More About Edmund Phipps

More about Edmund Phipps, the person discussed in the last post, appears in Records of Buckinghamshire, Vol. 7, Aylesbury: G.T. de Fraine, “Bucks Herald” Ofice, 1897. The text on pages 206-207 associates paper mills in the area with the reign of Charles I, who we discussed in the last post.

The last post had referred to paper mills in Buckinghamshire in 1636, including the one which was operated by Edmund Phipps. The book just mentioned refers on p. 207 to an issue which arose regarding Edmund Phipps and which was also mentioned in the last post.

This was the Ecclesiastical Court action against him in 1635 for operating his water mill at Horton on Sundays. The book quotes the record as stating that “his water-mill for paper at Horton went for the most part on every Sunday throughout the year.”

Here Edmund Phipps is referred to as “gentleman and high constable of the Hundred of Stoke.” The last post referred to the village of Horton in Stoke Hundred.

Then the same book also notes on p. 207, that in the following year, on 24 June 1636,  Edmund Phipps and Joshua Halsey were arrested and brought before the Privy Council. Phipps is identified in that context as high constable of Stoke Hundred, and Halsey as constable of Chesham in Buckinghamshire. Then, “a little later,” Phipps came before the Privacy Council and was ordered to remain in custody.

This is the same matter which appears in John Bruce, ed.,  Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of Charles I, Longmans, Green, & Co., 1867. There Edmund Phipps is referenced on p. 17. In a record dated 24 June 1636, a warrant was issued to “fetch before the Lords, Edmund Phipps, high constable of Stoke, and Joshua Halsey, constable of Chesham, Bucks.”

The text in Records of Buckinghamshire notes that the reason for the arrest is unclear. The author believed, however, tht it was “pretty certainly his failure to get in the ship-money, for which several similar officials were called to account about this time.” The meaning of this isn’t immediately made clear, however.

The author then also notes that Edmund Phipps “must have been well-known” to the poet John Milton. That’s because Milton lived in the same small village from 1632 to 1638. The text also provides more details and descriptions of the plague and its effects on the paper mills.

In the same book, pages 208-210 quote from a letter dated 1636. The letter was written by locals who were incensed about the proposed tax to be levied in order to provide compensation for the paper mills. Those mills had been closed because of the plague.

Part of the letter refers specifically to Edmund Phipps, calling him “Mr. Phipps, the Paper Master of these Mills.” He is characterized in the letter as unconcerned about providing work for “his poore Men,” but only about money for himself as one of the “Rich Paper Masters” to facilitate paying rent to “their Richer Landlords.”

The letter continues on p. 209 by noting that Phipps “hath scornfullie behaved himselfe towards us,” showing a lack of consideration for alternative employment for the mill’s workers.

The village of Horton and the nearby Thames (presumably the source of water power for the paper mill) appears in modern-day satellite views in Apple Maps. There it appears that the area was perhaps very roughly about 6 miles or so from Windsor Castle and between 3 and 4 miles from today’s Heathrow Airport.

British History Online states something which was assumed in the last post, that being the reason for health concerns regarding the use of rags by paper mills. The page refers to a concern that the rags brought to paper mills from other areas could have been infected by the plague.

The page just linked refers to a 1636 action against someone charged with grinding rags in a paper mill through which someone else was supposedly infected with the plague. That same page also refers to Edmond (as spelled) Phipps and his mill at Horton.

In John Bruce, ed., Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of Charles I, London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1869 (apparently different from the one cited above as published in 1867), p. 108, we find an abstract  or transcription of a petition dated 1637 (with a question mark). This petition was addressed to “he Council,” and was written by Edmond Phipps, Henry Harris, and Richard West. Richard West was mentioned in the last post.

They noted in their petition that the paper mills “of which petitioners are farmers” were kept from working since 2 September, “by reason of this contagious time.” They alleged that, as a result, they could not “support themselves and families, being about 120 persons, much less pay rent, being 9£ per week.”

They asked that they not have to pay rent while the paper mills were suppressed. They also noted “the Lords” had suggested that the hundreds should supply economic relief. Horton, again, was located in Stoke Hundred.

Something which isn’t immediately clear is the relationship, if any, between Edmund Phipps of the paper mill at Horton and a much later William Phipps. William has been described as a paper maker who, in 1795, assumed control of a paper mill which had been constructed in 1775 at Buckland.

See also here, for an aerial view of the area of the Buckland mill, and this page for a detailed description with photos. The earlier page linked refers to a Christopher and John Phipps as owners of paper mills, but they were even later still. This page refers to Christopher and John as sons of William.


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