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

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PHIPPS, HENRY, first Earl of Mulgrave and Viscount Normanby (1755–1831), statesman, born on 14 Feb. 1755, was the second son of Constantine Phipps, baron Mulgrave of New Ross, by Lepell, eldest daughter of John, lord Hervey [q. v.] of Ickworth. His elder brother was Constantine John, second baron Mulgrave [q. v.] He was educated at Eton, and on 8 June 1775 entered the army as an ensign in the 1st foot guards. He was promoted lieutenant and captain in 1778. On 30 Aug. 1779 he exchanged into the 85th foot as major, and on 4 Oct. 1780 became lieutenant-colonel of the 88th Connaught rangers. He exchanged into the 45th on 19 Jan. 1782. While in the guards he served with credit in several campaigns of the American war, was subsequently stationed in Jamaica and other West Indian islands, and served in Holland. He attained the rank of colonel on 18 Nov. 1790, and on 8 Feb. 1793 received the command of the 31st foot.

As a supporter of Pitt he was elected to parliament for Totnes on 5 April 1784, and for Scarborough on 11 June 1790. In the ‘Rolliad’ Phipps and his elder brother are characterised as ‘a scribbling, prattling pair’ (Rolliad, 4th edit. pp. 16, 294–5). In the House of Commons Phipps spoke with some authority on military questions (cf. Parl. Hist. xxvii. 1323–5, xxviii. 371). He actively supported both the home and foreign policy of Pitt, but disagreed with him on the questions of parliamentary reform and the slave trade. In speaking on 19 April 1791 against Wilberforce's motion for abolition, Phipps declared that, though he had been twelve months in Jamaica, he had never seen a slave ill-treated (ib. xxix. 334–5). In 1792 Phipps succeeded, on the death of his elder brother, to the Irish barony of Mulgrave of New Ross.

In the following year he was again on active service. Happening to be a visitor in Hood's ship in September 1793, Hood gave him the command, with the temporary rank of brigadier-general, of three regiments sent from Gibraltar to garrison Toulon at the invitation of its inhabitants. Mulgrave directed the strengthening of the outworks on the heights behind the city; but the command was eventually assumed by Lieutenant-colonel Charles O'Hara [q. v.], and Mulgrave, declining to serve in a subordinate capacity, returned home. In defending his conduct in the House of Commons on 10 April 1794, he said he never quitted a situation with more regret (Parl. Hist. xxxi. 250–2). On 13 Aug. 1794 he was created a peer of the United Kingdom, with the title of Baron Mulgrave of Mulgrave, Yorkshire. On 30 Dec. he took part in the debate on the address in the upper house, and defended the recent acquisition of Corsica. Lord Grenville described Mulgrave's performance as ‘the most brilliant first appearance in that house that perhaps ever was remembered’ (Phipps, Memoirs of R. P. Ward, i. 28 n.) He was gazetted major-general on 3 Oct. 1794, lieutenant-general on 1 Jan. 1801, general on 25 Oct. 1809, and became governor of Scarborough Castle on 20 March 1796. In 1799 he was sent on an abortive mission to the Archduke Charles's headquarters at Zürich, to concert with him operations in Switzerland against the French (Life of first Lord Minto, iii. 77n.) He also visited the camp of Suwaroff in Italy and the court of Berlin. On 7 April 1801 he declined the offer of the command of the troops in Ireland, and his military career was brought to a close. He continued, however, to act as one of the chief military advisers of Pitt, and, although holding no ministerial office, was his chief spokesman in the House of Lords until Pitt's resignation in 1801. During the period of the Addington ministry (1801–4) Mulgrave, following the advice of Pitt, supported the treaty of Amiens in the House of Lords (Parl. Hist. xxxvi. 175–7, 701–2). In constant communication with Pitt while the latter was out of office, he pressed him to return to power (13 Nov. 1802). During 1803 he frequently criticised Addington's policy with much severity, and incensed the king against him. But when Pitt's second ministry was formed in June 1804, Mulgrave obtained the office of chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, with a seat in the cabinet, and was sworn of the privy council. In the following January, when there was talk of Pitt's retirement, Mulgrave declared he would on no account serve in a ministry without him.

On 11 Jan. 1805 Mulgrave was raised to the responsible office of secretary for foreign affairs. The post was generally thought to be beyond his powers. T. Grenville, writing to the Marquis of Buckingham, expressed an opinion that he was only ‘put in ad interim until Lord Wellesley's arrival, who is expected in June’ (Courts and Cabinets of George III, iii. 404; Stanhope, Life of Pitt, iii. 161 n., 404). Mulgrave, however, showed himself fairly capable in debate. On 11 Feb. 1805 he had to announce the breach with Spain, and to defend the seizure of the treasure ships at Ferrol before the declaration of war (Parl. Debates, iii. 338–44), and on 20 June to defend the coalition of 1805 (ib. v. 465–7; Alison, Hist. of Europe, vi. 364–365). He composed an ode on the victory of Trafalgar (see Phipps, Memoirs of R. P. Ward, i. 171–2; Stanhope, Life of Pitt, iii. 371), and it was set to music by Dr. Arne. On 23 Jan. 1806 Pitt died. On 28 Jan. 1806 Mulgrave laid before the lords copies of the treaties recently concluded with Russia and Sweden, to which Prussia and Austria had acceded, and on 4 Feb. he explained their object. Three days later, on 7 Feb., he resigned, with the bulk of those who had been Pitt's friends.

While Lord Grenville's ministry of ‘All the Talents’ held office, Mulgrave took no prominent part in affairs. But on the formation of the Portland ministry in April 1807 he became first lord of the admiralty (cf. Parl. Debates, ix. 407–11, 590–1). His tenure of office was marked by the seizure of the Danish fleet, the Walcheren expedition, and the operations of Collingwood in the Mediterranean. He, Wellesley Pole [see Wellesley-Pole, William, Earl of Mornington], and an admiralty clerk, managed all the details of the Copenhagen expedition, and he sat up two or three nights copying out all the orders (Haydon, Autobiography, ed. Taylor, 2nd edit. i. 119). After the seizure of the Danish fleet Mulgrave offered a bounty with pay and victuals to three thousand Greenland fishermen to bring it to England. On 21 Jan. 1808 Mulgrave justified the expedition in the House of Lords (Parl. Debates, x. 31, 380–2, 656–8). On 26 Jan. 1809 he announced the determination of ministers to continue their support of Spain against Napoleon, and repudiated the theory that the British navy should be merely used as a home defence (ib. pp. 172–3). Mulgrave must be held to some extent responsible, owing to the obscurity and complexity of the admiralty instructions, for the comparative failure of the operations in 1809 against the French fleet in the Basque roads [see Cochrane, Thomas, tenth Earl of Dundonald; Gambier, James, Lord Gambier]. The misfortunes attending the Walcheren expedition he assigned to ‘adverse winds and unfavourable weather.’

Mulgrave retained his office under Portland's successor, Mr. Perceval, but resigned on the ground of ill-health in the spring of 1810. On 1 May he became master-general of the ordnance, still keeping his seat in the cabinet (Walpole, Perceval, ii. 79, 80; Phipps, Memoirs of R. P. Ward, i. 296). From this time he spoke rarely in the House of Lords. But after opposing the catholic demands in March 1812 (Parl. Debates, xxii. 60, 85), he in July supported Lord Wellesley's motion for taking them into consideration in the following session. He explained that he had been an enemy to all discussion of them while there was any probability of the king's recovery, but should now be for ‘granting the utmost concessions, not successively, but with a view to at once closing the question to the satisfaction of the country’ (ib. xxiii. 853–4). Thenceforth his vote was either given in person or by proxy for emancipation, until that measure was carried in 1828. On Perceval's death in June 1812 Mulgrave recommended the inclusion of the moderate whigs, with Canning and Wellesley in the cabinet, and was willing to retire to make way for them (Twiss, Life of Eldon, ii. 210; Phipps, Memoirs of R. P. Ward, i. 278). He was created Earl of Mulgrave and Viscount Normanby on 7 Sept. 1812, and retained office under Lord Liverpool until 1818, when, at his own suggestion, Wellington replaced him as master of the ordnance. The latter complimented him on the benefits which the department had derived from his superintendence (ib. ii. 10, 11), and the prince regent insisted that Mulgrave should retain a seat in the cabinet. In May 1820 Mulgrave finally retired, and was created G.C.B. He had in 1809 been appointed an elder brother of Trinity House, and vice-admiral of the county of York. He died at his seat in Yorkshire on 7 April 1831.

Mulgrave's talents both as a statesman and soldier were respectable, if not brilliant. He excelled as a debater, and in his military capacity was entirely free from professional jealousy. He discerned Wellington's merits in his early Peninsular campaigns, predicting that he would be a second Marlborough (Haydon, Autobiogr.) He was a lover and a connoisseur of art. Haydon, who described him as ‘a fine character, manly, perfectly bred, a high tory, and complete John Bull,’ found in him a generous patron, and he also befriended Jackson, the portrait-painter, and Wilkie. He suggested to Haydon his picture of Dentatus, for which he paid him 210 guineas, and commissioned Wilkie to paint ‘The Rent Day’ and ‘Sunday Morning.’ Mulgrave's collection, which was sold at Christie's in May 1832, contained Rembrandt's ‘Jewish Bride,’ Vandyck's ‘St. Sebastian shot with Arrows,’ a head of Christ by Titian, landscapes by Rubens and Claude, besides studies for several of Wilkie's chief pictures. A portrait of Mulgrave was painted by Sir T. Lawrence and engraved by Turner. Another by Beechey, engraved by Skelton, represents him as governor of Scarborough Castle. In an engraving by Ward, from a picture by Jackson, he is depicted in company with Sir George Beaumont and his own sons Augustus and Edmund.

Mulgrave married, on 20 Oct. 1795, Martha Sophia, daughter of Christopher T. Maling of West Herrington, Durham. She died on 17 Oct. 1849, having had issue four sons and five daughters. One only of the latter survived childhood. The two elder sons, Constantine Henry, first marquis of Normanby, and Sir Charles Beaumont, are separately noticed; the fourth, Hon. Augustus Frederick (b. 1809), is honorary canon of Ely and chaplain to the queen. Portraits of Lady Mulgrave were engraved by Cooper and Clint from paintings by Jackson and Hoppner.

The third son, Edmund Phipps (1808–1857), born on 7 Dec. 1808, matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, on 22 Nov. 1825, and graduated B.A. in 1828 and M.A. in 1831. He was called to the bar from the Inner Temple on 15 June 1832, and went the northern circuit. He was successively recorder of Scarborough and Doncaster. In 1847 he published a pamphlet entitled ‘The Monetary Crisis, with a Proposal for present relief and increased safety in future,’ in which he proposed to meet the existing depreciation in the value of property and the deficiency in floating capital by extensions of the Bank Charter Act of 1844. In the following year he issued ‘Adventures of a 1,000l. Note; or Railway Ruin reviewed,’ showing that railways were not the causes of the existing crisis, and that the stoppage of such undertakings would check the circulation of capital and aggravate distress. In 1854 he set forth the advantages of trust societies and public trustees in ‘A Familiar Dialogue on Trusts, Trustees, and Trust Societies between Mr. Arden and Sir George Ferrier.’ In 1848 he rendered into English blank verse through German versions the Danish poem ‘King René's Daughter,’ by Henrik Hertz; his rendering is contained in vol. xxxvi. of Lacy's ‘Acting Edition of Plays.’ Phipps was also author of ‘Memoirs of the Life of Robert Plumer Ward.’ He died on 27 Oct. 1857, at his house in Wilton Crescent, London. By his wife Louisa, eldest daughter of Major-general Sir Colin Campbell (1776–1847), sometime governor of Nova Scotia and Ceylon, he had a son, Edmund Constantine Henry (b. 1840), who was British minister at Brussels from 1900 to 1907.

[Lodge's Genealogy of the Peerage; Burke's Peerage, 1895; Doyle's Baronage (with a portrait, after Jackson); Ret. Memb. Parl.; Parl. Hist. vols. xxvi.–xxxvi. and Parl. Debates, 1st ser. passim; Lord Colchester's Diary, i. 264, 531, ii. 334; Alison's Hist. of Europe, iii. 116–118, vi. 364–5; Rose's Diary, ii. 133, 174–5, 201, 227, 248, 336; Stanhope's Life of Pitt, 1879, ii. 426, iii. 69, 86, 283, 371, &c.; Lord Malmesbury's Diary, iv. 108, 260, 380; Phipps's Memoirs of R. P. Ward, vol. i. passim, vol. ii. ch. i.; Buckingham's Courts and Cabinets of the Regency, i. 192, 252; Morning Post, 11 April 1831; Georgian Era, ii. 472; Young's Hist. of Whitby, ii. 866; Haydon's Autobiography, ed. T. Taylor, 2nd edit. i. passim; Cunningham's Life of Wilkie, vol. i. ch. v. and App. D; Cat. of the pictures of the late Earl of Mulgrave, together with fourteen works of D. Wilkie, esq., 1832; Evans's Cat. of Engr. Portraits; authorities cited. There are also several letters and despatches of Mulgrave in vol. ii. ch. ii.–v. of Lady Chatterton's Memorials of Admiral Lord Gambier, 1861. In Thornton's Foreign Secretaries of the Nineteenth Century, vol. i., is a highly eulogistic but diffuse sketch of Mulgrave's career, in which an account of the mission of 1799 is drawn from his letters to his wife. For Edmund Phipps, see also Foster's Alumni Oxon., where, however, he is confused with an uncle of the same name; Illustrated London News, 14 Nov. 1857, and works.]

G. Le G. N.