Thomas Philipps, SV/PROG 1 (1776 - 1859) MP

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Birthplace: Lampeter Velfrey, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Death: Died in Eastern Cape, South Africa
Managed by: June Barnes (Buchanan)
Last Updated:

About Thomas Philipps, SV/PROG 1

1820 British Settler

Leader of Philipp's Party of 30 people, on the Kennersley Castle.

Party originated from Pembrokeshire, Wales

Departure Bristol, 10 January 1820. Arrival Table Bay, Cape Town - 29 March 1820. Final Port - Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth 29 April 1820

Area Allocated to the Party : Bush River - Philipps named the location Lampeter, after the Carmarthenshire village of Lampeter Velfrey.

Accompanied by wife Charlotte Harriet Arbouin 41, and 7 children :

Catherine 17, Edward Philipps 16, Charlotte Philipps 14 Sophia Philipps 12, Frederick Philipps 10, Emma Philipps 6, John Philipps 4.

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Rev. Edward Philipps, a graduate of Pembroke College, Oxford, married, by a licence dated 5 December 1774, Catherine Harries, then of Cardigan, daughter of the late Rev. John Harries of St. Ishmael, Carms., Archdeacon of Cardigan, whose wife Mary Lewis was of a Lampeter Velfre family. Catherine had a brother Rev. Charles Harries, sometime of Panteague, Llandewi Velfre, who died vicar of Llangyfelach, Glam., in 1794, and two sisters Maria Elizabeth and Ann who lived as maiden ladies at Haverfordwest were the recipients of fond letters from their nephew in South Africa until their deaths in 1823 and 1833 respectively.

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When Thomas Philipps was two years old, his father who was already a magistrate, was presented by Lord Milford to the rectory of his native Lampeter Velfre. He held this further mark of Picton Castle patronage until his death on 2 April 1793, aged 56. Apart from his eldest son Thomas, and two daughters who died in infancy, he left two sons and three daughters. John Philipps, the second son, settled in London as a merchant and married Lucretia daughter of James Pinnock of Jamaica, by whom he had a daughter Elizabeth, wife firstly of John James Ormsby and secondly of the Marquis de la Pron le Roy. Richard the third son died unmarried. Of the daughters, Mary Dorothea, the eldest, was married in London on 25 February 1796 to Nathaniel Phillips of Slebech, a prosperous former West Indian planter, as his second wife. Her mother, Catherine Philipps, died at Slebech on 6 May 1803, aged 55. The second daughter, Cecilia, became in 1801 the wife of Charles Allen Philipps of St. Brides, while the youngest, Catherine, married in turn Aldborough Richardson, of Wimpole Street, and Lt. Gen. the Hon. Sir Henry King. Unlike her elder sisters she had no children, but she was a devoted genealogist, and the loyal and affectionate champion at home of her brother in South Africa.

This was the family background of Thomas Philipps. He was evidently intended for the law. His father's death when he was seventeen with younger brothers and sisters to provide for must have been unsettling; and although he was described as of Gray's Inn in 1800, it does not appear that he took up law. On 30 July 1801 he was married at St. Mary's Islington to Charlotte Harriet Arbouin, of Highbury Place, Middlesex: his address was then 'City Chambers', that of his brother John. His bride was the fourth daughter of Matthew Arbouin, merchant of 17 Mincing Lane, son of Francis Arbouin, brandy merchant of the same place. Her father had died in 1792, four years after her mother. Her brothers Samuel and James were London merchants formerly engaged in the Bordeaux wine trade, 4 and her eldest sister Sophia was the wife of another merchant, Roger Harries of Islington, (d. 1839) who seems to have been a relative of Philipps on his mother's side, possibly even her brother. Thomas Philipps remained in touch with these other Harries connexions of his, and in 1830 welcomed their only child, William Mathew Harries and his newly wedded wife, Anna Maria, youngest daughter of Abel Walford Bellairs of Haverfordwest, as emigrants to South Africa."

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Thomas Philipps of Milford: Emigrant Extraordinary

In 1820 Thomas Philipps sailed from Bristol in the Kennersley Castle at the head of a hopeful band of over thirty Pembrokeshire emigrants to the Cape: they were a small contingent of the so called '1820 settlers' who gave South Africa its partly British character. Philipps was destined to become one of the pioneers of that settlement, and as such is commemorated in the South African Dictionary of National Biography. His South African career, as described in his letters to his family in Britain, can be studied in professor Arthur Keppel Jones' edition of this correspondence, published in 1960 under the title 'Philipps, 1820 Settler.' The economic advantages of emigration were a constant theme of Philipps' writings, both public and private. Soon after his arrival at the Cape, he wrote to Rev. Thomas Brigstocke, rector of Walwyn's Castle in his native county:

"... Farmers, carpenters, masons, in short all the country trades in the County of Pembroke will be most amply recompensed by emigrating to this Colony, and will always find employment. £6 a month is the common rate of pay for carpenters and masons. Many of them earn enough for their families, and if saving, to buy a couple of cows every month ..."

Such were the prospects for country tradesmen, but what made Thomas Philipps their prospector? The answer may be suggested by tracing the early career of this pioneer who found a degree of fulfilment in the 'heavenly climate' 2 of the Cape that was denied him under the greyer skies of home.

His origins were auspicious. On his father's side he was descended from one of those lost tribes of the ancient Welsh house of Cilsant who as the chieftains of the clan, the Philippses of Picton Castle in Pembrokeshire failed to produce male heirs hovered in the wings with great expectations. In 1776, the year of Thomas Philipps' birth, Sir Richard Philipps, 7th baronet, of Picton achieved his apotheosis as Lord Milford in the Irish peerage: but he had no son to inherit his glory. A son was born to his modest kinsman, Rev. Edward (or 'Ned' as he was known) Philipps, rector of Begelly, who had been presented to that living in 1767 by the gift of Lord Milford's widowed mother. This country clergyman's forebears had long been settled in Lampeter Velfre. 3 His father, Thomas Philipps, who died 1st May 1767 aged 65, was described on his memorial at Lampeter church as 'A kind husband, father and friend.' His wife's name was Dorothy. Rev. Edward Philipps (born 1737) was their youngest child. The eldest, Philipp, an attorney, married in 1759 Anne, daughter and heir of John Smith of Jeffreston, high sheriff in 1753, and left issue who made their home at Jeffreston ; the second son, John Philipps of Begelly died unmarried leaving his property by a will dated 11 April 1777, to his younger brother Edward. A daughter, Cecilia, died unmarried at Tenby in 1805.

Rev. Edward Philipps, a graduate of Pembroke College, Oxford, married, by a licence dated 5 December 1774, Catherine Harries, then of Cardigan, daughter of the late Rev. John Harries of St. Ishmael, Carms., Archdeacon of Cardigan, whose wife Mary Lewis was of a Lampeter Velfre family. Catherine had a brother Rev. Charles Harries, sometime of Panteague, Llandewi Velfre, who died vicar of Llangyfelach, Glam., in 1794, and two sisters Maria Elizabeth and Ann who lived as maiden ladies at Haverfordwest were the recipients of fond letters from their nephew in South Africa until their deaths in 1823 and 1833 respectively.

When Thomas Philipps was two years old, his father who was already a magistrate, was presented by Lord Milford to the rectory of his native Lampeter Velfre. He held this further mark of Picton Castle patronage until his death on 2 April 1793, aged 56. Apart from his eldest son Thomas, and two daughters who died in infancy, he left two sons and three daughters. John Philipps, the second son, settled in London as a merchant and married Lucretia daughter of James Pinnock of Jamaica, by whom he had a daughter Elizabeth, wife firstly of John James Ormsby and secondly of the Marquis de la Pron le Roy. Richard the third son died unmarried. Of the daughters, Mary Dorothea, the eldest, was married in London on 25 February 1796 to Nathaniel Phillips of Slebech, a prosperous former West Indian planter, as his second wife. Her mother, Catherine Philipps, died at Slebech on 6 May 1803, aged 55. The second daughter, Cecilia, became in 1801 the wife of Charles Allen Philipps of St. Brides, while the youngest, Catherine, married in turn Aldborough Richardson, of Wimpole Street, and Lt. Gen. the Hon. Sir Henry King. Unlike her elder sisters she had no children, but she was a devoted genealogist, and the loyal and affectionate champion at home of her brother in South Africa.

This was the family background of Thomas Philipps. He was evidently intended for the law. His father's death when he was seventeen with younger brothers and sisters to provide for must have been unsettling; and although he was described as of Gray's Inn in 1800, it does not appear that he took up law. On 30 July 1801 he was married at St. Mary's Islington to Charlotte Harriet Arbouin, of Highbury Place, Middlesex: his address was then 'City Chambers', that of his brother John. His bride was the fourth daughter of Matthew Arbouin, merchant of 17 Mincing Lane, son of Francis Arbouin, brandy merchant of the same place. Her father had died in 1792, four years after her mother. Her brothers Samuel and James were London merchants formerly engaged in the Bordeaux wine trade, 4 and her eldest sister Sophia was the wife of another merchant, Roger Harries of Islington, (d. 1839) who seems to have been a relative of Philipps on his mother's side, possibly even her brother. Thomas Philipps remained in touch with these other Harries connexions of his, and in 1830 welcomed their only child, William Mathew Harries and his newly wedded wife, Anna Maria, youngest daughter of Abel Walford Bellairs of Haverfordwest, as emigrants to South Africa."

See the complete extract of this article (Gareth Hicks May 2003)

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[Transcriber’s Note: An article on Thomas PHILIPPS in the National Library of Wales Journal 1977 XX/1 and reproduced at http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/ThomasPhilipps.html says:

“On 30 July 1801 he was married at St. Mary's Islington to Charlotte Harriet ARBOUIN, of Highbury Place, Middlesex: his address was then 'City Chambers', that of his brother John. His bride was the fourth daughter of Matthew ARBOUIN, merchant of 17 Mincing Lane, son of Francis ARBOUIN, brandy merchant of the same place. Her father had died in 1792, four years after her mother. Her brothers Samuel and James were London merchants formerly engaged in the Bordeaux wine trade, and her eldest sister Sophia was the wife of another merchant, Roger HARRIES of Islington, (d. 1839) who seems to have been a relative of PHILIPPS on his mother's side, possibly even her brother. Thomas PHILIPPS remained in touch with these other HARRIES connexions of his, and in 1830 welcomed their only child, William Mathew HARRIES and his newly wedded wife, Anna Maria, youngest daughter of Abel Walford BELLAIRS of Haverfordwest, as emigrants to South Africa.

In addition to the foregoing, a considerable amount of detail concerning Thomas Philipps (his forebears; his embarkation on the Kennersley Castle and his subsequent life with his family in South Africa) can be found in the following book:-

  • PHILIPPS, 1820 SETTLER ... His letters edited by Arthur Keppel-Jones in consultation with Philipps' great-granddaughter E.K. HEATHCOTE Published in Pietermaritzburg by Shuter and Shooter in 1960.
  • see pages 10 to 15 of Keppel-Jones' INTRODUCTION to the book (of 371 pages).
  • it is presumed that this book is now out of print (2013).

As a note of warning:-

Because of the Welsh ancestory, great care should be taken when researching surnames and entering them on family trees; for example ...

  • a Philipps is not a Phillips nor is it a Phillipps !!!

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  Posted on Monday, March 08 @ 22:10:54 CET   Topic: Newspaper Articles of interest.

14 Children died in Settler ship by Adam Brand - EP Herald August 1964

It was 144 years ago that several shiploads of men, women, children and their belongings, including animals, set sail from British parts to start new lives in faraway South Africa. Much has been written about the 1820 Settlers and I don't propose to bore you by repeating history. However, in reading a book by Professor Arthur Keppel-Jones called "Philipps" 1820 Settler (Shuter and Shooter) I was intrigued by the description of the voyage of one of the 21 Settler ships.

The book is based on the authentic letters of Thomas Philipps, one of the leaders of the Settlers. Philipps trained for the bar but turned later to banking. He was mainly interested in politics and when his hopes of a political career was dashed because of a quarrel with his influential patron, he decided to leave Britain for good.

He assembled a party in Pembrokeshire and his application for assisted emigration to the Cape was accepted. Early in January, 1820, Philipps, his wife Charlotte, their three sons and four daughters boarded the Kennersley Castle in Bristol. The Philipps family settled in the Albany district and it was Philipps himself who, on behalf of the British Settlers, presented the historic Bible to Jacobus Uys as he and his party were about to set off on the Great Trek. But back to the voyage to the Cape and Philipps first letter, which was written in diary form to a relative in England.

GALES

The first date in the letter is Tuesday, January 11, 1820 when the Kennersley Castle was still of the West Coast of Britain. Philipps describes how at about midnight the previous night a gale had suddenly sprung up and a sea, breaking in through the cabin windows washed 'poor Edward' (one of his sons) right out of his berth. "All our clothes got wetted and all our arrangements discomposed," Philipps wrote. The next day the gale continued. "Another child has died (the second) Both had been previously ill and both about 12 months old.

"The doctor gives us hopes that our numbers will not be diminished in the end and as we have several ladies in a forward state... Saturday, the 15th was "a lovely day, wind moderated, sun shone quite warm. We remained on deck all day, the Settlers all dined there and most refreshing it was to them" That evening they heard the sound of music and found out that a member of their party was playing the clarinet. "He was lugged to the quarter deck and during our dinner played us several airs, waltzes, etc. really well. Another gale sprung up early the next day. When daylight came, Philipps decided to investigate. "I ascended the ladder and on what a scene. We had only two sails set and we were lying to with the wind at S.E. directly in our teeth. The gales was still lashing the ship by the next Wednesday. The seaman seem a good deal worn and are wet and dry ten times a day with rain and sea-water. Not a Settler but ourselves to be seen on deck. The night of Saturday, the 22nd was the first quiet night we have passed. Sunday was a heavenly day. All mustered early on deck completely recovered and now all excellent sailors, everyone in their Sunday dress.

Fine weather continued with the ship averaging six to seven miles an hour. By now they were in the trade wind and crossed the Tropic of Cancer on January 31. Phillips gave this quaint explanation of the trade wind...

"The sails are never altered day or night. This is a most singular phenomenon and it is accounted for from the supposed great exhalation of air by the sun between the tropics which, creating a vacuum, the north-east wind is constantly rushing in to supply the deficiency."

ARK

On February 2 a very mild kind of measles broke out among the children aboard the Kennersley Castle. Philipps recorded that "the sheep are thriving most capitaily, and I think all danger of keeping them alive is over. They will be a treasure to me." Following calls at a few tropical islands, the ship resembled 'another Ark' with sheep, pigs, goats, monkeys, fowls, geese and dogs aboard. On Tuesday, February 8 Philipps wrote: "... Getting very hot. Measles and Hooping Cough very general."

Thursday, the 10th: "The shoals of porpoises this day amuse us highly. They swim around and leap up four or five feet. seemingly highly entertained to accompany us" Because of the heat...."There has been a cask fitted up aft and a screen around it. For the last two days we have been enjoying some delightful dips. The females are also able to bathe - the greatest possible treat."

On the 18th, two days before the ship crossed "the line" the temperature was 117 degrees Fahrenheit on deck. Phillips recorded on the 17th, "Another child died today, this makes the seventh, and we have had only had two births, so that we are diminishing. Would to fate that we could get over these calms and burning suns.." But soon they hit the north-east trade winds and were spanking on their way again.

February 23 "We are beginning to make bets as to our getting to the Cape by the end of ten weeks. A baby died that day and two more that night.."It is now become quite distressing and heart-rendering." Exposure seems to have been the cause of most of the deaths and by March 1, 14 children had died. By March 24, everyone was looking forward desperately to seeing the Cape. "Never did schoolboys long more the breaking up day than we do to tread on land once more.. On Sunday, March 26, land was sighted. Philipps said, "Now half-past one, Table Mountain is quite visible with all its accompanying rocks. "I had so often poured over maps and prints that the whole scene appears quite familiar to me."

One can imagine how great the excitement must have been aboard the Kennersley Castle. Seven o'clock (on the 27th) Behold us entering Table Bay by moonlight! Eight o'clock safe, thank heaven! Opposite to Cape Town.

"We this day eleven weeks ago left Lundy Island (off Bristol) and from land to land were only 75 days.

Transcribed from scrapbooks at the Port Elizabeth library that contains miscellaneous newspaper cuttings pertaining to the 1820 Settlers, by Becky Horne, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

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OBITUARY. - It is our painful duty to record the death of Thomas Philipps, Esq., of this city, which took place on Thursday, at the advanced age of 84. Deceased was the senior Justice of the Peace of the Colony, and during the early period of the British Settlement, frequently occupied the bench. Mr. Philipps was the son of a clergyman of the Episcopal Church in South Wales, and on leaving the parental roof engaged in banking pursuits in one of the Eastern Counties of England. At this time, as ever afterwards, he took a lively interest in politics, and these, we believe, led to his emigration. He came to this Colony as the head of a party of indentured servants in 1820, and was first located at Lampeter, near Bathurst, and afterwards, removed to a grant of land known as "Glendower", near the Kasuga, now the property of Mr. Cock. He subsequently removed to Grahamstown, where he found a cherished home in the family of Mr. Beck, but on the removal of Mr. John Carlisle to this city, Mr. Philipps went to reside with that gentleman, at whose house he died yesterday. The habits and disposition of the deceased, won him universal friendship, and none has been taken from us surrounded by such universal esteem. In public and private life he was marked alike by integrity and urbanity. In the great struggle for separation, Mr. Philipps' name must ever be recorded, and the part he took in leading many of our political movements are fresh in the memory of most of our readers.

We feel incompetent to do full justice to the memory of so good a man, or to bring out those bright features of his life, by which many might profit as examples, but we hope to be favoured by a fitting memoir from the pen of one who has known him longer and more intimately than we have done.

The remains will be interred to-day at St. George's Cemetery.

He was a Freemason, and first master of the Albany Lodge in this city. The funeral this afternoon will be with Masonic honours.

From the Grahamstown Journal.

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Thomas Philipps, SV/PROG 1's Timeline

1776
1776
Carmarthenshire, Wales
1801
July 30, 1801
Age 25
London, South Africa
1803
1803
Age 27
Pembrokeshire, Wales
1804
1804
Age 28
Wales
1806
1806
Age 30
Wales
1808
1808
Age 32
Wales
1810
1810
Age 34
Wales
1813
1813
Age 37
Pembrokeshire, Wales
1816
1816
Age 40
Wales
1859
September 1, 1859
Age 83
Eastern Cape, South Africa