Born in Wales, to a reasonably well connected family, Philipps, as a younger son, entered the army in 1678. He got caught up in the political spirit of the times and was soon supporting those who opposed James II. In 1688 he was arrested by troops loyal to James II and was sentenced to death for spreading printed material which supported William the III, who was shortly expected to arrive on British shores to displace James II. (William was the grandson of Charles I and had been born on the continent and had married his cousin, Princess Mary, the daughter of James II [she had turned against her father]). The story is that Philipps was about to be strung up at Dartmouth, England, on November 5th, 1688, when news was received by Philipps' captors that William had come ashore at Tor Bay, but a few miles from Dartmouth, with an army of English and Dutch troops, 15,000 strong. The captors did not carry out the sentence. There was little resistance, and the new regime under William and Mary was soon in place.
Philipps was next off to do service in Ireland at the Battle of the Boyne (1689); and, thus, he was among those who helped to assure the continuing reign of William and Mary, and the entrenchment of English protestantism. Because of these events, Philipps was considered to be a man who could find ears at the royal court.
In 1712, Philipps "purchased the colonelcy of the 12th Regiment." In 1717, he was appointed "Governor of Placentia in Newfoundland and Captain General and Governor in Chief of the Province of Nova Scotia." However, Philipps, having spent the winter with Mascarene at Boston, was not to arrive in Nova Scotia until after 1720. Upon his arrival Philipps was finally to take up, an on hands control, of what was to become a very famous British regiment that had its birth right here in Nova Scotia in 1717, "The Fighting Fortieth." The very first name, of a number, which the "40th" had over the years, was the "Philipps."
Philipps relationship with his fellow officers while at Nova Scotia did not always run along a smooth path. He often had problems with his second in command, the irascible Armstrong. Even with Mascarene, an officer who it seems had a relatively serene disposition, Philipps had difficulties; an estrangement certainly did occur when Mascarene unwisely expressed his annoyance to Philipps concerning the appointment of Major Alexander Cosby to an important civil post (Cosby was Philipps' brother-in-law).
Philipps had responsibilities (in name at least) for Nova Scotia from 1717 to 1749. During this 32 year period Philipps spent time at his post only during two periods; comprising in all less than five years.
"He [Philipps] had shown quite a remarkable energy and determination in his movements about the province and there is no doubt but that he achieved what he did by cultivating a personal prestige among the Acadians through vigorous assured action, and by convincing them that their land was under the eyes of Great Britain and that an end had been put to temporizing." (Brebner, New England's Outpost, p. 94-5.)Philipps married Elizabeth Cosby; she died in 1739. Philipps, himself, died at London during 1750 and was buried at Westminster Abbey. (See short footnote on Philipps which Thomas Beamish Akins sets forth in his, Selections From The Public Documents, pp. 17-9.)