James Phips (1605 - c.1679) MP

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Nicknames: "Phipps"
Birthplace: Mangotsfield, Gloucestershire, England
Death: Died in Woolwich, Sagadahoc, Maine
Occupation: gunsmith, trader, blacksmith
Managed by: David Prins
Last Updated:

About James Phips

William Phips was born on February 2, 1651 in the then remote trading village of Woolwich, Maine. Though most historical accounts, including Cotton Mather's biography, traditionally viewed Phips' upbringing as socially disadvantaged, there is now evidence that his family was moderately prosperous.

Phips' father co-owned and operated a trading post plantation involved in the trade of fur and weapons between local Wabanaki Indians and English settlers. Phips was one of the youngest of fourteen children born to two different fathers. Formal education was rare in rural Maine, and Phips was illiterate until he began to study in Boston.


James was the partner of John White in the early purchase of a large tract at Pemequid (Wiscasset, Woolwich), Maine near the Kennebec River where they both lived and died.

The following text, which makes the often repeated assertion that James Phipps and Francis Phipps of Reading were closely related, does not bear up against the real estate and marriage settlement records that have come to light in recent years. I believe that they were distant cousins, bearing the same arms and sharing distant ancestors, but not as closely related as this piece suggests. You will find the lineage for Francis Phipps of Reading in this ancestry file as well.

"James Phips had been one of the first wave of English settlers to move to coastal Maine. He had been raised in Mangotsfield, one of the four parishes of the hundred of Barton Regis, several miles east of Bristol. Apprenticed to John Brown, a Bristol blacksmith and probably a gunsmith, Phips migrated with Brown at some time in the late 1620s or early 1630s. Following Mather, and considering James Phip's indentureship, historians have traditionally viewed the Phips family as being poor folk with humble West Country antecedents, but in fact the family's principal connections were neither humble nor centred in the west of England. Robert Phips of Nottingham had received the family's coat of arms in the mid-sixteenth century, a mark of at least technical gentility. Robert had three sons. The oldest, George, belonged to 'Walton hall neere Nottingham', but George's only surviving son, Francis Phips, moved to Reading in Berkshire [Note: Francis Phipps of Berkshire was the son of William Phipps and grandson of Francis Phipps of Kenilworth]. While little is known of his social status there, he was certainly able to offer educational opportunities to at least two of his five sons. The oldest, Francis, attended King's College, Cambridge, The youngest, Constantine, was admitted to Gray's Inn in 1678, and later became a leading London attorney, a prominent Tory, and for a time lord chancellor of Ireland. In the 1690s he also served as a London agent for Massachusetts, a post he received through his second cousin, Sir William Phips.

The connection between William Phips and the Robert Phips family is established by a letter written in 1693 by Sir Henry Ashurst, who was well acquanted with both Sir William Phips and Constantine Phips. Constantine, Ashurst mentioned, was Sir William's 'Coszen'. The relationship is also demonstrated by the use of the same coat of arms by the two branches of the family. A family pedigree was compiled by Elias Ashmole in 1664 for Constantine's oldest brother, Francis Phips Jr., who was then a student at Cambridge. It included the family coat of arms granted to Robert Phips, and this same coat of arms appears on the marble monument to Sir William Phips in the London church where he was buried, on the family tomb in Charlestown, and on the wax seal attached to his will. The pedigree is incomplete, failing to include the offspring of either William or Anthony, the younger sons of Robert Phips of Nottingham." (The New England Knight)


  1.  Virtual Phips: Archaeology of the Phips Homestead, Woolwich, Maine (ca. 1639 to 1676)
  2. Governor, Sir William Phips
  3. Loren Rootsweb Project
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James Phips's Timeline

Mangotsfield, Gloucestershire, England
Age 29
Burton, Dasset, Wales, England
Age 41
February 2, 1651
Age 46
Woolwich, Sagadahoc, Maine
October 4, 1679
Age 74
Woolwich, Sagadahoc, Maine