|Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bt|
Sir Thomas Phillipps, ca. 1860
July 2, 1792|
|Died||February 6, 1872
|Occupation||antiquarian, book collector|
|Spouse(s)||Henrietta Elizabeth Molyneux (1819-1832);
Elizabeth Harriet Anne Mansel (1848-1872)
|Children||Henrietta (b. 1819), Sophia (b. 1821), and Katharine (b. 1829)|
|Parents||Thomas Phillipps and Hannah Walton (illegitimate)|
Sir Thomas Phillipps, 1st Baronet (2 July 1792 — 6 February 1872) was an English antiquary and book collector who amassed the largest collection of manuscript material in the 19th century, due to his severe condition of bibliomania. He was an illegitimate son of a textile manufacturer and inherited a substantial estate, which he spent almost entirely on vellum manuscripts, and, when out of funds, borrowed heavily to buy manuscripts, thereby putting his family deep into debt. Phillipps recorded in an early catalogue that his collection was instigated by reading various accounts of the destruction of valuable manuscripts.
The Collection 
Philipps began his collecting while still at Rugby and continued at Oxford. Such was his devotion that he acquired some 40,000 printed books and 60,000 manuscripts, arguably the largest collection a single individual has created, and coined the term "vello-maniac" to describe his obsession. A.N.L. Munby notes that ‘’[h]e spent perhaps between two hundred thousand and a quarter of a million pounds[,] altogether four or five thousand pounds a year, while accessions came in at the rate of forty or fifty a week.”. On his death in 1872 the probate valuation (by Edward Bond of the British Museum) of his manuscripts was £74,779 17s 0d. His success as a collector owed something to the dispersal of the monastic libraries following the French Revolution and the relative cheapness of a large amount of vellum material, in particular English legal documents, many of which owe their survival to Phillipps. He was an assiduous cataloguer who established the Middle Hill Press (named after his country seat at Broadway, Worcestershire) in 1822 not only to record his book holdings but also to publish his findings in English topography and genealogy.
During his lifetime, Phillipps attempted to turn over his collection to the British nation and corresponded with the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Disraeli in order that it should be acquired for the British Library. Negotiations proved unsuccessful, and, ultimately, the dispersal of his collection took over 100 years. Phillipps's will stipulated that his books should remain intact at Thirlestaine House, that no bookseller or stranger should rearrange them and that no Roman Catholic, especially his son-in-law James Halliwell, should be permitted to view them. In 1885, the Court of Chancery declared this too restrictive and thus made possible the sale of the library which Phillipps's grandson Thomas FitzRoy Fenwick supervised for the next fifty years. Significant portions of the European material were sold to the national collections on the continent including the Royal Library, Berlin, the Royal Library of Belgium, and the Provincial Archives in Utrecht as well as the sale of outstanding individual items to the J. Pierpont Morgan and Henry E. Huntington libraries. By 1946, what was known as the "residue" was sold to London booksellers Phillip and Lionel Robinson for £100,000, though this part of the collection was uncatalogued and unexamined. The Robinsons endeavoured to sell these books through their own published catalogues and a number of Sothebys sales. The final portion of the collection was sold by Christie's on 7 June 2006, lots 18-38. A five-volume history of the collection and its dispersal, Phillipps Studies, by A. N. L. Munby was published between 1951 and 1960.
Phillipps married Henrietta Elizabeth Molyneux, daughter of Major-General Thomas Molyneux, in 1819. In 1821, he was made baronet of Middle Hill in the County of Worcester at the age of 29. The honour was the result of his father-in-law's connections with the Duke of Beaufort. As the Phillipps's had only daughters the title became extinct on his death in February 1872, aged 79. His eldest daughter Harriett Phillipps married the Shakesperean scholar James Halliwell-Phillipps.
Items from the Phillipps Collection 
- "Sir Thomas Phillipps, antiquary: collections relating to Gloucestershire". Gloucestershire Archives: Online Catalogue. Gloucestershire City Council. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
- N. A. Basbanes: A Gentle Madness, p. 120
- Grolier Club
- Basbanes, op. cit. p. 121
- Nicolas Barker: Portrait of an Obsession: The Life of Sir Thomas Phillipps, the world’s greatest book collector, 1967.
- The Horblit collection of Middle Hill Press books at the Grolier Club contains 558 titles, 
- Basbanes, op. cit, p. 122
- Christie's, sale 7233, Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books, London, King Street, 7 June 2006, lots 18-38. 
- Curious Britain: Broadway Tower
- The London Gazette: . 28 July 1821.
- Nicholas A. Basbanes: A Gentle Madness, 1995
- Alan Bell, "Phillipps, Sir Thomas, baronet (1792–1872)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 24 March 2007
- A.N.L.Munby: Phillipps Studies, 5 vols. 1951-1960.
- A BBC Radio 4 play, by Nick Warburton, on the removal of the Phillipps collection to Thirlestaine House was broadcast in August, 2010, 
- Michelle Moreau-Ricaud: Sir Thomas Phillipps: un bibliophile, in "Freud collectionneur", Ed. Campagnes première, 2011, ISBN 2915789665
|Baronetage of the United Kingdom|
(of Middle Hill)