James Phips James Phips, b. 1606-1612 4/25/2002

He was probably the James Phipps baptized in St. Peter's Church, Nottingham on 29 Aug 1610 described as 'son of William' in the parish records.

  St. Peter's Church Nottingham

"Among those who moved from Bristol to Pemaquid were John Brown and James Phips. On March 1, 1626, James (described as the 'son of William Phippes, formerly of Mangotsfield, county of Gloucester, tyler, deceased') was apprenticed to Brown for a term of eight years. Brown's family was from Barton Regis, so the men may have known each other well before the apprenticeship. There is no record of James Phips becoming a freeman of Brisol, which would have been likely to occur after completion of his apprenticeship if he had still been in the city, and the presumption is that he and Brown migrated before 1634." (The New England Knight)

"Rather inconclusive research indicates that James Phips was born about 1615 (error) in Mangotsfield, England, a small village five miles northeast of the large seventeenth century seaport of Bristol. He was the son of William Phips who apparently was a blacksmith in Mangotsfield.  By the time James was fifteen, he had been sent to Bristol to become an apprentice to John Brown, a blacksmith, who had also originally come from Mangotsfield.  John Brown had apparently made the same trip some years earlier.  The town records of Bristol indicate that John Brown had been apprenticed to Robert North, a Bristol blacksmith in 1611.
Early Maine records indicate that a John Brown, described as a blacksmith from Bristol, and his wife, Joan, were living in Pemaquid, Maine, prior to 1639. We can only speculate as to whether John Brown, the blacksmith in Pemaquid, was the same man to whom Phips was apprenticed in Bristol. It is conceivable that John Brown was instrumental in getting Phips to come to the Maine coast, possibly as a helper. It can be reasonably assumed that Phips was apprenticed to John Brown for the standard period of at least seven years, during which time he must have received substantial instruction and experience in the working of metals.  It is also quite probable that during this apprenticeship he saw and possibly worked on a number of the heavy, clumsy, matchlock muskets. Such guns would have been bought into Brown's shop for minor repairs, since outside of London and Birmingham there were few gunsmiths up until the era of mass production, and many a country blacksmith became a skillful gunsmith by necessity.  Phips may also have seen the newly introduced "firelocks" or snaphaunces.  It is unlikely that he became aquainted with wheellock arms, since they were rather uncomon in England, although still used on the continent during the early seventeenth century."   (Maine Made Guns & Their Makers - Dwight B. Demeritt Jr.)
March 17, 1625/6;  apprenticed to John Browne, blacksmith, Bristol, England for a term of  7 years.   (Frank White research, Maine and New Hampshire Genealogical Dictionary)
"As the settlements grew, there also grew a need for additional skilled artisans. This need became obvious to the early English proprietors, who soon realized that their efforts to settle their lands in New England would not be successful unless additional settlers trained in the basic crafts could be transported to New England. As was the custom of the period, the proprietors petitioned the King for permission to "export" these skilled workers from England to New England.  These petitions were granted only on the condition that each settler swear loyalty and support to the crown. During the late 1630's, James I granted several such petitions to Gyles and Elbridge of Bristol, England.  Elbridge was able to send at least six shiploads of settlers from Bristol to New England between 1638 and 1639.  James and Mary Phips of Bristol, very possibly came to New England on one of these vessels."    (Maine Made Guns & Their Makers - Dwight B. Demeritt Jr.)
In the fall of 1639, John Brown and Edward Bateman purchased land from the Indian chief Manowormet (called Robin Hood) "of Negwasset, in America... for 1 hogshead of corn and 30 pumpkins" - all lands between Sagadahoc and Sheepscot Rivers, Great Pond on the north and Nequasseg River on the south - the present site of Woolwich, Maine.  John Brown and his family moved to that area and lived there for 7 years.  In 1646 he sold his interest in the grant to Bateman, and moved back to New Harbor.  Bateman sold his interest in the land grant to James Cole, who in turn sold to Boston investors *Thomas Clarke and Thomas Lake in 1658.  (History of Woolwich, Maine)   There were few settlers here at that time.
"In 1639 Brown and one Edward Bateman purchased all of Nequasset (present-day Woolwich, Maine) from the local Wabanaki sachem, who was known to the English as Robinhood. In 1646 Brown and Bateman sold Jeremisquam Neck, a large tract on the eastern side of
Nequasset, to James Phips and John White. This was apparently the same John White who had served as apprenticeship sugar refiner under Robert Aldworth. Aldworth had established the first sugar house in Bristol in 1609, processing cane sugar from Madeira, the Azores, and Brazil. The venture flourished until the mid-1630s, when Aldworth's death, combined with competition and a decline in prices, seriously damaged the refinery business. It is likely that White then found himself unemployed and migrated to Maine to work on another Aldworth enterprise." (The New England Knight)
Soon after their purchase the grantees sold Phipps point, situated on the westerly side of the latter river, to James Phipps and John White.  The site is still known as the birthplace of Sir William Phips in 1651.   (Spencer, Pioneers on Maine Rivers)
 "James and Mary Phips arrived in the small community of Pemaquid, located on one of the many slender peninsulas that extend like fingers into the Atlantic between the mouths of the Kennebec and the Penobscot Rivers. Presumably James set up a blacksmithing and gunsmith business immediately, since early records list him as a gunsmith shortly after his arrival.  The livelihood of most of the settlers, traders, and visiting Indians depended to a large degree on the dependability of their matchlock and snaphaunce firearms.
Archaelogical excavations conducted at Pemaquid Point from 1965 to 1974 did not uncover any evidence of a firearm repairing facility. However, excavations conducted more recently in areas adjacent to Pemaquid Point on the west side of the Pemaquid River, have uncovered a miquelet lock of seventeenth century design.  Such locks were developed in Spain and were widely traded during the seventeenth century. Future excavations may reveal the site of an arms repair facility which could possibly have been the one maintained by Phips while he was at Pemaquid." (Maine Made Guns & Their Makers - Dwight B. Demeritt Jr.)

Pemaquid Point lighthouse, 4/2002

"The general court of Massachusetts had ordered at a very early date that every man was to possess and keep in good working order a firearm which, as a practical matter until about 1670, was the relatively inexpensive matchlock musket.  Phips and Brown may well have had what amounted to a monopoly on the gun repair business in the English dominated portion of eastern Maine. Phips obviously was quite successful, for within ten years after his arrival in Pemaquid, he and John White, a fellow artisan, were able to purchase five hundred acres of land from Edward Bateman.  Early Maine records indicate that a John Brown of Pemaquid and Edward Bateman received a deed to a part of Woolwich, Maine, on November 1, 1639; it was apparently part of this tract that Phips and White purchased in about 1645. This land lay along the west side of the Back River on a point now known a Phipps Point.  This tract was approximately fifteen miles west of Pemaquid as the crow flies and was ideally located on one of the several waterways a few miles east of the Kennebec River.
Here Phips constructed his home and set up a shop where he continued his trade as a gunsmith for the remaining six years of his life.  There is no evidence that Phips ever did more than repair firearms for the settlers, the local militia, and the Indians.  While there exists a few late seventeenth century flintlocks in collections in this country which bear the inscription "J. Phips" on the barrel or lock, these markings are believed to have been placed on these weapons during the twentieth century. In addition, these arms were obviously not made during the period of Phips' life.
The site of Phips' house and shop on Phipps Point has been the locale of an archaelogical excavation conducted by archaelogist, Robert L. Bradley of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. The house has been located and determined to be a rather rare seventeenth century style of construction for America.  It is known as earthfast construction, meaning that the walls of the structure are supported by posts set directly into the ground.  This was a common early style of construction in England, but has been rarely found in New England. The house has been determined to have been 15 feet wide and 72 feet long and connected to another earthfast structure by a very large 15 by 5 foot hearth.  As of the summer of 1993, no evidence of a forge or metalworking workshop had been found on the site and no gun-related artifacts had been found."  (Maine Made Guns & Their Makers - Dwight B. Demeritt Jr.)
"As James Phipps had deceased before 1654 his name did not appear in this list of freeman. "  Speaking of the oath of submission taken in this year.  (Spencer, Pioneers on Maine Rivers)

The road to Phips Point in April 2002

* "1658.  Clark and Lake of Boston having purchased Arrowsic Island, (the land of rest amid the waters-- or quiet-water land), on the southern extreme laid out a town in ten-acre lots, intersected at right angles with streets of ample width.  Major Clark and Capt. Lake were Boston merchants; and on the site of the new town erected a warehouse, several large dwelling-houses, and many other buildings, together with a fort near the water-side. Many immigrants had here established their homes."    (Ancient Dominions of Maine - Sewall)
Hammond, Richard, Kennebec 1665, killed by Indians 1676, at the same time with Captain Thomas Lake,  when all his family of sixteen were either killed or captured.  Elizabeth his widow married John Rowden of Salem.  (Savage's Genealogical Dictionary)
Arrowsic. This historic spot is an island in the Kennebec River. Woolwich lies upon the eastern shore, and Phipsburg and Bath upon the western shot, while Arrowsic lies between them, encircled by the waters of the river. Tradition says that upon one occasion an Indian sachem lay dying from the effects of a wound caused by being bit by a poisoned arrow; when asked what was the trouble, the dying warrior replied, "I am arrow-sick," and in this answer originated the came of the town. It was at the head of this island that Captain Weymouth cast anchor when he explored the surrounding region. About the middle of the seventeenth century, Thomas Clark and Roger Spencer purchased the island of Robin hood. A block- house was built by them, and a few settlers gathered around it. During the Indian war of 1675, the settlers were all driven from the island and the build- ings were laid in ashes. It was re-settled in about 1700, and upon the breaking out of Lovell's war with the Indians there were about twenty-six families upon the island. In the spring of 1722 there was a band of sol- diers stationed upon this island to protect the inhabitants against the hostilities of the In- dians. To the fall of the year of 1722, the Indians made an attack Upon Arrowsic; the people took refuge in the block-house or fort and the Indians after setting fire to the houses left the island.
The ruins of the old fort may be seen today. (The Kennebec Valley)

Early Woolwich, Maine

See a 17th century gun signed J. Phips

Brown and Bateman deed

Phips Point archaelogy

Pemaquid web page

Maine State Archives



Back to Phipps Family Pages

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