Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Philips, Richard

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PHILIPS or PHILLIPS, RICHARD (1661–1751), governor of Nova Scotia, was born in England in 1661, and seems to have entered the army as lieutenant in Lord Morpeth's regiment of foot on 23 Feb. 1678. He served under William III in the war against James, and was present at the Boyne in 1690. Later he was commissioned to raise a regiment for service in New England, and was made its lieutenant-colonel in 1712; this regiment was afterwards the 40th foot. In 1717 he seems to have administered the province for some months, but returned to England before 1719, when he came out with a commission, as ‘captain-general,’ and with instructions to form the first separate council of Nova Scotia. He stayed at Boston from September 1719 till 6 April 1720, and was honourably received as the new governor (Sewall, Diary).

On his arrival at Annapolis, Nova Scotia, in April 1720, Philips found some difficulty in forming his council. He composed it largely of his own officers without reference to their military rank; this led to internal dissensions, which hindered Philips from dealing effectively with the discontent of the French settlers. The latter refused to take the oath of allegiance to the governor, and thus set on foot what is known in history as the Acadian affair. Philips seems to have inclined towards coercing the disaffected Frenchmen, but was discouraged by the home authorities. In 1722, accordingly, he went home for further instructions, leaving his lieutenant, Paul Mascarene [q. v.], to continue the struggle. He had returned to Annapolis by 1729, and came to a better understanding with the Acadians, making a beginning of local government for the French inhabitants. Returning again to England after 1730, he remained nominally governor, but neglected his duties. His deputy, Mascarene, according to his own account, could not properly attend to the needs of the troops because of ‘the parsimony or peculation of Philips.’ Philips apparently became a general before he resigned the government of Nova Scotia in 1749. He died in England in 1751.

[Collections of Massachusetts Historical Society, passim; Nova Scotia Historical Collections, vol. ii. 22–4, v. 69–76; Haliburton's History of Nova Scotia, i. 93; Drake's Dictionary of American Biography; Winsor's Hist. of America, v. 122, 409–10.]

C. A. H.