On 19th of April 1721 John Phillips was traveling to Newfoundland on a ship that was taken by the pirate brigantine, "Good Fortune", which was commanded by Pirate Captain Thomas Anstis. Phillips joined with the pirate crew as a ship's carpenter and stayed with the "Good Fortune" until the crew broke up at Tobago. He then returned to England where he remained until he heard that of some of his mates from Good Fortune were imprisoned in the Bristol Goal. Fearing prosecution for piracy, he signed himself on a ship bound for Newfoundland.
After a short stay in Newfoundland, he and others seized a ship from the harbor and went to to sea. The pirate crew chose officers and set down articles to curb any disputes. Phillips was elected captain of the Pirate Ship "Revenge". Before leaving the area, they took several small vessels and added to their crew. The ship arrived off Barbados where they took a couple of prizes, one by bluff alone.
The next stop was Tobago where they careened the "Revenge" for repairs. They were just finished and were able to sneak away shortly before the arrival of a Man of War. At one point after the pirates took a ship, some of the crew attempted to make off with the prize. Phillips gave chase and recaptured the ship. It is believed that Phillips was shot in the leg during this battle. The wound festered and the leg had to be amputated a few days later.
Going north from Tobago, the pirates took a Portuguese ship and couple of other sloops. On the 25th of March 1724 they took two more ships. After taking several additional ships, including a sloop and schooner in early April, they make their way back to Newfoundland. Along the way they replaced "Revenge" with sloop out of Cape Ann.
Several of the crew, anxious to be done with pirating, mutinied on April 18th, 1724, tossing several of the officers over the side. Once in control of the ship they changed course and arrived in Boston on the 3rd of May 1724. John Phillips was not among the pirate crew that were tried and executed. It is believed that he died during the April mutiny.