Nepean, Evan (DNB00)

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NEPEAN, Sir EVAN (1751–1822), secretary of the admiralty, secretary of state for Ireland, governor of Bombay, born in 1751, was the second son of Nicholas Nepean of Saltash, Cornwall. In early life he entered the navy as a clerk; in 1776 he was purser of the Falcon sloop on the coast of North America, in 1777 of the Harpy, in 1779 of the Hero, from which he exchanged, 1 April 1780, to the Foudroyant with Capt. John Jervis, afterwards earl of St. Vincent [q. v.] In 1782 he was secretary to Molyneux Shuldham, lord Shuldham [q. v.], port admiral at Plymouth, and became under-secretary of state in the Shelburne ministry. In 1784 he was made a commissioner of the privy seal; in 1794 he was appointed under-secretary for war; and in 1795 he succeeded Sir Philip Stephens [q. v.] as secretary of the admiralty. For nine busy years he continued in this office, being made a baronet on 16 July 1802; and on 20 Jan. 1804 he was appointed chief secretary for Ireland. It was only for a few months, and in September 1804 he was back at the admiralty as one of the lords commissioners. He went out of office in February 1806, but in 1812 was appointed governor of Bombay, an office which he held till 1819. In 1799 he had purchased the manor of Loders in Dorset, and had afterwards considerably enlarged the estate by other purchases. On his return from Bombay he retired to his seat, and there he died on 2 Oct. 1822, aged 71 (Gent. Mag.)

As a hard-working official, the story of Nepean's active life is buried in the details of administration; but it is worthy of notice that his service at the admiralty, whether as secretary or with a seat at the board, coincided with the date of the great successes of the navy under Jervis, Duncan, and Nelson; and while his early appointment to the admiralty may have been due to some extent to Jervis's interest, it is as probable that Nepean's voice was not without influence in the selection of Jervis for the Mediterranean command. With both Jervis and Nelson he corresponded on terms of friendly familiarity. He married Margaret, daughter of William Skinner, a captain in the army, and had by her four sons and a daughter.

[Gent. Mag. 1822, ii. 373; Haydn's Book of Dignities; Nicolas's Dispatches of Lord Nelson (freq.); Tucker's Mem. of Earl St. Vincent; Official Documents in the Public Record Office; Some correspondence with Jeremy Bentham about the Panopticon is in Addit. MSS. 33541, 33543.]

J. K. L.