William Philip Colfox was born on February 25, 1888 at Bridport, Dorset, England the son of Colonel Thomas Alfred Colfox of Coneygar, Bridport and Constance Nettlefold of Birmingham. He was educated at Eton College and Woolwich.
During World War I he served as a Major in the Royal Field Artillery but was wounded in 1917, for which he received a Military Cross. For the remaider of the war he taught classics and mathematics at Eton.
At the 1918 general election, Colfox was elected as Conservative Member of Parliament for North Dorset. 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. he was in 1920 Minister for Pensions.
In 1920, he married Mary Frances Bullen (1892–1973), the daughter of John Bullen Symes Bullen of Catherston, Charmouth Dorset. They had 2 sons and 2 daughters
At the 1922 general election, he was returned to the House of Commons as MP for West Dorset and 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.
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, his wife recalled that he was irritated by this inspection saying: “What do they know about running a war in London?”
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. He remained an Alderman of Dorset County Council until a great age.
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 once asked at a party in Kent – “Are you related to that bad driver from Dorset?”
Sir Philip Colfox, 1st Baronet died on November 8, 1966