Facts and Events
Sir William Phips (or Phipps, February 2, 1650/1 – February 18, 1694/5) was a shipwright, ship's captain, treasure hunter, military leader, and the first royally-appointed governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. He is perhaps best remembered for establishing, and later over-ruling and disbanding, the court associated with the infamous Salem Witch Trials.
Of humble origin and poorly educated, he was a shipbuilder in Boston before embarking on several treasure hunting expeditions to the West Indies. He became famous in London when he recovered a large treasure from a sunken Spanish galleon, a feat that earned him instant wealth and a knighthood. In 1690, during King William's War, he led a successful military expedition against Port Royal, Acadia, and then made a disastrous attempt to capture Quebec later the same year.
Despite the military setback and his crude country manner, his connections in London and with the influential Mather family gained him the governorship of Massachusetts. He was not politically sophisticated, and became enmeshed in controversies (including physical altercations with other officials) that led to his recall to England to answer a variety of charges. He died in London before the charges against him were heard.