Looking commanding here in the uniform of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, William Phillips was described by one contemporary as ‘honest, industrious and irascible’. An able soldier, in 1756 he was appointed aide-de-camp to Sir John Ligonier, Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance (later Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces in Germany). With Ligonier’s influence, he advanced over the heads of fellow officers who had greater seniority.During the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), Phillips was posted to Germany in command of a brigade of British artillery attached to the army of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick. His bold and innovative deployment of the artillery made a major contribution to the Allied victories of Minden (1759) and Warburg (1760). On the conclusion of the war, Phillips was posted to Woolwich in command of a company of artillery for a period. It must have been then that he sat to Cotes for this portrait.
Read about his career in the American Revolution here