Henry Phillips papers
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Henry Phillips graduated with an M.A. from Harvard in 1724 and joined his brother Gillam in the book business, with some trading in lumber and fish on the side. He was said to be mild and studious, but he freqented Luke Vardy's Royal Exchange Tavern on King Street, where gambling was rife. It was at this tavern that Henry had a falling out with Benjamin Woodbridge, the son of a Barbadian Admiralty judge. On 3 July 1728 the two met on Boston Common, after dark, to duel with swords. Phillips suffered wounds to his belly and hands and abandoned Woodbridge with a chest wound. Phillips fled, leaving word to provide a surgeon for Woodbridge, but rescuers could not find the victim where directed. Woodbridge was found dead at 3am the following morning. After Henry Phillips fled the duel, his brother, Gillam, and friends attempted to dress Henry's wounds and then sucessfully smuggled him onto the British man-of-war, "Sheerness," which was about to depart Boston Harbor.
On August 13, 1728, Henry Phillips was indicted for murder. Phillips' friends remained loyal and by July 29 they had assembled a formidable petition, signed by ninety leading inhabitants, headed by the Governor himself, asking for grant of a pre-emptive royal pardon, which would quash the indictment and permit the exile to return.
Meanwhile, Phillips reached London and went on to La Rochelle, where his brother's brother-in-law, Peter Faneuil, had an uncle who took him in. Depressed and ill, Phillips died only four months later, having failed to sign his will.
Henry left an unsigned will, provoking a law suit, in which brother Gillam challenged the Massachusetts statute which awarded a good portion of Henry's estate to his mother and sister, Faith Savage. Under English common law Gillam would have inherited the whole of Henry's estate, but colonial Massachusetts statute law awarded a large portion to their mother and sister. Gillam challenged this award (Phillips v. Savage). The Province of Mass. helped Faith Savage contest the suit in London, reimbursing her legal expenses after her victory over Gillam.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Existence and Location of Copies
- Henry Phillips. Papers, 1728-1738: Finding Aid
- Harvard Law School Library, Cambridge, MA 02138
- EAD ID
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