Mark Philips, the son of Robert Philips, was born in 1880. A merchant and manufacturer in Manchester, Philips was a supporter of social reform. Members of the group included Thomas Potter, Richard Potter, John Shuttleworth, John Edward Taylor, Archibald Prentice, Absalom Watkin, Joseph Brotherton and William Cowdray.
The group that Prentice called the 'little circle' was strongly influenced by the ideas of Jeremy Bentham and Joseph Priestley. The group objected to a system that denied such important industrial cities as Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, representation in the House of Commons.
In 1831 Absalom Watkin was given the task of drawing up the petition asking the government to grant Manchester two Members of Parliament. As a result of the 1832 Reform Act Manchester had its first two Members of Parliament, Mark Philips and Charles Poulett Thompson.
Philips retired from Parliament in 1847 but served as Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1851. Mark Philips died on 23rd December, 1873.