Phips, Or Phipps, Sir William, governor of Massachusetts, born in Woolwich, Maine, Feb. 2, 1651, died in London, Feb. 18, 1695. He was one of 26 children by the same father and mother, 21 of whom were sons. He was at first employed as a shepherd, and at the age of 18 bound himself apprentice to a ship carpenter. In 1673 he removed to Boston, where he learned to read and write. In 1684 he went to England to procure means to recover a Spanish treasure ship wrecked near the Bahamas. "With a national vessel furnished him by the admiralty he did not succeed; on a second attempt, in which the means were supplied by the duke of Albemarle, he recovered treasure to the amount of £300,000, of which £16,000 was given him as his share, and he was knighted and appointed high sheriff of New England. Disagreeing in this capacity with some other officers, he went again to England. In 1690 he commanded the fleet which captured Port Royal, and in the same year a much larger one sent against Quebec, which failed. Phips was a member of the North church of Boston, of which Cotton Mather was pastor, and was noted for his zeal for Puritanism; and out of deference to the wishes of Increase Mather the agent of Massachusetts in England, he was appointed captain-general and governor-in-chief of the province in 1692. In 1694 he was summoned to England to answer complaints which had been brought against him; but he suddenly died there.
He is eulogized by Cotton Mather, with whom he cooperated in the witchcraft delusion; but his last act as governor was to issue a general pardon to all convicted or accused of this offence. - See "Life of Sir William Phips," by Francis Bowen, in Sparks's "American Biography," vol. vii.