Phillips, Alexander H. (1804–1880)

By: Hobart Huson

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 1, 1995

Alexander H. (Judge) Phillips, pioneer lawyer and legislator, was born in Montgomery County, New York, on June 16, 1804. After graduating from Union College in 1825 he studied law until 1830 and taught in the Lawrenceville, New Jersey, prep school for boys. He came to Texas in 1837, was admitted to the Texas bar the following year, and practiced law in Houston and Galveston. From 1839 to 1841 he was in partnership with Milford Phillips Norton. After both men visited Refugio County in the interests of a client, Phillips settled in Lamar, where he married Susan B. MacRae. He represented Refugio County in the Eighth Congress of the Republic of Texas, in 1843–44. He moved to Victoria and served the district after annexation as a senator in the first three state legislatures, 1846–50. From 1852 to 1861 Phillips practiced law in partnership with John McClanahan. The 1860 census listed him as owning $35,000 in real and personal property, including seven slaves. After the Civil War he served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1866. He was an incorporator of the Central Transit Company Railroad, chartered in November 1866 and intended to connect Texas with the Pacific coast but never built. He formed a partnership with Samuel A. Neville in 1868 and in 1870 joined the firm of Samuel C. Lackey and future Texas Supreme Court chief justice John William Stayton; the firm was renamed Phillips, Lackey, and Stayton. In the 1870s Phillips was senior member of the Victoria bar, whose members claimed that "his was a name to conjure by." Phillips was an elder of the Presbyterian church at Victoria for thirty years and was one of the founders and incorporators of Aranama College. He died in Victoria on June 24, 1880. A daughter, Mary Phillips, married Jesse O. Wheeler of Victoria, pioneer navigator of the Guadalupe River. Two sons, Alexander H. Phillips, Jr., and William Phillips, both served the Confederacy as officers in the Sixth Texas Infantry. Alexander served as major of that unit until his death in Montgomery, Alabama, on June 4, 1863. William was captured at Arkansas Post in 1863 and taken to the notorious Camp Chase, Ohio, where he died. The Phillips home in Victoria, built of Guadalupe River brick, was erected by noted contractor Richard Owens, a New Yorker who fought in the Texas Revolution and later built the first Victoria courthouse. Sam Houston was given a grand ball and reception in the Phillips home during the 1857 gubernatorial race. The home remains a landmark structure of old Victoria.

Roy Grimes, ed., 300 Years in Victoria County (Victoria, Texas: Victoria Advocate, 1968; rpt., Austin: Nortex, 1985). Victor Marion Rose, History of Victoria (Laredo, 1883; rpt., Victoria, Texas: Book Mart, 1961). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). The Victoria Sesquicentennial "Scrapbook" (Victoria, Texas: Victoria Advocate, 1974).
  • Education
  • Educators
  • General Education
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
  • First Legislature (1846)
  • Second Legislature (1847-1848)
  • Third Legislature (1849-1850)
  • Senate
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Hobart Huson, “Phillips, Alexander H.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 05, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995

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