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Col. John Phillips, from Ulster to Camden Dist.SC in 1770; Loyalist to the Crown
Colonel John Phillips
John Phillips emigrated with his wife and seven children from Ulster to South Carolina in 1770 and settled at Jackson's creek in
The first manifestation of his loyalty was in July, 1775, when he prevented by his influence at a meeting held at the meeting house in his district all the people except two from signing the association to support the American cause. In the same year he refused an offer of a commission as lieutenant-colonel in the American militia. (The Royal Comm. on Loyalist Claims, 1783-1785, ed. by H. E. Egerton; Roxburghe Club, 1915, pp. 48-9.) From this time John Phillips was a marked man and suffered imprisonment for his attachment to the crown. Two sons were also imprisoned for loyalty, one of whom died in the jail at Orangeburg.
In 1780 when Lord Cornwallis inaugurated the loyal militia in South Carolina, Phillips was one of the first officers selected and was given the command of the Jackson's creek militia, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. His two sons, just mentioned, and a brother, Robert, joined his regiment.
Shortly after Tarleton's defeat atCowpens on January 17,1781, Colonel Phillips and a party under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel John Fanning were detached from the main force to escort to Camden the British officers who had been wounded in that battle. Four days later, however, this party was surrounded by a superior force of Americans, which outnumbered the loyalists by four to one, and in the skirmish several of the loyalists were killed or wounded, Colonel Phillips, with his son David, and his brother, Robert, being taken prisoners. In March of the same year Colonel Phillips was exchanged for Colonel David Hopkins and his brother (A.O. 13/133) was also exchanged and forthwith rejoined the loyalist forces.
This Irish loyalist was ordered by Lord Rawdon to accompany him to Charleston in August, 1781, when the command of his regiment devolved temporarily upon his son, David, who had the misfortune to be captured by Colonel Hampton and was "inhumanly murdered" by his captors. Soon afterwards, Colonel Phillips' wife and eight children were turned off his plantation and obliged to seek shelter in Charleston.
Colonel John Phillips received 150 acres of land on "Crocky creek," Catawba river, by the death of his widowed sister, Mary Dunsketh, in 1775, and of her only son in 1777. Robert Phillips, his brother, first bore arms on the side of the Crown in 1775. He was banished from South Carolina and took refuge in East Florida, where Governor Patrick Tonyn appointed him lieutenant in the East Florida Rangers. Anxious to see his family again, he resigned his commission in this corps and joined the force of Brigadier-General James Patteson, proceeding from Savannah to join Sir Henry Clinton at Charleston in March, 1780. On his arrival in South Carolina he joined his brother's regiment, the Jackson's creek militia, and was appointed lieutenant. The original petition of Robert Phillips bears his autograph signature; he died August 25, 1782, at Charleston. (T. 50/2, fo. 85; T. 50/4; T. 50/5.)
Captain James Phillips, mentioned on page 6, was another brother of Colonel John Phillips.
At one time in his military career Colonel Phillips was sentenced to be hanged for sedition and loyalty, and was defended at the trial by one Thomas Phepoe, an Irish lawyer who had emigrated in 1771 to Charleston, but was acquitted. (A.O. 13/132.)
Colonel Phillips was given the appointment of muster-master of the loyal militia and refugees at Charleston in 1782, when the Americans had virtually overrun the Province of South Carolina and the loyalists had left their homes in large numbers without
food or clothing and sought shelter at Charleston, taxing the resources of the British to provide them with the necessaries of life.
During this anxious time, the refugee hospital, crowded with unhappy loyalists, was in charge of Dr. Charles Fyffe, with Dr. Nathaniel Bullein as assistant surgeon. (T. 50/2; T. 50/4.) Some effort was made to provide the refugee children with education by a schoolmaster, one John Bell; some of these children's names have survived. (T. 50/5.)
The original memorial of Colonel John Phillips is endorsed by his fellow-countryman, Lord Rawdon, that no man in South Carolina had exerted himself more in his station for the support of government. (A.O. 13/79; The Royal Comm. on Loyalist Claims, 1783-1785, ed. by H. E. Egerton; Roxburghe Club, 1915, pp. 48-9.) With this memorial are (1) a letter from Lord Cornwallis to the commissioners of American Claims, introducing his as "my friend Col. Phillips of South Carolina, who has as much merit as any man on the Continent of America, & whom I beg leave very particularly to recommend to your favor"; and (2) Colonel Nisbet Balfour's certificate of 1 July, 1782, that "in his rank of life I have known none more worthy of it [an allowance] or a family who have suffered more from their fidelity to their King and country." Colonel Balfour also gave evidence in person before the commissioners and spoke highly of the services of Colonel Phillips in procuring intelligence of enemy movements, describing him as "honest and humane," and adding that he "never knew an instance of any of his reports which did not prove strictly true." Lords Cornwallis and Rawdon also gave personal evidence in support of the claim of Colonel John Phillips and expressed their appreciation of his services in the war, concluding with the testimony that they were more obliged to him than to any other person in his district in South Carolina.
Colonel John Phillips died in the country of his birth in 1809, and in his will, dated 4 May, 1807, he is described as of Ballyloughan in the parish of Ahogill, county Antrim. In this will are mentioned his wife, Elizabeth, otherwise Lurkan; two daughters, Rachel and Mary Phillips; and four granddaughters, Lilly and Ann McCrearys, Rachel Phillips and Lilly Jean Kirk. To his son, Robert, "if he comes home" (being presumably in America) he bequeathed his watch. His executors were Captain James Miller (see page 100), his daughter, Rachel Phillips, and Thomas Phillips of Ballyloughan. Jane, mother of Colonel John Phillips, was a close family connection of the Chesneys.
The sum of £860 was granted to Colonel Phillips by the British Government as compensation for the loss of his property in South
Carolina from his claim of £1,874. He also received a pension of £84 from 1784 until his death.
Source: The Journal of Alexander Chesney: A South Carolina Loyalist in the Revolution and After, by Alexander Chesney (1756-1845), published in the Ohio State University Bulletin, Volume XXVI, by the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, 1921; pgs. 60-63