Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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PHILLIPS , JAMES ( 1703 - 1783 ), cleric and antiquarian .

According to T. M. Rees ( Not. W. ), he was b. at Blaenau-y-pant , in the parish of Llandygwydd, Carms. ( sic for Cards.). O. Jones ( Cymru ) and Y Brython ( 1861 , 162) state only that he was ‘of Blaen-pant,’ which does not necessarily imply that he was born there. Foster ( Alumni Oxon. ) mentions a James Phillips who was the son of John Phillips of Lampeter Velfrey, Pembs. , and of Colby in the same county. This James Phillips matriculated from Jesus College in 1724?, graduated B.A. 1727, M.A. 1729/30, B.D. and D.D. 1743, and d. in 1783 . ‘Visitation Returns’ show that Dr. James Phillips was made vicar of Nevern in 1730, where he d. in 1783 , having been also from 1738/39 rector of Llangoedmor . His connection with Blaen-pant was temporary only. He lived there for ten or twelve years during the minority of colonel Owen Brigstocke 's father. He was thus able to make use of the excellent library collected there by Owen Brigstocke , the brother of William Brigstocke who had come into the estate of Blaen-pant on his marriage with the co-heiress. It was probably this library which stimulated him to take an interest in Welsh antiquities. He corresponded with Samuel Pegge , the English antiquarian , who referred to him on questions of Welsh antiquity. Phillips discussed matters raised by Pegge with Evan Evans ( Ieuan Brydydd Hir , q.v.) and Edward Richard of Ystradmeurig (q.v.) . Richard , in turn, showed both Pegge 's and Phillips 's letters to Lewis Morris (q.v.) . The latter, however, did not have a high opinion of Phillips , and once dubbed him ‘a half-antiquary’ (‘darn o antiquary’). Although all the antiquarian letters of Phillips that are extant, or known of, are dated from Blaen pant , his correct appellation is Dr. Phillips of Llangoedmor , as he is called, for example, in D. G. Osborne-Jones , Edward Richard of Y stradmeurig , 44. James Phillips m. a Powell of Nanteos , near Aberystwyth .


  • Notable Welshmen (1700–1900) (1908)
  • Cymru yn hanesyddol, parthedegol, a bywgraphyddol (1875) ;
  • Foster , Alumni Oxonienses ;
  • S. R. Meyrick , The History and Antiquities of the County of Cardigan (1808, 1907) ;
  • Cambrian Register (1795–1818) , i, 1795;
  • J. H. Davies , The Letters of Lewis, Richard, William, and John Morris, of Anglesey, (Morrisiaid Môn) 1728-1765 (1907–9) ;
  • Hugh Owen , Additional Letters of the Morrises of Anglesey (1735-86). Y Cymmrodor , xlix, (1947-9) ;
  • Y Brython , 1861 ;
  • NLW MSS 2039, 9269;
  • The Records of the Church in Wales at the National Library of Wales in N.L.W.


John James Jones, M.A., (1892-1957), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959