Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Phillips, John (fl.1570-1591)

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PHILLIPS, PHILIPS, or PHILLYPS, JOHN (fl. 1570–1591), author, who should be distinguished from John Philip (fl. 1566) [q. v.], was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge (Commemoration of Margaret, Countess of Lennox, 1578), but took no degree. He was a student of the classics, but in one place he describes himself as ‘student in divinitie’ and in another as ‘preacher of the Word of God.’ He inclined to puritanism, and was patronised by noble ladies of known puritan proclivities. It is doubtful if he were a beneficed clergyman. His extant edificatory publications were: 1. ‘A Friendly Larum or Faythfull Warnynge to the True-harted Subiectes of England. Discoueryng the Actes and Malicious Myndes of those obstinate Papists that hope (as they term it) to haue theyr Golden Day. By I. Phil. London (by William How for Rycharde Johnes) [1570],’ n.d. 8vo. This was dedicated to Katherine Bertie, duchess of Suffolk; copies are at Lambeth and in the Huth Library. 2. ‘A Balad intituled “A cold Pye for the Papistes.” … Finis. Iohn Phillip,’ London (by William How for Richard Johnes), broadside; the only copy known is at Britwell. 3. ‘A Fruitfull Exhortation given to all Godly and Faithfull Christians,’ London (by Thomas Dawson), n.d.; dedicated to Lettice, countess of Leicester. 4. ‘The Wonderfull Worke of God shewed upon a Chylde, whose Name is William Withers, being in the Towne of Walsam … Suffolk, who, being Eleuen Yeeres of Age, laye in a Traunce the Space of Tenne Days … and hath continued the Space of Three Weeks,’ London (by Robert Waldegrave), 1581, 8vo, with a long prayer appended; dedicated to Edward Denny (Brit. Mus.). 5. ‘The Perfect Path to Paradice, containing divers most ghostly Prayers and Meditations for the Comfort of Afflicted Consciences … also a Summons to Repentance,’ London, 1590, 12mo; dedicated to the Earl of Essex; an edition, dated 1626, 12mo, is at the British Museum.

To ‘A Sermon of Calvin … upon Heb. xiii. 13’ (London, 1581), Phillips appended ‘An Answere to the Slanders of the Papistes against Christe's Syllie Flock … quod J. P.,’ and to George Gascoigne's ‘Dromme of Doomes Daye,’ he added ‘A Private Letter the which doth teach Remedies against the bitternesse of Death, by I. P. to his familiar Friend, G. P.’

On the ‘Stationers' Registers’ appear entries of two books by Phillips, not otherwise known: ‘Precious Pearles of perfecte Godlines to be used of every faythfull Xpian, begonne by the Lady Fraunces Aburgavenny, and finished by John Phillip’ (7 Dec. 1577) (Lady Abergavenny was first wife of Henry Neville, lord of Abergavenny, and daughter of Thomas Manners, first earl of Rutland); and ‘The Rudimentes of Reason gathered out of the Preceptes of the worthie and learned Philosopher Periander, by John Philips, Student in Divinitie’ (26 April 1578). Abraham Fleming [q. v.], in his ‘Bright Burning Beacon’ (1580), mentions ‘John Philippes’ among those who wrote on the earthquake of 6 April 1580, but no book by Phillips on this topic is accessible.

Phillips was equally energetic as a writer of elegiac verse, and he is responsible for the four epitaphs, published in single folio sheets, all extant in unique exemplars, which respectively celebrated the wife (d. 7 July 1570) of Alexander Avenet, lord mayor of London (London, by Richard Johnes), in the Huth Library; Alderman Sir William Garrat (d. 27 Sept. 1571), London (by Richard Johnes), at Britwell; Margaret Douglas, countess of Lennox (d. 9 March 1577–8), London (for Edward White), at Britwell; Henry Wriothesley, earl of Southampton (d. 30 Nov. 1581), in the Huth Library.

More ambitious memorials of the dead were modelled by Phillips on the poems in the ‘Mirrour for Magistrates;’ in each the ghost of the person commemorated is made to relate his or her own achievements. The title of the earliest is ‘A Commemoration of Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox,’ London (by John Charlewood), 1578, in seven-line stanzas; copies are in the British Museum and at Britwell. The countess's ghost introduces into her biography an elaborate panegyric on Queen Elizabeth. ‘The Life and Death of Sir Phillip Sidney, late Lord Gouernour of Flushing. His Funerals solemnized in Paules Churche, where he lyeth interred; with the whole Order of the Mournfull Shewe as they marched throwe the Citie of London on Thursday, the 16 of February 1587,’ London (by Robert Waldegrave), was dedicated to the Earl of Essex. The poem, in seven-line stanzas, is somewhat uncouth. It opens with the line (Sidney's ghost is speaking)

You noble brutes, bedeckt with rich renown

(brutes = Britons). A unique copy is in the British Museum. It is reprinted in Butler's ‘Sidneiana.’ A like ‘Commemoration of Sir Christopher Hatton,’ in six-line stanzas, appeared in 1591, London (by Edward White), and was dedicated to Sir William Hatton. The only copy known, formerly at Lamport, in the possession of Sir Charles Isham, is now at Britwell. It was reprinted in ‘A Lamport Garland,’ edited for the Roxburghe Club by Charles Edmonds, 1881. A slightly less lugubrious romance in fourteen-syllable ballad metre by Phillips is ‘A rare and strange Historicall Nouell of Cleomenes and Sophonisba surnamed Juliet. Very pleasant to reade,’ London (by Hugh Jackson), 1577, 8vo; dedicated to George Fiennes, lord Dacre. Arthur Broke had published in 1562 his ‘Historie of Romeus and Juliet,’ in which the name Juliet is first introduced into English literature.

Another John Phillips (d. 1640), who was a graduate of Cambridge (M.A. and B.D.), and vicar of Faversham, Kent, from 1606 till his death in 1640, published in 1625 ‘The Way to Heaven’ (London, 4to). This was an expansion of a funeral discourse on a friend, Edward Lapworth, M.D., a reputed papist [see under Lapworth, Edward, 1574–1636].

[Hunter's MS. Chorus Vatum in Brit. Mus.; Addit. MS. 24488, f. 69; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 99; Collier's Poetical Decameron, ii. 50–2, 125–6, his extracts from Stationers' Registers, 1557–70 pp. 148–9, 1570–87 pp. 48–52, and his Bibliographical Account, ii. 155–9; Hazlitt's Bibliographical Collections; information kindly given by R. E. Graves, esq.]

S. L.