Rev. Gilbert Henderson Philips 1848-1867
Gilbert Philips was born in Liverpool in 1822, the son of John Philips and Anne, née Henderson. His grandfather was John Leigh Philips, a businessman, soldier, naturalist and patron of the arts and a very important figure in the Manchester of his day. Grandfather Philips also happened to be the uncle of Rev. Edward Trafford Leigh, who is commemorated in the building of St Edward’s church by his widow in 1849.
Having served his curacy in Mobberley, Cheshire, Gilbert was the ideal candidate for the new church in Dringhouses, and came over to York in 1848 while the church was being built. As there was no vicarage at that time, he lived in a house in South Prospect Terrace – now Mount Vale – opposite the end of Knavesmire Road. He married Emily Georgiana Dixon in September 1853 and their six children; four girls and two boys, were born here in Dringhouses.
In the summer of 1867, Gilbert and his family moved to the church of St Michael & All Angels in Brodsworth near Doncaster, where he stayed for sixteen years. The church is very close to Brodsworth Hall, and the vicarage family had close contact with the Thellussons. This led to a romance, and later marriage, between Gilbert’s daughter Constance Mary and Charles Thellusson.
Gilbert served as Chaplain to the Archbishop of York in 1864 and was appointed Rural Dean of Snaith in 1868, and Canon of York and Prebendary of Strensall in 1878. His work for the Diocese kept him very busy and in close contact with York. His final incumbency was at All Saints Church, Bolton Percy where two of his daughters chose to be married. The wedding of Constance Mary and Charles Thellusson, referred to above, took place in June 1885 – just a few weeks before Gilbert died suddenly. The day he died, the ‘great bell of York Minster was tolled’. In a sermon, preached in Bolton Percy church a few days later, reference was made to all the unseen work that Gilbert had carried out for the church and the Diocese of York, and the sadness that he had not had a ‘season of retirement in this quiet parish’. He was buried in Bolton Percy graveyard.