Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Philpott, Henry

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PHILPOTT, HENRY (1807–1892), bishop of Worcester, was the son of Richard Philpott of Chichester, where he was born 17 Nov. 1807. He was educated at the cathedral school in that town, and at St. Catharine's Hall, Cambridge, where he matriculated in 1825. His university career was distinguished. In 1829 he was senior wrangler and fourteenth classic, Lord Cavendish (afterwards Duke of Devonshire) being second wrangler; while in 1830 he gained the second Smith's prize, Cavendish being placed above him. He was admitted B.A. and elected fellow of his college in 1829, proceeding M.A. in 1832. He filled various university offices, acting as proctor in 1834–5, and as moderator and as examiner in the tripos five times between 1833 and 1838. He became, successively, assistant-tutor and tutor to his college. Dr. Blomfield, bishop of London, appointed him Whitehall preacher for 1837–9; while in 1844 Dr. Turton, bishop of Ely, made him his examining chaplain. In 1839 he was admitted B.D., and in 1845 was elected master of St. Catharine's. Annexed to this post was a canonry at Norwich.

As head of the college, he proved singularly successful, and took a prominent part in the life of the university. He was elected vice-chancellor for the year commencing 4 Nov. 1846, and in that capacity received the queen and Prince Albert, when the prince was installed as chancellor in 1847. From this time Philpott was in close touch with the court. He proceeded to the degree of D.D. by royal letters patent in this year, and was appointed chaplain and university correspondent to the new chancellor. His business capacity proved useful in enabling the university in 1856 to arrange a compromise with the town in regard to long-standing disputes as to their respective jurisdictions, and in assisting to reorganise the university itself after the changes made by the new statutes of 1854–5. The general appreciation of his services was shown in his re-election to the vice-chancellorship in 1856, and again in 1857. In 1860 he was nominated to the bishopric of Worcester.

His episcopal career was uneventful. Though he faithfully fulfilled the duties of his office, he disliked public life. He seldom attended the House of Lords; he never attended the Upper House of Convocation, and is said to have only once appeared at the private meetings of the bishops. He refused to allow diocesan conferences because, as he said, he had ‘a horror of irresponsible talk.’ He had few disciplinary cases with which to deal, but in them showed firmness and moderation. The case of the Rev. R. W. Enraght, the ritualistic vicar of Holy Trinity, Birmingham, in 1879, was almost the only one in which he felt compelled to press for the full application of the law. His long university experience led to his being nominated as vice-chairman of the Cambridge University commission of 1877, and he became its chairman in 1878, on the retirement of Lord-chief-justice Cockburn. He sympathised with the minority of the commissioners in not wishing to press too hardly upon the colleges. While bishop he acted as provincial chaplain of Canterbury, and was also clerk of the queen's closet. In 1887 he was elected honorary fellow of St. Catharine's College. In his later years he took great interest in the movement towards establishing a bishopric of Birmingham, and offered to allot 800l. a year from his own revenues to that purpose. Increasing age and his wife's ill-health compelled him to resign in August 1890, before the arrangements could be completed. He retired to Cambridge, where he died 10 Jan. 1892. He was buried at St. Mary's Church, Hartlebury, Worcestershire, 15 Jan. following.

He married, in 1846, Mary, eldest daughter of the Marchese de Spineto, who survived him. They had no children.

He published ten triennial charges during his episcopate, and edited 'Documents relating to St. Catharine's College, Cambridge,' Cambridge, 1861, 8vo. A portrait, presented to him by public subscription in 1884, hangs at Hartlebury Palace.

[Times, 11 and 16 Jan. 1892; Luard and Romilly's Grad. Cantabr.; works, especially Appendix to 'Charge' for 1886; Enraght's My Ordination Oaths, &c., London, 1880, 8vo; Skinner's Changes and Changes, &c., 1878, 8vo.]

E. G. H.