Sir Philip Colfox,1st Baronet

Sir Philip Colfox,1st Baronet

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir (William) Philip Colfox, 1st Baronet MC (25 February 1888 – 8 November 1966) was an English soldier, farmer and Conservative Party politician.

Colfox was the son of Colonel Thomas Alfred Colfox of Coneygar Bridport and Constance Nettlefold of Birmingham. Born in Bridport, Dorset [The Times Birth Notice 29th Feb 1888 page 1] , he was educated at Eton College and at Woolwich. He served as a Major in the Royal Field Artillery during World War I, and was wounded in 1917, receiving a Military Cross. He then taught classics and mathematics at Eton for the rest of WW1.

In 1920, he married Mary Frances Bullen (1892–1973), the daughter of John Bullen Symes Bullen of Catherston, Charmouth Dorset [The Times Marriage Notice 5th Feb 1920 page 1] . They had 2 sons and 2 daughters : Thomas Andrew (1922–1936), (William) John (2nd Bart) (born 1924 ), Susan Frances, and Bridget.

At the 1918 general election, Colfox was elected as Member of Parliament for Dorset North as a Conservative. His father had started as a Liberal, but Colfox followed his mother's family — which included Joseph Chamberlain (MP and Mayor of Birmingham) — first to become Liberal Unionists and then Conservative Unionists.

At the 1922 general election, he was returned to the House of Commons as MP for Dorset West. An outspoken backbencher, he was in 1920 Minister for Pensions [The Times Obituary 9 November 1966 page 14] .

Colfox held the seat until his retirement in 1942 to fight the war in West Dorset and to farm, and also holding out until awarded a Baronetcy. He remained an Alderman of Dorset County Council until a great age. He ran his farm based on sound organic principles in conjunction with his son John.

During World War II he ran the West Dorset Home Guard, awarding himself the rank of Lt Col. An inspection by the War Office recorded that he ran it in a most independent fashion. Mary, Lady Colfox recalled that he was irritated by this inspection saying: "What do they know about running a war in London?"

He was a Unitarian, In Bridport he continued to teach children Mathematics and Classics and was Chairman of the Governors of the Colfox School, so-named in honour of his father who had given the land and refounded the previous grammar school.

Sir Philip and cars were a notorious combination - he parked his car in Bridport perpendicularly to the pavement and policemen were warned that everyone else but him were to be fined. A daughter was asked at a party in Kent - "Are you related to that bad driver from Dorset?"

Colfoxes had been on the Bridport Bench as magistrates continually since the 15th Century. On one occasion Sir Philip and Mary Lady Colfox and her brother, Jack Bullen, had Sir Philip and Lady Colfox's son John up in front of them charged by the police for leaving mud on the road - which he freely admits he did. John was defended by his brother-in-law. His father, mother and uncle found him "Not Guilty" and costs were awarded against the police! This was considered unremarkable in 1950.

Family history

Six hundred years after Sir Nicholas Colfox (on the instructions of Richard II and his feudal lord, the Duke of Norfolk) was involved in the murder of the King's uncle, Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester (1397), Sir Philip had returned Colfoxs to the national scene. Although Sir Nicholas was pardoned by King Henry IV in 1404, it had been a long absence.




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