Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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PHILLIPS , Sir THOMAS ( 1801 - 1867 ), barrister and author ;

b. in 1801 at Ynys-garth , Clydach , in the parish of Llanelly , Brecknock , the son of Thomas [who d. at Llanellen , 6 Jan. 1845 , aged 80] and Anne Phillips . In his youth the family moved to Trosnant , near Pontypool . He was articled to Thomas Protheroe , an attorney of Newport , and became his partner. The two men took an active part in local politics in the period of the Reform Act , and, in 1838 , Phillips became mayor of Newport . Towards the end of his period of office, on 4 Nov. 1839 , occurred the Chartist march on that town. Phillips was wounded in the rioting at the Westgate Hotel , and afterwards honours were showered upon him for his share in repelling the Chartists , including a knighthood and an invitation to dine with the queen , a subscription of £800, and the freedom of the city of London ( 26 Feb. 1840 ). He gave up his partnership and was called to the Bar on 10 June 1842 . He had a highly successful career as a Chancery barrister , and he also became a colliery proprietor . In later life he lived at Llanellen , near Abergavenny . He d. in London on 26 May 1867 , and was buried at Llanellen . He was not married.

He was very active in educational work , both as governor of King's College , London , and in furthering the work of the (Anglican) National Society in Wales . In this cause he gave generously from his private fortune. He devoted much time and labour to collecting material to refute the aspersions of the educational commissioners of 1846 in Wales , and his masterly book, Wales, the Language, Social Condition, Moral Character, and Religious Opinions of the People considered in their relation to Education , 1849 , remains his chief claim to fame. He also wrote a wholly delightful biography of James Davies ( 1765 - 1849 ) (q.v.) , the pedlar schoolmaster of Devauden , The Life of James Davies, a Village Schoolmaster , 1850 .


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • John Morgan , Four Biographical Sketches Bishop Ollivant, Bishop Thirlwall, Rev. Griffith Jones, Vicar of Llanddowror, and Sir Thomas Phillips, Q.C. ; with a chapter on 'The Church in Wales' (London, 1892) , 1892 ;
  • David Williams , John Frost, A Study in Chartism (1939) , 1939.


Emeritus Professor David Williams, D.Litt., (1900-78), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959