Born 4 May 1822 at Presteign, Radnorshire, but his family was of Shrewsbury - ancestors of his had been burgesses there from 1634. He was in school at Presteign, and later was apprenticed to his brother, a tailor in High Street, Shrewsbury, with a flourishing business in which William Phillips was eventually a partner. About 1861 he began to take an interest in botany, becoming in later years an acknowledged authority on the botany of Shropshire - he wrote the chapter on that subject in the Victoria County History of Shropshire. His special subject, however, was fungi, and his Manual of British Discomycetes (1887), the fruit of twenty years' work, is a standard book. He also took an increasing interest in antiquities, was one of the founders of the Shropshire Archaeology and Natural History Society, and contributed much to the transactions of that society, to Bye-Gones, and to Shropshire Notes and Queries, of which he was at one time editor. He paid special attention to the Civil War period in Shropshire, and printed the ' Ottley Papers,' and the records of quarter sessions from 1652 to 1659 - he also arranged the borough records, and received the freedom of the borough in acknowledgment. He was a (Wesleyan) Methodist, and in 1896 published Early Methodism in Shropshire. He died 23 October 1905.
Published date: 1959
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