Robert Needham Philips

Robert Needham Philips DL (1815 – 28 February 1890)[1] was an English merchant and manufacturer in the Lancashire textiles business,[2] a Liberal Party politician, and the grandfather of the Whig historian G. M. Trevelyan.

He lived in Manchester and in Warwickshire,[2] and after holding at least three ceremonial appointments he was the Member of Parliament (MP) for the borough of Bury, a mill town which was then in Lancashire, for a total of 22 years between 1857 and 1885.[1]

Family and early lifeEdit

Philips was the youngest son Robert Philips, a merchant of The Park, Manchester, and his wife Anne née Needham.[2] His older brother Mark[3] (1800–1873) was one of the first two MPs to be elected for Manchester in 1832, after the Great Reform Act had given city parliamentary representation for the first time.[4] The family's extensive estate on the boundary of Whitefield and Prestwich, in Greater Manchester (now within the Metropolitan Borough of Bury), is now Philips Park.[3]

His father's business partnership, Philips, Wood & Co, was dissolved in 1844 after the death of both partners.[5]

The younger Robert was educated at Rugby School and at Manchester College.[2][6]

He married twice, firstly in 1845 to Anna Maria Yates, daughter of Joseph Brooks Yates[7] from Liverpool, who died in 1850.[2] He married again in 1852 to Anna Maria's cousin, Mary Ellen Yates from London.[2][8] His daughter Caroline was married in 1869 to George Otto Trevelyan (1838–1928), who was later a baronet; their youngest son was the historian G. M. Trevelyan (1876–1962),[9] and their eldest son was the Liberal MP Sir Charles Trevelyan (1870–1958), who later joined the Labour Party and served in Ramsay MacDonald's cabinets as President of the Board of Education.

His residences were listed in 1881 as The Park, Manchester, and Welcombe, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire.[2] He had inherited Welcombe House in 1873 on the death of his brother, and on his death the estate passed to his daughter Caroline.[10]

Business interestsEdit

He was a partner in a partnership of smallware manufacturers, with interests in Staffordshire, Lancashire, Westmorland and London, which was dissolved in 1855.[11] He was also engaged in a similar partnership which was restructured in 1867.[12] After his death in 1890 at the age of 75,[1] a further partnership was dissolved, which had involved a bleaching and dyeing enterprise at Bagley in Lancashire, and bobbin manufacturing at Staveley in Westmorland.[13]

Political careerEdit

Philips was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire 1853,[14] and of Warwickshire in 1855.[15] He was Sheriff of Lancashire from 1856 to 1857.[16]

He was elected as the MP for Bury at the 1857 general election,[17] but held the seat for only two years until he stood down from the House of Commons at the 1859 general election.[17] He stood again in 1865, after which he held the seat until he retired from Parliament of the United Kingdom at the 1885 general election.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "B" (part 6)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Mair, Robert Henry. Debrett's illustrated House of Commons and the Judicial Bench 1881. London: Dean & son. p. 187. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Philips Park Restoration Project". Bury Council. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  4. ^ "Mark Philips". Spartacus Educational. Archived from the original on 24 October 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  5. ^ "No. 20376". The London Gazette. 23 August 1844. p. 2957.
  6. ^ Several different institutions have borne the name Manchester College, or a variation thereof. It is unclear which of them is referred to by the entry in Debretts.
  7. ^ Walford (1882). County families. ISBN 9785871943618.
  8. ^ Pringle, Ian. "The Philips family of the Park Prestwich" (PDF). Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Sir George Otto, Bart Trevelyan". Encyclopædia Britannica 1911, Volume 27. 1911. p. 255. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  10. ^ The borough of Stratford-upon-Avon: Manors. A History of the County of Warwick:,Volume 3: Barlichway hundred. 1945. pp. 258–266. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  11. ^ "No. 21840". The London Gazette. 18 January 1856. p. 216.
  12. ^ "No. 23210". The London Gazette. 18 January 1867. p. 335.
  13. ^ "No. 26194". The London Gazette. 21 August 1891. p. 4509.
  14. ^ "No. 21485". The London Gazette. 14 October 1853. p. 2762.
  15. ^ "No. 21693". The London Gazette. 13 April 1855. p. 1458.
  16. ^ "No. 21845". The London Gazette. 1 February 1856. p. 365.
  17. ^ a b c Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 72. ISBN 0-900178-26-4.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Frederick Peel
Member of Parliament for Bury
Succeeded by
Frederick Peel
Preceded by
Frederick Peel
Member of Parliament for Bury
Succeeded by
Sir Henry James
Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
William Nield
President of the Manchester Statistical Society
Succeeded by
James Heywood