The Philpot Family

(Variously recorded as Fellpotts; Felpot; Phellpots; Phillpotts; Philpotts; Philpot; Philpots and Phillpot.)

Whilst there are snippets of information about the Philpot family in historical records, there is no indication that anyone has studied this family in any great detail, despite their role in local and national politics, and their links to those who feature prominently in the County’s history.

This article therefore aims to rectify this by telling the story of a family arguably driven by dynastic ambitions; achieving political influence, status and wealth – even if the pursuit of this was to the detriment of their own kin.

Although there is some uncertainty as to the origins of the Philpot family, evidence suggests that they were most active in the County throughout most of the 17th and early 18th century and therefore what follows is mainly focussed on that time.

Thomas Philpot

Thomas Philpot was born in 1567 and married Elizabeth Carr (Carre) who was born in Bushley, Worcestershire.

Elizabeth’s parents were Nicholas Carr and Wynefred Lygon* (see below), and her grandfather was George Carr who bought a 99 year lease of Bushley Park from Bishop Ridley in 1551. Now Bishop Ridley took over the post of Bishop of London after Bishop Bonnor was imprisoned by King Edward……however when Queen Mary restored Bonner to his See in 1554, he tried to thrown George Carr off the land so that he could transfer the lease to his friend Mr. Lechmere. He didn’t succeed though, and the Carr family saw out the lease.

Anyway, back to the Philpots and together Thomas and Elizabeth had just the one child, Nicholas.

Thomas died in 1658, having made his will in which he left all his estate to his son Nicholas who was the sole Executor.

Elizabeth’s Will named two brothers, John and Tobias and a sister Anne – she also left money to the poor of St. Thomas Parish in Bristol and the poor of St. Nicholas in Worcester, as well as her son Nicholas, and his children Nicholas and Henry, Elizabeth and Anne. There were also five other unnamed children.

It is possible that Thomas’s father was Watkin Philpot, who died in 1592 but this has yet to be proved.

(Watkin married Sybil Rogers in 1567 (also written as Watkyn Phelpott and Syble Rogers) and this pair had at least six children, namely:

Watkin left a Will in which he donated 10 shillings towards the repair of Vowchurch church, and left money to his daughters Margaret, Ann and Margery resulting from annual rent of the Tithe and Manor of Vowchurch. He left his youngest son Roger all the lands that he owned, and the rest of his possessions to his son Harry. He did state that if his eldest son Thomas paid Roger £10 then he could own the land and there surely must be a story behind that sentence! This is the tenuous link to Thomas, and the only one that can so far be found.)

(The Lygon Family
Lived at Madresfield Court.

The Lygon family of Madresfield Court, Worcestershire, are themselves very interesting. Wynefred was the daughter of John Lygon (1494-1597) and Eleanor Hickford (1510-1567). John Lygon was the son of Sir Richard Lygon (1466-1512) and Lady Anne de Beauchamp (1462-1535). Anne’s father was Richard de Beauchamp (2nd Baron of Powick) [2] . His father was John Beauchamp, 1st Baron Beauchamp of Powick [3]. Basically, it is possible to trace their ancestry to Geoffrey V Plantagenet (The Duke of Anjou, husband to Empress Matilda and father of Henry II. Therefore, anyone descended from this Thomas Philpot and Elizabeth Carr/Carre union can trace their ancestry back over 1000 years)

Nicholas Philpot (1)

Nicholas Philpot (1615-1681) who married Mary Alye in 1641. Mary hailed from Hartpury in Gloucestershire, and between them they apparently had at least 8 children, six of which were:

Nicholas 1643 – 1683
Elizabeth b. c 1650 – died c 1716, married Augustine Ballow
Sarah married 1673 to Henry Meredith then later, the Rev. Bulkeley
Katherine married Edmund Lloyd

Nicholas either owned or leased the Poston Estate in Peterchurch, Vowchurch and Tunastone where he was patron in 1678, 1672 and 1677 respectively. He was a wealthy lawyer, being a member of the Middle Temple, but his life was not without controversy. At one time in the 1640s he was Clerk to the “Committee” of Hereford but he was dismissed……possibly in connection with scheming against the ‘pro Harley committee’. Then in 1647 he faced charges of delinquency, but after his home was searched and estate surveyed prior to a planned sequestration he was cleared of the charges.

In 1649 – 1652, and then again in 1660 – 1670 Nicholas was Clerk of the Peace

Nicholas died in London in 1681 aged 66. His Will requested that he be buried wherever he died and that £5 be given to the Churchwardens for the poor of that parish. Apart from many bequests to his family, he also left £5 for mourning to his “honest and trusty” servant John Hill along with a £10 legacy and a good reference for his next employer.
He left all his land and estates to his son, Nicholas or his male heirs.

Although Nicholas is buried in London as per his wishes, there is a slab memorial in the vestry of the church at Turnastone.

Will of Nicholas Philpot (1)

‘PHILPOT, Nicholas – of the City of Hereford, gent, 29 May 1681.
to be buried in whichever parish I die in and £5 to the Churchwardens for the poor of that parish.
to my grand-daughter Mary PHILPOT – £400 for her [marriage] portion and Ploughfield Farm [probably at Preston-on-Wye] for which I paid £600 and settled upon her so that her entire fortune would be £1000.
(for mourning) I give my eldest son and his wife £10, my son Henry £5, my son [-in-law] BALLOW and his wife £10, son[-in-law] WELLINGTON £5, son [-in-law] LLOYD and wife £10, my daughter MEREDITH[1] £5; my said grand-daughter Mary PHILPOT £5 and every one of the rest of my grandchildren 40/- apiece.
daughters Elizabeth BALLOW and Katherine LLOYD (wife of Edmund LLOYD of St Mary Woolnoth, London, citizen and grocer) – an annuity of £5 per annum each for life (paid quarterly) derived from my freehold lands in the parishes of Vowchurch, Turnastone and Peterchurch.
my honest and trusty servant John HILL – £5 for mourning and a £10 legacy [and a handsome reference for his next employer]; all of my daughter MEREDITH’s servants – 20/- each.
Executor: eldest son Nicholas PHILPOT; friends Dr ??? HARTORD and Mr John LLOYD [?senr] of Covent Garden – 40/- each for mourning.
Further Bequests: Any lands estates etc to son Nicholas and heirs male &c. (if any) else to my sons-in-law Augustine BALLOW[3] and John WELLINGTON[4] and my cousins Richard CLARK of Walford (and his brothers Stephen and Henry CLARK); leasehold lands in Bodenham and Lyde; cousin Thomas LANDON now dec’d. Signed by the Testator.
Witnesses: Richard WADELEY, William WADELEY and Thomas MOORE.
Proved PCC London 15 Nov 1681.

Notes: The Testator was the only child of Thomas PHILPOT(T) of Vowchurch co Hereford (but described as of Ludlow in the Visitation of Gloucestershire of 1623) by his wife Elizabeth daur of Nicholas CARRE of Bushley [? near Tewkesbury] co Gloucester. Nicholas owned or leased the Poston estate in Peterchurch, Vowchurch and Turnastone and was named as the patron of the first in 1678 and of Turnastone 1672, 1677. In 1676 he was living in the parish of St Mary Woolnoth in London (where he was buried) and died 9 Jul 1681 aged 66. He married Mary daur of Edward ALYE of Gloucestershire by whom he had 4 sons and 4 daughters of whom the eldest son (Nicholas) died 1683 aged 40 and is commemorated by a large slab memorial in the Vestry at Turnastone.

The Testator was a cousin of William PROSSER who bought the Snodhill/Snowdle estate in Peterchurch c.1660 and was still alive in 1677 [see his brother Thomas’s Will proved 1685].
[2] Sarah PHILPOTT married firstly 1673 at Vowchurch Henry MEREDITH and then the Revd Mr BULKELEY.
[3] Augustine BALLOW of St Mary Woolnoth, London; married 1671.
[4] His wife Anne died 28 Jul 1676 and was buried in Hereford Cathedral.’

Elizabeth Philpot and the Philpot Coat of Arms

Nicholas (1)’s daughter Elizabeth married Augustine Ballow in 1671 – a successful and wealthy merchant from Norwich in Norfolk and the son of Henry Ballow and Prisca Skottowe .
The couple had several children, the first of which was Prisca Ballow born in 1672 (died 1730) who married in 1689 Rowland Holt, the son of Sir Thomas Holt and brother of Sir John Holt, Lord Chief Justice.

In 1862 it was noted in Notes and Queries: a Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, that Elizabeth Philpot had made the claim that she was descended from John Philpot the martyr, and although a couple of questions were raised about this claim, it is clear from the records of the Heraldry of Herefordshire 1828 that the coat of arms for the Philpots of Poston, Herefordshire is almost exactly the same as those of John Philpots the Martyr.

Nicholas Philpot (2)

Nicholas Philpot mark 2 was born circa 1646, and at the age of 17 attended Oriel College, Oxford. He went on to marry Penelope Howard (or Haward) of Fletherhill, Rudbaxton in Pembrokeshire, the daughter of James and Anne Howard, and the couple had two children,

1. Nicholas (B? – 1732)
2. Mary – (1667-1685) You will recall that provision had been made for Mary in Nicholas’ (1) will and indeed substantial provision was made for her by her own father Nicholas (2). However, she died, aged just 18, shortly after marrying William Tranter in Herefordshire in 1685. She too is buried at Turnastone.

Nicholas barely had time to take stock of his inheritance from his father, when he himself died in 1683 and was buried at Turnastone, the bulk of his estate eventually passed to his son, yet another Nicholas Philpot. Wife Penelope was provided for in the Will, but two years later she decided to marry Sir Charles Hamilton, 2nd Baronet, in 1685; a little unlucky in love, she was again widowed when Sir Charles died in 1689. Nothing daunted, Penelope married yet again – this time to the Hon Richard Butler, son of Richard Butler 5th Viscount Mountgarret ( who had his lands seized for backing James instead of William). (The provider of this Philpot story discovered sources that claimed Penelope was merely living with Richard, however he discovered in the National Archives that she is described as Dame Penelope Hamilton Butler – wife of Richard).

In 1697 she and Richard even brought a case against her own son Nicholas; Penelope wasn’t adverse to litigation as even as early as 1662 she was the plaintiff in a case against her own mother and uncle for the Manor of Merton, lands in Herefordshire and Pembroke.

Nicholas Philpot (3)

The third Nicholas in the line up was the son of Penelope Haward/Howard and Nicholas Philpot (2); born in Herefordshire, Nicholas 3 also lived at Brockhill in Edgeware (what used to be Egeworth) North London, just a stone’s throw away from the James Brydges palace in Harrow Hill – convenient as Nicholas was agent/secretary to James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos, and was probably a lawyer given that he managed many of the Duke’s legal and property affairs. He was also made accomptant of the muster rolls as at the time James Brydges was paymaster general of the forces abroad and had made a great deal of money from that position. Brydges and his friends all appeared in the book “Corruption, Party and Government in Britain 1702 – 1713”.

Nicholas had the backing of Brydges when he ran for MP for Hereford in 1715, but he was defeated. It seems that he married twice, as his eldest son (Nicholas 4) was baptised in 1695 at St. Nicholas in Hereford to him and a woman called Mary, however in 1700 Nicholas married Mary Valmer in Bristol, with his mother’s third husband, Richard Butler mentioned on the marriage bond. Unless of course it was one and the same Mary, and they just didn’t get around to marrying until later! Unlikely I would have thought.

Guy’s Hospital London was a major benefactor of James Brydges’ estate, including lands in Herefordshire (which I believe the hospital sold eventually in the 1960’s). Nicholas (3) appears to be the main person managing this, but on his death Mary (his widow) becomes a trustee and then after her John (shown below) takes on the role. Therefore, the post must have been hereditary for some reason…most likely they got some financial benefit from it.

Nicholas and Mary Valmer went on to have the following children, with all but James being baptised at St.Nicholas, Hereford.

1. John (b.1701)
2. Henry (b.1702)
3. Richard (b.1703)
4. Edward (b.1704)
5. Mary (b.1706)
6. James (b.1709)

On his death, Nicholas left a vast estate with lands in Edgeware, Herefordshire and Clifton. In his will dated 1727 he leaves his entire estate to his son John, Mary and ‘her heirs’. There is no mention of Nicholas (4) at all in the will. Although both Nicholas 3 & 4 die in 1732, I am unsure who died first.

There is a lot on the National Archives website about Nicholas Philpot (3) and two of the documents in their catalogue relate to invitations to dinner to Nicholas (4) asking him to explain the detention of the Edgeware Petty Sessions Minute Book ….sounds like he was up to no good, but in what way I do not know.

Nicholas Philpott (4)

Nicholas Philpot (4) was born 1694/1695 to Mary (surname unknown) and Nicholas Philpot (3), and was baptised at St. Nicholas in Hereford on 1st January 1695.

He married Elizabeth Hawksmoor, the daughter and only child of the renowned church architect, in around 1724, and was elected MP for Weobley twice, in 1718 and 1722. It seems that he basically bribed his way into the seat with the financial backing of the Tories and he was selected for being obedient to the whip.

Unfortunately he shot himself in the head on 6th July 1732 – being described by the Gentleman’s Magazine as a “lunatic” – a term which in those days was used to encompass many perfectly sane people who just happened to do something out of the ordinary!

Perhaps Nicholas (4) shot himself on finding out he was not to inherit his father’s estate!

The above information is provided by Christian Horton – if anyone has anything further to add to this family then please do contact me.