PHIPPS, THOMAS, junior, HBC employee; fl. 1679–86.
He was warehousekeeper at Moose Fort in 1679–80 and presumably for the following year. In 1681 he was with Governor John Nixon on Charlton Island, a rendezvous for men from the several factories and the ships from England. The Diligence Capt. (Nehemiah Walker) was late that year and after supplies were distributed ice conditions made it too hazardous for Nixon and his staff to reach the mainland by the yacht Colleton.
Nixon’s decision to winter at Charlton Island had to be made known at Moose Fort (headquarters) and Phipps voluntarily offered to attempt the crossing in a small boat with four companions. After great difficulty the party reached the mainland and travelled – on foot and without snowshoes – 100 miles to Moose in eight days. Phipps carried a commission from Nixon investing him with full authority as deputy governor to deal with any “distractions” or disorders, and his “prudant care” was highly commended when Nixon visited Moose Fort next spring.
About that time Phipps came under suspicion in London in connection with an interloping expedition in which his cousin, Thomas Phipps senior, a shareholder in the HBC, was heavily interested. When intercepted letters exposed this scheme and the possibility that Phipps junior might be implicated, he faced dismissal.
Such good reports of his character, however, were furnished by colleagues returning from Hudson Bay that the Company reversed its decision, and in 1685 promoted Phipps governor at Port Nelson. Success went to his head. He demanded a 100 per cent salary increase which was flatly refused. Coming home in 1686 he haggled over terms until a subcommittee declared him “not so candid as reported.”
A further black mark against him was gambling. His winning of £14 in one night from a colleague, Surgeon John Kerr, in 1684 led the Company to refuse to transfer sums between its servants’ accounts in settlement of gaming debts. To his credit it may be added that Phipps was “one whom the Indians loved.”