Scourfield was born John Henry Phillips, the son of Owen Phillips of Williamstown, Pembrokeshire, Wales and his wife Ann Elizabeth Scourfield, niece of William Henry Scourfield of the Mote and Robeston Hall. He was educated at Harrow School and at Oriel College, Oxford graduating BA 3rd class in classics in 1828 and MA in 1832.
He was a Deputy Lieutenant and J.P. for Pembroke and chairman of the Quarter Sessions of Pembroke. He was also High Sheriff of Pembrokeshire in 1833 and Lord-Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum of the borough of Haverfordwest. In 1862 he assumed the name of Scourfield by Royal Licence on succeeding to the estates of his maternal uncle.
At the 1852 general election Scourfield was elected Member of Parliament for Haverfordwest and held the seat until 1868. In 1857 he narrowly held on to the seat by two votes over the Liberal candidate William Rees, in a contest characterised by accusations of intimidation.
At the 1868 general election he was elected MP for Pembrokeshire and held the seat until his death aged 68 in 1876. He was created a baronet by Disraeli on 18 February 1876 but died the following May.
He was against the Women's Disabilities Removal Bill, an early women's suffrage bill. He argued, in May 1872, that the novelist Jane Austen would be, too, were she alive. Scourfield argued this by using a quotation from Austen's novel Emma (1816), which was itself a quotation from Oliver Goldsmith, taken out of context. This appears to be the first time that Austen's name was referenced in official business in parliament.
He was the author of a number of published plays and poems.
Scourfield married in 1845 Augusta Phillips, daughter of John Lort Phillips of Haverfordwest and Llawrenny Park, Pembrokeshire. They had two sons, the eldest of which, Owen, succeeded to the baronetcy (which became extinct on his death).
- Debretts House of Commons and the Judicial Bench 1870
- "Haverfordwest Election". Welshman. 4 April 1857. p. 5. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "P" (part 1)
- Looser, Devoney (2017). The Making of Jane Austen. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 141–42. ISBN 978-1421422824.
- "John Philipps". CricketArchive. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
- "SCOURFIELD , alias PHILIPPS , Sir JOHN HENRY". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for Haverfordwest
1847 – 1868
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