Sir Thomas Phillipps & Shakespeare

A collection of manuscripts and printed documents regarding his family’s pedigree and its links to the family of William Shakespeare.

Folio (350 x 225 mm.), all bound into Middle Hill boards (spine a little defective). Middle Hill: 1854-64.

Sir Thomas Phillipps was an insecure man; illegitimately born, with a great-grandfather who was a London carpenter and a farmer grandfather, Sir Thomas had much to prove. He was raised, without a mother, by a distant and irascible father who wanted his son to become the first gentleman of the family. His father-in-law enabled Sir Thomas to be made a baronet, and “thereafter no holder of a centuries-old title could have been more insistent on the dignity of his rank.”–Munby, Phillipps Studies, II, p. 18.

From an early age, Sir Thomas spent an enormous amount of time on his family’s genealogy, trying to link himself to other old important British families. He often pointed out his descent from the Phillipps family of Picton Castle, Pembrokeshire, and printed a family tree, which demonstrated his descent in 26 generations from Robert, duke of Normandy, and Leofwine, Earl of Mercia.

What appears to be unknown is Sir Thomas’s efforts to demonstrate his family’s connection with the family of William Shakespeare. The collection offered here contains four printed pedigrees of the families of Shakespeare of Stepney, London, and Brookwood Parks, Co. Hants (1864; two copies); of Shakespeare of London (dated by Sir Thomas “Oct 1854”), and of Philipps of Nasleigh in Chesham, Co. Bucks (1864). All were printed at the Middle Hill Press and have numerous corrections, additions, and deletions in the hand of Sir Thomas, the first three demonstrating his connection to Shakespeare’s family.

Accompanying this are 20 manuscript documents, including further family pedigrees, (ca. 67 pp., various sizes), mostly in the hand of Sir Thomas, concerning the above pedigrees and other genealogical matters. Sir Thomas conducted a large correspondence on genealogical subjects with many of the eminent antiquaries of his day.

His notes display an obsessional interest in family pedigrees and finding connections with other prominent families. Some of his notes are written on printer’s waste, on letters from other antiquaries (including William Rees), and on proofs of the printed pedigrees. Bound-in is an A.L.s from J.O. Shakespeare.

In fine condition.

❧ None of the three Middle Hill Press-printed pedigrees is listed in Eric Holzenberg’s The Middle Hill Press (1997).

Price: $9,500.00

Item ID: 6947

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