further account of the Starkey Phipps Duel of 1825 :-
    [1825] WSA 118 / Bundle 170 Letter C Johnson to Rev R Ash [1825 re a duel. Xref WSA 540/264 & Wilts Gazette. Charles Lewis Phipps vs ? Starkey which arose over poaching by one of Phipps’ labourers].
    Your having expressed so much interest in the affair between my friend Starky and Mr Phipps, I take the earliest opportunity of informing you that a meeting took place about 5 miles from Southampton yesterday, at four o’clock in the afternoon, and that in the first discharge of pistols Starky’s hat was perforated about half an inch above the skull, and that in the second discharge, Mr Phipps was struck (tho’ not very severely) on the right leg 2 inches above the hindstep; I then deemed it prudent to consent to Starkys being satisfied upon condition that Mr Phipps should, in my presence, make an apology for his extremely ungentlemanlike conduct, which being done, we set off towards this place which we have this instant reached, much jaded as you may suppose. I have only now to express my anxiety that my friends conduct will be considered manly in the extreme and that when I shall have explained every circumstance to you (which I shall take an early opportunity of doing) it may meet your firmest approbation.
    I am sir Very truly, Cuthbert Johnson.
    Bromham. Thursday 1/2 past 4.
    Addressed. The Revd. Robert Ashe, Langley

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