John Philipps 1801 Esgerva, Abernant -23rd Dec 1867




The Manor House, Kibworth Harcourt landowner, grazier, antiquarian.    

John Phillipps* was born  in 1801 at the farm Esgerfa in Abernant parish,Carmarthenshire.
John was the son of Jonathan Philipps (1765 Conwil Elvet -1849) and Catherine Howell (1770- 1849 of Rhydd y garreg ddu,Talog. Carmarthenshire.) John Philipps was also the nephew of John Howell - surgeon in the East India Company, whose memorial is adjacent to this in St Lucia’s Church, Abernant. Jonathan and Catherine Philipps had married on 1st June 1790 in St Lucia’s, Abernant.

From a family letter it would seem that John had been well educated. My guess being that this was paid for by his mother’s uncle the Rev Thomas Thomas living in Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire as John Philipps was the son of Catherine Howell- the Rev Thomas Thomas ’s sister,.

In 1823 the Rev David Lewis writes from Carmarthen to John Phillips’s uncle the Rev Thomas Thomas of Kibworth Harcourt describing the 22 year old John Phillips at Lampeter College thus…

‘I must not omit that he bears the best character for assiduity and regular deportment in school and at home: and such is the improvement of our country in dress, or rather perhaps the deterioration of it, that our Welshmen, in our great school, dress as well as in any part of England.’

After his uncle Rev.Thomas Thomas ’s death in 1826 John Philipps aged 25 undertakes renovations of the Manor House at Kibworth Harcourt.    

Three years later, John Phillips now aged 28 married Elizabeth Smeeton aged 19
on the 30th July 1829 at Kibworth Beauchamp  by license and with the consent of her  parents .

A son, John Smeeton Philipps was baptised on the 17th Nov 1830 at Kibworth Beauchamp

On the 1841 census John Philipps says that he is aged 35 and that he was born in 1806 in Abernant, Carmarthenshire. Making himself a little younger?  He is living in Kibworth Beauchamp with his wife Elizabeth who is now aged 30 who was born in 1811 in Leicestershire.
John and Elizabeth’s son John Smeeton Philipps is aged 11 and John’s mother in law Elizabeth Smeeton is aged 70 (born in 1771)  and living with them.
Their housekeeper Elizabeth Day is aged 20 ; she was born in 1821.

In 1846 John Philipps is living at the Manor House in Kibworth Harcourt.

On the 1851 census John Philipps is aged 50 and now a widower continuing to live at the Manor House  in Kibworth Harcourt. John is described as a Grazier of 30 acres with no labourers. His son born in 1851 John Smeeton Philipps is aged 20 and described as a hosier who was born at Kibworth Harcourt.

In a letter from  Richard Thomas at Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire Archives we learn that
John Philipps bought the Manor House at Kibworth Harcourt from his uncle the Rev Thomas Thomas’s estate for £4450 on the 5th November 1855.

Later in  1863 we learn that ‘John Philipps had rebuilt the Manor House, Kibworth Harcourt with twin gables and barge boards as well as putting up a wall around the garden and land.
The brick front with its twin gables and ornamental barge boards is evidently his work.
The garden wall also built by Philipps carries tiles dated 1475, 1690 and 1860.’
As both he and his uncle were local antiquarians there may be good evidence for the earlier dates. About 200 yards north of the house are two fishponds probably of medieval origin.’

See also his will below


Historic Gathering at Kibworth 1863
The Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society AGM

In August 1863 the above Society held its two day AGM in Kibworth
The following article is a transcript of a detailed report recorded in the Leicester Journal published on Friday, August 7, 1863.

‘In the afternoon a museum (temporarily formed in the National Schools by permission of the Rector) was opened to the members and the public.  In this exhibition the objects of antiquarian interest were numerous and interesting.  The list was as follows:-

John Phillipps Esq: Belt, court cupboard.

John Phillipps Esq: Queen Elizabeth’s Poem in her own handwriting, signed, Charles II’s autograph for signing the warrant to elect Wm Hanbury Esq, High Sheriff of the county of Northampton, December 1665.’

On the 7th August 1863 later that day The Manor House, the residence of J Phillips Esq,
was visited, and the many objects of interest to antiquarians there afforded much pleasure.

‘Mr Phillips, after a good old English fashion, requested the members of the company to partake of good and homely beverage.’

In the evening about forty of the principal gentlemen connected with the Society (whose names are given above) sat down to dinner at the Rose and Crown.  
Mr William Austin, the host, made admirable provision for his guests.

As soon as the dinner had concluded it was intimated that the time for the opening of the business of the meeting had arrived; and accordingly the company adjourned to the Grammar School, which the Rev J B Hildebrand had kindly placed at the Society’s disposal for the purpose specified.  A platform had been erected and upon it some of the leading members took their seats.  The room, which was of very small dimensions, was crowded so as to render the heat oppressive, especially to some of the ladies.’

John Philipps a letter to family in Wales.

On  1st December 1853 he writes…

‘Dear Sir,
I have seen the minister of the chapel this afternoon and he will send the rent down to you in about three weeks time, be so kind as to send me how much he owes you.There is no tithe in this parish and i can’t give you my account of other parishes.
You asked what family I have only one son and he is in a very good situation at Leicester in a country house, he is nearly 24 years of age and very steady. My dear wife has been dead 6 years last August, almost all your old friends at Kibworth are no more.
I shall be very pleased to see you at Kibworth to spend a week or two with me.
Let me know when you will be likely to come. I shall be in London about the 2nd of January for a week or two.
I was at Dublin last August and through North Wales and I enjoyed the trip very much.
Give my best respects to your family and let me know how many you have.
I remain,  dear  sir
yours truly
J Phillips

P.S.  I have one of best Durham bulls in the county 2 years old on the 13th of last month he has now served a great many cows this last summer at 6s per cow the mother was counted the best cow in the county and was got by one of the Marquis of Exeter’s bulls.

Copyright : Jeni Molyneux © 14th November 2019
(John Philipps was my 4x great grandmother’s brother.)

Ref: Information extracted from Family Letters  which were deposited at both the National Library Wales and Pembrokeshire Archives at Haverford West.


John Philipps  1806  -1867     …   his will dated  21st April 1866

in the county of Leicester Gentleman

"I appoint my son John Smeeton Philipps, my nephew Thomas Philipps of 182 Piccadily son of my brother Thomas Philipps and my friends Thomas George Langham of Oxford Terrace, London, Butcher and John Langham of Walton by Kimeck ( Walton in Knaptoft?)  in the county of Leicester, farmer joint executors of this my will.

I give the sum of nineteen guineas to my friend Emily Sarah Slatter * and the sum of ten pounds a piece to my three executors Thomas Philipps, Thomas George Langham, and John Langham.

I give and devise all my messuages tenements lands hereditaments and real estate ( but not including my leasehold property) unto and to the use of my said nephew Thomas Philipps the said Thomas George Langham and John Langham their heirs and assigns upon trust that they or the survivors or survivor of them or the heirs or assigns of such survivor or other the trustee or trustees for the time being of this my will do and shall absolutely  sell and dispose of the same and stand possessed of and interested in the purchase monies thereof upon trust (after payment thereout of any mortgage debt which may be on my said real estate or leasehold estate hereafter bequeathed and in exoneration of my leasehold and personal estate hereinafter bequeathed) to invest the same on Government or real security or on railway debenture with full power from time to time to alter vary and transfer the same and do and shall pay the interest dividends and annual produce thereof unto my said son for his life and from and after his decease

I direct my said trustees and trustee to stand possessed of and interested in the said principal trust monies, premises, stocks, funds and securities trusts, dividends and annual produce in trust for such child and children of my said son as shall be living at his decease and as shall attain or have attained twenty one years of age or be or have been married and for such issue of any deceased child of my said son as shall be then living and shall attain or have attained the said age or be or have been  married such issue and children respectively to take in equal shares as tenants in common if more than one but such issue taking such share only as is his her or or respective parents would be entitled to if living and in default of such child or children and issue in trust, to pay the interest dividends and annual produce  of the said trust monies  premises docks funds  and securities to my said nephew Thomas Phillips for his life and from and after his decease in trust as to the said trust monies premises stocks funds and securities for such child and children of my said nephew Thomas Phillips shall be living a his deceased as shall attain or have attained twenty one years of age or be or have been married and for such issue of any then deceased child my said nephew as shall then be living and as shall attain or have attained the said age or be or have been married such children and issue respectively to take in equal shares as tenants in common if more than one but such issue taking such share only as his her or their parent or respective parents would be entitled to if living and in default of such child children and issue then in trust for all and every my nephews and nieces living at my demise exclusive of the said Thomas Phillips in equal shares tenants in common if more than one to later per capita and not for stripes

I give full power and discretion during the life of my said son to my trustees and trustee for the time being to postpone the sale of my said real estate  or any part thereof and I direct until the same shall be sold that the rents and profits thereof shall be applied by them or him in keeping down the interest of any mortgage debt thereon or on my said household estate and subject thereto be applied in the same manner as the interest and annual produce of the purchase monies os such real estate would be applicable if the same were sold

 and I empower my trustees and trustee for the time being but without prejudice to any preceding estate or interest thereon to appropriate at discretion the annual income of any share in my property to which any person for the time being be presumptively or contingently entitled for his or her maintenance or education notwithstanding minority and I direct the unapplied income to accumulate and to be added to the share from which it may have been derived and subject as aforesaid I empower my said trustees and trustee to advance for the benefit of such person any part of his or her presumptive capital share  for his or her benefit or advancement in the world
I give unto my housekeeper Elizabeth Day and her assigns for her life the sum of twenty pounds per year.

 I give all my household and personal estate and effects subject and chargeable to and with the payment of my debts ( except mortgage debts as aforesaid ) and subject and chargeable to and with the payment of the said annuity and the legacies here fore unto given unto my said son absolutely.
I devise all real estate vested in me by way of mortgage security or on any trust unto and to the use of the said John Smeeton Philipps,, my said nephew Thomas Philipps, Thomas George Langham and  John Langham their heirs and assigns subject to and upon the several equities and trusts affecting the same

I direct a small tablet to be placed by my executors in the parish church of Abernant in the county of Carmarthen with the following inscription

‘ This tablet is placed to the memory of John Philipps son of Jonathan and Catherine Philipps late of Skyrfa in this parish ‘ with the date of my demise annexed. I revoke all former wills in witness whereof I have to this my last will and testament contained on four"

signed John Philipps


*Emily Sarah Slatter 28 Aug 1817 born Syresham, Northamptonshire .

On the 1861C Emily is a visitor with the Hamphrey family at Stoke Hall in Stoke Albany  where she is described as ‘formerly governess’.

On the 1881C Emily is 62 and an annuitant living with her widowed sister Arabella Thurnham in a lodging house 48, Belzize Road, Hampstead.

Emily dies aged 72 on 28 March 1890 at Stoke Albany.

Contributed by Jeni Molyneux (29/11/2019)