Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Stephens, Philip

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

STEPHENS, Sir PHILIP (1725–1809), secretary of the admiralty, one of a family settled for many generations at Eastington in Gloucestershire, was the youngest son of Nathaniel Stephens, rector of Alphamstone in Essex, and was born there. He was educated at the free school at Harwich (Gent. Mag. 1810, i. 128), and at an early age obtained an appointment as clerk in the navy victualling office, as his eldest brother, Tyringham Stephens, had previously done. After his return from his voyage round the world, Rear-admiral George Anson (afterwards Lord Anson) [q. v.] took notice of young Stephens, and had him moved to the admiralty. Stephens afterwards served as Anson's secretary, and was appointed assistant secretary of the admiralty. In 1763 he became secretary, and so continued for upwards of thirty years. He was elected F.R.S. on 6 June 1771, and from 1768 to 1806 he represented Sandwich in the House of Commons. In 1795 he applied for permission to resign his office at the admiralty, and was then, 17 March, created a baronet and appointed one of the lords of the admiralty. By a special recommendation on 15 Oct. 1806 (Orders in Council, vol. lxvi.) Stephens, at the age of eighty-one, was granted a pension of 1,600l., which he enjoyed till his death on 20 Nov. 1809. He was buried in Fulham church. His only son, Captain Thomas Stephens, was killed in a duel at Margate in 1790; and his nephew, Colonel Stephens Howe, who was included in the patent of baronetcy, predeceased him. The baronetcy thus became extinct. An elder brother, Nathaniel Stephens, died a captain in the navy in 1747; and two nephews, also captains in the navy, William and Tyringham Howe, died in 1760 and 1783 respectively.

[Burke's Extinct Baronetcies and Landed Gentry: Gent. Mag. 1809, ii. 1180, 1234; Faulkner's Fulham. pp. 272-3; Thomson's Royal Society; Official Returns of Members of Parliament. Stephens's name is very prominent in the admiralty correspondence of the last half of the eighteenth century.]

J. K. L.