Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Phillips, Catherine

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PHILLIPS, CATHERINE (1727–1794), quakeress, daughter of Henry Payton of Dudley, Worcestershire, by his wife Ann, daughter of Henry and Elizabeth Fowler of Evesham, in the same county, was born at Dudley on 16 Jan. 1726–7. Her parents were devout quakers, and, her gift of pious oratory becoming conspicuous at an early age, she entered the ministry in 1748. Thenceforth she went on annual preaching tours among the Friends, visiting Wales, Cornwall, Ireland in 1751, and Scotland in 1752. In 1753 she sailed from London to Charlestown, traversed the whole of Carolina, and prolonged her stay in the New England colonies until 1756. In the following year she sailed from Harwich on a missionary tour in Holland, preaching to the natives by means of an interpreter. Her marriage at Bewdley, on 15 July 1772, to William Phillips, a widower, in the copper-mining business, proved no impediment to her itinerant preaching. After her husband's death, however, in 1785, her health declined, and her faculties seem to have decayed. She died at Redruth in Cornwall on 16 Aug. 1794, and was buried at Kea. Her son James was father of Richard Phillipps (1778–1851) [q. v.], and of William Phillipps (1775–1828) [q. v.]

Two years after her death appeared the autobiographical ‘Memoirs of the Life of Catherine Phillips, to which are added some of her Epistles,’ London, 1797, 8vo, a strictly edifying work, testifying to the writer's conviction of divine guidance in every circumstance of life. These ‘Memoirs’ were reprinted in the ‘Friends' Library,’ edited by William and Thomas Evans of Philadelphia (1847, vol. xi. pp. 188–287), and abridged by the Religious Tract Society in 1835. Minor works, in addition to printed addresses and letters, are: ‘Considerations on the Causes of the High Price of Grain … with occasional remarks,’ 1792, 8vo; ‘Reasons why the People called Quakers cannot so fully unite with the Methodists in their Missions to the Negroes in the West India Islands and Africa as freely to contribute thereto,’ London, 1792, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1793; and ‘The Happy King, a Sacred Poem, with occasional remarks. Respectfully addressed to George III,' privately printed, 1794. Mrs. Phillips is said to have had considerable knowledge in medicine and botany, and to have 'published something on planting and beautifying waste grounds,' but no such work appears to be known. Some of her discourses are appended to those of Samuel Fothergill [q. v.], published in 1803, and some letters are printed in John Kendall's 'Letters on Religious Subjects,' 1805, vol. ii.

[Memoirs of Life of Catherine Phillips, 1797; Gent. Mag. 1795, i. 259; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. ii. 479; Biogr. Dict. of Living Authors, 1816, p. 271; Smiles's Lives of Boulton and Watt, p. 352; Smith's Catalogue of Friends' Books, ii. 405-6 (with full bibliography); Crosfield's Memoirs of Samuel Fothergill, 1857, pp. 440-1; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. S.