The 1730 London Estate of William Phipps

A past post included a 12-generation Phipps pedigree extending from Robert Phipps of Nottingham, who shows up in records there by the late 1570s, to the present Marquess of Normanby. Robert was presumably the one who is listed in Wikipedia as sheriff of Nottingham in 1574-1575. (In case you’re wondering, there was evidently no possibility of any association with Robin Hood.)

In Generation 4 can be found Constantine Phipps, who became Lord Chancellor of Ireland. This Constantine was, as stated there, the son of Francis Phipps of Reading, Berkshire, who was the focus of published data from the Berkshire heraldic visitations. Constantine had a sister Anna who, as we’ve noted in the past, married a George Reeves in 1675 in Lee, Kent, with that Reeves being said to have left her and to have died in Virginia.

Constantine and his wife Catharine Sawyer were the parents of William Phipps who married Catharine Annesley. Catharine was the daughter of James Annesley, the Earl of Anglesey. She also was what is termed a “natural” daughter, meaning an illegitimate daughter, of James II, king of England.

As noted earlier, this Catharine seems to have been the subject of various writings, while her husband William Phipps seems oftentimes hardly mentioned. We’ve noted before that, according to Fielding’s New Peerage of England Scotland & Ireland (London: John Murray, [1790?], p. 287, William married Catharine in 1718.

Old newspaper reports refer to William Phipps, specifically identified as son of Constantine Phipps, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, as having left a 1730 estate. Newspaper ads began appearing which promoted an auction to be held 16 March 1730, starting at 11 am.

To be sold were items from what was termed the “rich” personal estate of William Phipps, Esq., son of the late Constantine Phipps, who had been Chancellor of Ireland. Cited in ads were fine luxury items, with reference to blue damask, fine linen and Holland sheets, tapestries, as well as fine imported cabinets, screens, and furniture items, glassware, in addition to the “newest fashion’d plate,” “valuable” jewels, clothing, guns, etc., etc., not omitting “divers very valuable Curiosities.”

Before the sale, potential bidders were urged to view the items at William Phipps’s house in Southampton Row in Bloomsbury. Catalogs for the sale could be obtained free of charge. The lavish extravagance of this auction stands in marked contrast to the sort of lowly estate auctions in frontier areas of Virginia and North Carolina which we’ve been detailing in various posts. Those tended to feature items like axes, churns, livestock, and an occasional still.

The auction took place in March. Then in April, another auction was held on the 29th, at 5 pm, to dispose of the library of William Phipps, deceased. Ads referred to him as “late of the Middle-Temple, Esq.” That library was referred to as containing the entire library of his father Constantine, who had been Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

The library contained books in “most” languages. Included were law books. A number of the books were large folio volumes, some containing prints. The library could be viewed before the sale by visiting Phipps’s “Chambers,” presumably meaning his law office, at No. 2 Brick Court, with “one Pair of Stairs.”

British History Online refers to Brick Court as located in the Temple area and mentioned as early as 1673-1675. Brick Court is evidently associated with the Middle Temple; see also the discussion of the Outer Temple in Wikipedia.

Again, catalogs were available. They could be obtained at several locations, including Oliver’s Coffee House at Westminster and a place called Nando’s at Temple Bar. Oliver’s Coffee House was located near the north entrance to Westminster Hall, and Temple Bar Gate was the entrance to London from Westminster. A coffee house called Nando’s, on Fleet Street, apparently operated at Temple Bar at least as early as 1707.

Catalogs for this and the earlier sale were also available from a “Mr. Cock,” perhaps a barrister, whose location was Broad Street, Golden Square. Various sources refer to a “Cock Court” there.

Debrett’s has William Phipps as having died 1 February 1730, and states that his widow Catharine then remarried to John Sheldon, who lived at Croydon. William’s children by Catharine were Constantine Phipps and Catharine Phipps.

Constantine was the father of another Constantine, the one discussed 2 posts back and in various other posts as a significant naval figure, who attempted to reach the North Pole and who was godfather to a Virginia birth. Burke’s also states that William died in 1730 and was succeeded by Constantine.

The line is also discussed in various other books. That includes an interesting period treatment which appears in a section on Hervey, Earl of Bristol, on p. 289 of The English Compendium: or, Rudiments of Honour, Vol. 2, London: Printed for H. Woodfall, et al., 1769.

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