George Phillips 1592-1644

Watertown. MA

Watertown. MA

Below are the first few paragraphs of the 272 page book, Phillips Genealogies; Including the Family of George Phillips, First Minister of Watertown, Mass., through most of the traceable branches from 1630 to the present generation; (et al.) Compiled by Albert M. Phillips, Auburn, Worcester Co., Mass., Sept. 22, 1885.






A Phillips crossed the water with John Winthrop, and from him descended a long line of ministers, judges, governors, and councillors—a sterling race, temperate, just, and high-minded.” — Writer in Harper’s.

No. 1.

Watertown Landing. 1630

Watertown Landing. 1630

(I.) Rev. George Phillips, the first minister of Watertown, Mass., son of Christopher Phillips of Rainham, was born about 1593, at Rainham, St. Martins, near Rougham, in the hundred or district of Gallow, County of Norfolk, England.[1] He graduated as B. A. from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, 1613, and received the degree of M. A., 1617.

“He gave early indications of deep piety, uncommon talents, and love of learning, and at the University distinguished himself by his remarkable progress in learning, especially in theological studies for which he manifested an early partiality.”

He was settled for a time in the ministry in Suffolk Co., but suffering from the storm of persecution which then threatened the nonconformists of England, he determined to leave the mother country and take his lot with the Puritans.

He embarked for America, April 12th, 1630, in the Arbella, with his wife and two children, as fellow-passengers with Gov. Winthrop[2] and Sir Richard Saltonstall, and arrived at Salem, June 12th. Here his wife soon died and was buried by the side of Lady Arbella Johnson, both, evidently, being unable to endure the hardship and exposure incident to a tedious ocean voyage.[3]

He soon located in Watertown, and without delay was settled over the church in that place which was called together in July.

At the Court of Assistants, Aug. 23, 1630, it was “ordered that Mr. Phillips shall have allowed him 3 hogsheads of meale, 1 hogsh of malte, 4 bushells of Indean corn, 1 bushell of oatmeale, halfe an hundred of salte fish.” Another statement from the same source says, “Mr. Phillips hath 30 ac of land graunted him vpp Charles Ryver on the South side.”[4] His first residence was burnt before the close of the year. There is a tradition that his later residence is still standing “opposite the ancient burial ground, back from the road.” [5]



He continued to be the pastor of this church, greatly respected and beloved, till his death fourteen years after his arrival. He died at the age of about fifty-one years, July 1, and was buried July 2, 1644.

“He was the earliest advocate of the Congregational order and discipline. His views were for a time regarded as novel, suspicious and extreme, and he, with his ruling elder, Mr. Richard Brown, stood almost unaided and alone, until the arrival of Mr. John Cotton, in family maintaining what was and still is, the Congregationalism of New England. It is not now easy to estimate the extent and importance of the influence of Mr. Phillips in giving form and character to the civil and ecclesiastical institutions of New England.”

His name appears in the list of those who were admitted freemen, May 18, 1631, which is the earliest date of any such admission.

His inventory amounted to £550 2s. 9d., a sum, allowing for the difference in commercial value between that time and the present, equivalent, at least, to seven or eight thousand dollars. His library was valued at £71 9s. 9d.

He married (1st) a daughter of Richard Sargent. He married (2d) Elizabeth ——, probably a widow of Capt. Robert Welden. She died in Watertown, June 27, 1681. In speaking of his descendants, the writer quoted at the beginning of this record says:

“In Brechin Hall at Andover, the library of the theological school, in the great halls of the academies at Andover and Exeter, and in Memorial Hall at Harvard College, one may see hanging upon the walls portraits of one and another man and woman of this family, which belongs among the untitled nobility of New England, representing the best element of life there—- not that which always dwells in the brightest glare of publicity, but that which directs and shapes the current of public opinion.”

Children (by first marriage):
1. Samuel, b. 1625; of Rowley. (No. 2.)
2. Elizabeth, b. in England; m. previous to May 17, 1651, Job Bishop, of Ipswich.
(By second marriage):
3. Zerobabel, b. April 6, 1632; went to Long Island, and settled at South Hampton as early as 1663; was living in April, 1682. He m. Ann White.
4. Jonathan, b. Nov. 16, 1633. (No. 15.)
5. Theophilus, b. May 28, 1636. (No. 19.)
6. Annabel, b. Dec, 1637;  d. April, 1638.
7. Ephraim, b. June, 1640 or 1641.; d. soon.
8. Obadiah ;  d. very young.
9. Abigail; m. Oct. 8, 1666, James Barnard;  d. in Sudbury, Sept., 1672. No ch.

Footnotes and More Info:

  1. The parish of Rainham was visited in May, 1875, by Henry A. Phillips, now of
    Boston, who found that none of this name were living in that place, but ascertained
    that some were living in an adjacent town.
  2. Before the final embarkation which had been considerably delayed, Gov. Winthrop says, in a letter to his son, John Winthrop: “From aboard the Arbella, riding before Yarmouth, April 5, 1630. Yesterday we kept a fast aboard our ship and in the Talbot. Mr. Phillips exercised with us the whole day, and gave very good content to all the company, as he doth in all his exercises, so as we have much cause to bless God for him.”
  3. It cannot be thought egotistical for one who does not trace his origin to this Mrs. Phillips, to say that there is now little or nothing from which to form an opinion of her except the lives and characters of her noble descendants; and judging from these, it is reasonable to conclude that she was a woman of high social standing, lofty moral virtue and strong intellect.
  4. Mass. Records, Vol. 1, pp. 102, 730.
  5. This old house whose solid oaken frame is said to have been brought over by Sir R. Saltonstall, has a projecting second story, partly concealed by a modern piazza, and stands well back from the street. Externally there is nothing to indicate great age, but its interior retains many marks of antiquity. It formerly had three porticos, which have been removed from its front, and a steep roof which has given place to one of much less altitude.—Hist. of Middlesex County, p. 450. S. A. Drake.
  6. Geni– George M Phillips, Rev. (c.1593 – 1644)
  7. findagrave– Rev George Phillips
  8. Boxted Village, Essex, UK
  9. First Congregational Church of Stamford
  10. The Adventurers of the Massachusetts Bay Company 1630
  11.– Reverend George Phillips
  12. Redeemer Fellowship Church History
  13. Historical Sketch of Watertown, MA
  14. wiki for Watertown, Massachusetts

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5 Responses to George Phillips 1592-1644

  1. Cheryl Buchanan says:

    I’m researching the Phillips lineage for my dad. Where can I find this book
    Cheryl Phillips Buchanan

  2. Really cool to find this. I’m also a descendent of Rev. Phillips. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Kathleen J. Soucie says:

    The portrait shown aboved is a different “George Phillips” this portrait is clearly Regency era 1795 to 1837 not Caroline era fashion 1603–1714 when the Rev. George Phillips of Watertown lived. The above portrait is of the George Phillips 1804-1892

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