Samuel Phillips 1715-1790

Hon. Samuel Phillips

Hon. Samuel Phillips 1715-1790

Samuel Phillips was the primary founder of the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Together with his brother, John, and his son, Samuel, he also helped found Phillips Exeter Academy,  and Andover Theological Seminary. Here is his story from 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, pp.15-18.

No. 5

V. Hon. Samuel Phillips (son of Samuel and Hannah: No. 4), was born Feb. 13, 1715; graduated Harvard College, 1734; was engaged for some time in teaching a grammar school, but he had a natural taste and rare fitness for mercantile and other business pursuits, into which he soon entered with zeal and a determination to succeed. His natural sagacity and deep foresight, strengthened by a long and varied experience in different departments of business life, gave him confidence and insured the success which enabled him in after life to perform the acts that have caused his name to be associated with works of usefulness and beneficence. He was extensively engaged in the manufacture of gunpowder at the time of the Revolution, and for this he erected an expensive mill, which in 1778 was destroyed by an explosion in which there was a loss of life of three persons.

Phillips Academy at Andover

Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass.

“In 1788, he built a paper-mill, which was carried on by Phillips and Houghton. He was often the representative of Andover, and member of the Executive Council before the Revolution, and in the Revolution was a staunch whig: was many years a civil magistrate, discharging the duties thereof with the most exemplary fidelity. Such were the sternness and precision of his manners, always frowning on vice and disorder, that they did not contribute to his popularity. Early habits of exactness and economy enabled him to accumulate a large estate, much of which he appropriated to the public good.”(1)

Samuel Phillips, Jr.

Samuel Phillips, Jr.

The crowning act of his life, that which more than anything else causes his memory to be held in grateful and perpetual remembrance, that which makes hundreds of professional, and other learned men his beneficiaries, was the part he performed as founder of the Academy at Andover. In this, however, he acted in connection with his brother, Hon. John Phillips of Exeter, N. H., afterwards sole founder of Phillips Exeter Academy, to whom is perhaps due an equal share of the honor, and at the suggestion of his son Samuel, known as Judge Phillips, to whom is to be accredited the further honor, that he conceived the original design, worked out the plan, and drew up the constitution. The School was established April 1, 1778, the two brothers having given for the purpose one hundred and forty-one acres of land in Andover, two hundred acres in Jaffrey, N, H., and five thousand dollars in money.

“The lands they directed to be let out on proper terms, the money to be put on interest on good security, and the profits to be forever appropriated and expended for the support of a public free school or academy, in the South Parish of Andover.”(2)

Phillips Academy, Andover

Phillips Academy, Andover

The school was opened with twenty scholars, on the 28th of April, 1778, in a joiner’s shop, purchased from the funds subscribed ; and thus, Phillips Academy, known at first as Phillips School, had a practical beginning. In speaking of the relations of these three men to the two academies, a writer before quoted says:

“The three men— and the older ones especially were men of sound judgment, who moved cautiously, and were not led away by any blind enthusiasm– together planned the enterprise, determined the locality, and took the necessary steps to bring the school into active existence. The combined gifts of these and other members of the Phillips family for the endowment of the academy amounted, in round numbers, to one hundred thousand dollars, and for half a century it was under the fostering care of some member of the family. Phillips Academy at Andover, was incorporated by an act of the Legislature in 1780, being the first academy so incorporated in America.

OldPA_PosterSix months later. Dr. John Phillips, of Exeter, secured the incorporation of Phillips Exeter Academy. Thus these three men were founders of the two schools; and though the sums bestowed, when measured by the standard of more modern gifts, do not cause astonishment, when compared with what others were doing: at that time, both in America and in England, they are simply magnificent It was an act of faith, of strong will and high purpose, and the spirit which underlay the design is embodied in the elaborate constitution which serves for both schools The present school building replaces one that was destroyed by fire. It stands near the top of a hill which is crowned by the buildings occupied by the theological seminary of the Congregationalists, established in 1808. We mention it here because it has an organic connection with the academy, the two institutions being under the same board of trustees, the younger having sprung from the loins of the elder, partly as the consummation of a purpose originally formed by the founders of the academy, partly as the solution of a difficulty which had arisen when the incorporation of the theological seminary had been sought. It is plain, too, that the academy is influenced in many ways by the presence of the seminary. . . . . . . Friendships spring up between the older and younger men, and the two institutions help to correct each other. The fact of the theological school as organically connected with the academy has served in many ways to deepen the religious character of the academy and to identify it more closely with the religious denomination with which it is affiliated.”(3)

Andover, Mass

Andover, Mass

He married July 11, 1738, Elizabeth Barnard, daughter of Theodore Barnard of Andover, and grand-daughter of Rev. Thomas Barnard of North Andover, who died 1718. By this marriage with an only child, the real estate at North Andover, formerly owned by the Barnard family, became the homestead which has been retained in the Phillips family for so many succeeding generations. The store carried on by Mr. Phillips in that place was opened in a part of the same house occupied by the family. He died Aug. 21, 1790, aged 75. She died Nov. 29, 1789, aged 71. “Her letters are very interesting, and show her to have been a woman of great piety and strong religious views.” Their epitaph contains the following words:

“This pair were friends to order in the Family, Church and Commonwealth; Examples of Industry and Economy, and patrons of learning and religion.”

Children; of whom it will be seen that only one out of the seven survived them:

  1. Theodore, b. May 2, 1739 ; d. Jan. 25, 1740.
  2. Hannah, b. Jan. 20, 1742 ; d. June 15. 1764.
  3. Samuel, b. Nov. 6, 1743 ; d. Dec. 24, 1744.
  4. Theodore, b. Sept. 6, 1745; d. Dec. 1, 1758.
  5. Elizabeth, b. Oct. 31, 1747; d. June 24, 1748.
  6. Samuel, b. Feb. 7, 1750. (No. 7. Coming soon to a blog near you.)
  7. Elizabeth, b. Oct. 18, 1755 ; d. Apr. 19, 1757.

More Info:

  1. Genealogies of Watertown.
  2. Lawrence American, June 7, 1878.
  3. Harper’s Magazine, Vol. 55, p. 564.

A few alumni–

a Naval Aviator

a Naval Aviator

Former Government Worker

Former Government Worker

A Former Government Worker and Green Energy Executive

A Former Government Worker and Green Energy Executive


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