Charles Phillips

Phillips, Charles, author, was born at Sligo in 1789. He graduated at Trinity College, and was called to the Irish Bar in 1812, and to the English Bar in 1821. Lord Brougham gave him an appointment as a bankruptcy judge at Liverpool, and in 1835 he was advanced to be a Commissioner of Bankruptcy. His brilliant though somewhat florid eloquence secured his success at the criminal bar, and for some years he was the leading counsel at the Old Bailey. His action at the trial of Courvoisier for the murder of Lord William Russell in June 1840, was much and justly called in question. He endeavoured to clear his client by throwing suspicion on another person, of whose entire innocence he was well aware.

The voluminous literature of the question is fully set forth by Allibone, who devotes almost a page of his Dictionary to a specification of his numerous writings. His Emerald Isle, a Poem (1812), Recollections of Curran and his Cotemporaries (1818), Specimens of Irish Eloquence (1819), and Historical Sketch of Wellington (1852), are perhaps the most important. Moore speaks of his Life of Curran as written in wretched taste, and Sir James Mackintosh declared his style "pitiful to the last degree," and said "he ought by common consent to be driven from the Bar." Christopher North writes: "There were frequent flashes of fine imagination, and strains of genuine feeling in his speeches, that showed nature intended him for an orator. In the midst of his most tedious and tasteless exaggerations, you still feel that Charles Phillips had a heart." He died in Golden-square, London, 1st February 1859, aged 70.


7. Annual Register. London, 1756-1877.

16. Authors, Dictionary of British and American: S. Austin Allibone. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1859-'71.

146. Gentleman's Magazine. London, 1731-1868.
Gilbert, John T., see Nos. 110, 335.