Robert Stowell PHILLIPS

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Robert Stowell PHILLIPS

Robert Stowell PHILLIPS(1558) was born in Nang-Ua, China, on 05 Apr 1893, the first of two children of Hugh Stowell PHILLIPS(1334) and his first wife Minnie Mary APPERSON(1557) 1. Robert died on 18 Jul 1967, aged 742.

In 19013, aged 7, a british subject born in Kee Chang, China, he was staying with his 71 year old widowed paternal grandfather, Robert PHILLIPS(1333) at 1 Park Avenue, Ormskirk, Lancashire together with his sister Mary Cecilia, aged 5, his half-sister Constance Kathleen, aged 2, and a governess, Mary R. DAKER.

He attended Trent College, at Long Eaton in Nottinghamshire, from September 1905 (Form II) to 1912, where his tutors were G H Wade and then G J Thomas. He was a school Prefect and an OTC Corporal4. In 1914 he matriculated at St Johns College, Cambridge5, but presumably broke off his studies and enlisted later that year.

He was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant, 6th Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment, from 22 Aug 19146. In 1916 he was transferred to the Indian Army Reserve of Officers, Infantry Division, still a 2nd Lieutenant, effective 15 Oct 1915, but to rank from 22 Aug 1914 when he first joined up 7. He probably attended the Cadet College at Quetta, as later in 1916, as a Cadet, he was transferred to the unattached list of the Indian Army 8. Finally, effective 05 Jul 1916 he was transferred from the unattached list to the 39th Garhwal Rifles9.

Some further details of his army career have emerged10. He was promoted Lieutenant from 29 Jun 1916, and Captain from 16 Jan 1919. In the Jul 1921 Indian Army list he was serving with the 3rd Battalion of the 39th Garhwal Rifles, and in the July 1922 Indian Army list he was in the 18th Indian Infantry Group (probably the renamed 18th Royal Garwhal Rifles). His lsited Army qualifications were that he qualified at the School of Musketry, that he was a certifies instructor in Army Signalling, and that he passed a proficiency test in Urdu. All that is mentioned of his war service is that he took part in operations in Mesopotamia between 12 Dec 1917 and 31 Oct 1918. The location of his record of service is not known.

Whilst in India, on 27 Oct 1917, Robert married Naomi Margaret Marie BATTYE (1561) (1898-1985), the daughter and eldest of three children of of Ivan Urmston BATTYE and Marie Grace ROBERTSON. The marriage took place at Lahore, by licence, and the celebrant was C. M. Gough of the Church Missionary Society. The signature of one witness was illegible. The other two were Marie Battye, possibly the bride's mother, and Nais Battye, possibly the bride's younger sister11

Robert must have left the Indian Army in about 1921, and took up his studies at Cambridge. He took his B.A. in 1922 and M.A. in 1926. He also studied at Ridley Hall, was ordained in 1923 and pursued a career as a Church of England priest.

Robert and Naomi had four children.


1) Phillips Family Tree, received from Michael Phillips on 28 Mar 2011. I don't know whether there are any surviving records of births to missionary families in China.
2) GRO deaths index, Surrey SW, Sep 1967, vol. 5g, p.394
3) 1901 England and Wales Census, RG13, piece 3536, folio 106, p.10, accessed through
4) Information kindly provided by the Development and Alumni Relations Officer of Trent College, May 2011.
5) Information provided by Michael Phillips.
. 6) London Gazette, 21 Aug 1914, p.6603: 6th Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment, to be 2nd Lieutenant, dated 22nd Aug 1914: Robert Stowell Phillips.
7) London Gazette, 04 Feb 1916, p.1377: Transfers to the Indian Army Reserve of Officers, to be 2nd Lieutenant; Infantry Branch, 2nd Lieutenant Robert Stowell Phillips, from the 1/6th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Dated 15th Oct 1915, but to rank from the 22nd Aug 1914.
8) London Gazette, 05 Sep 1916, pages 8714/5: Gentlemen Cadets from the Cadet College, Quetta, to the unattached list of the Indian Army, to be 2nd Lieutenants, dated 29 Jun 1916.
9) London Gazette, 08 Dec 1916, p.11981: From the unattached list, 2nd Lieutenants to be 2nd Lieutenants: Robert Stowell Phillips, 39th Garhwal Rifles, dated 5th Jul 1916.
10) Information from the quarterly Indian Army List between July 1917 and July 1922 kindly provided by the APAC Reference Services of the British Library.
11) A copy of the marriages solemnised at Lahore in the last quarter of 1917, from India Office records at the British Library, kindly supplied by the Library.

© John Stowell 2011             This file last edited on 12 September 2011.

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