He was born in Albany, New York, to Philip (1686–1749), 2nd Lord of the Manor. Philip, however, was Lord Livingston’s fourth son, and thus could not inherit. The wife of the 2nd Lord of the Manor was a daughter of Albany, New York, Mayor Pieter Van Brugh. On 14 April 1720 he married Christina Ten Broeck, daughter of Dirk and Margarita (Cuyler) Ten Broeck. Their son Philip Philip Livingston’s daughter Christina (1774–1841) married John Navarre Macomb (1774–1810) who was the son of Alexander and Catherine (Navarre) Macomb and brother of Major General Alexander Macomb.
Philip attended and graduated from Yale College in 1737. He then settled in New York City and pursued a mercantile career. He became prominent as a merchant, and was elected Alderman in 1754. He was reelected to that office each year until 1763. Also in 1754, he went as a delegate to the Albany Congress. There, he joined delegates from several other colonies to negotiate with Indians and discuss common plans for dealing with the French and Indian War. They also developed a Plan of Union for the Colonies which was, however, rejected by King George.
Livingston became an active promoter of efforts to raise and fund troops for the war, and in 1759 was elected to the Province of New York assembly. He would hold that office until 1769, serving as Speaker in 1768. In October 1765, he attended the Stamp Act Congress, which produced the first formal protest to the crown as a prelude to the American Revolution. Philip became strongly aligned with the radical block in that Congress. He joined New York City’s Committee of Correspondence to continue communication with leaders in the other colonies, and New York City’s Committee of Sixty.
When New York established the New York Provincial Congress in 1775, he was the President. They also selected him as one of their delegates to the Continental Congress that year. In the Congress, he strongly supported separation from Great Britain and in 1776 joined other delegates in the Declaration of Independence.
After the adoption of the new New York State Constitution, he was appointed to the New York State Senate (Southern D.) in 1777, while continuing to sit in the Continental Congress. He died suddenly while attending the sixth session of Congress in York, Pennsylvania and is buried in the Prospect Hill Cemetery there. Livingston was a Presbyterian, a Mason, and an original promoter of King’s College, which became Columbia University.