Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 54.djvu/168

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high reputation from the first, and became, as it still is, the standard work of the kind; new editions have been published at regular intervals. In 1842 Stephen was placed on a commission for inquiring into the forgery of exchequer bills, and in the same year became commissioner of bankruptcy at Bristol; Matthew Davenport Hill [q. v.] was his colleague. He lived at Cleevewood, near Bristol, till his retirement from this post in 1854, and afterwards lived at Clifton until his death on 28 Nov. 1864. He amused his later years by speculating on the prophecies and the theory of music, and, though courteous and kindly, saw little at any time of society. His diffidence prevented him from obtaining the reputation as a writer or the position in his profession which he might have fairly claimed.

His wife and a daughter died before him. He left two children. His daughter Sarah, born 28 June 1816, was author of a religious story called ‘Anna; or the Daughter at Home,’ which went through several editions, and one of the founders of the Metropolitan Association for befriending Young Servants. She died, aged 79, on 5 Jan. 1895. His son James, born 116 Sept. 1820, was recorder of Poole, professor of law in King's College, London, and afterwards judge of the county court at Lincoln. He edited later editions of the ‘Commentaries’ and ‘Questions for Law Students’ upon the same. He died 25 Nov. 1894.

Stephen's works are: 1. ‘A Treatise on the Principles of Pleading in Civil Actions: comprising a Summary of the whole Proceedings in a Suit of Law,’ 1824, 1827, 1834, 1838, 1843, 1860 (by J. Stephen and F. F. Pender); and 1866 (by F. F. Pender); eight American editions from 1824 to 1859. 2. ‘Summary of the Criminal Law,’ 1834; translated as ‘Handbuch des englischen Strafrechts,’ &c., by E. Mühry, 1843. 3. ‘New Commentaries on the Laws of England’ (partly founded on Blackstone), 1841–5, 4 vols. 8vo; later editions, edited by his son, James Stephen, and his grandson, H. St. James Stephen; the tenth appeared in 1895. The book was reprinted in America in 1843–1846.

[Life of Sir J. F. Stephen, by L. Stephen; family papers.]

L. S.


STEPHEN, JAMES (1758–1832), master in chancery, born on 30 June 1758 at Poole in Dorset, was the son of James Stephen, born about 1733. The elder Stephen came from Aberdeenshire, and was supercargo of a ship wrecked about 1752 on Purbeck Island. Stephen was hospitably received by Mr. Milner, collector of customs at Poole, and soon afterwards privately married to Milner's youngest daughter, Sibella. He was reconciled to her family and taken into partnership by her brother, but, after some unfortunate speculations at Poole, got into the king's bench prison. He there obtained some notoriety by writing pamphlets to show that imprisonment for debt was contrary to Magna Charta and by organising an agitation in the prison. The benchers of the Middle Temple refused afterwards to call him to the bar, and he was employed in the business of a solicitor. He fell into difficulties, lost his wife in 1775, and died in poverty in 1779.

The younger James had a desultory education during his father's struggles. He was a precocious lad, and when fourteen fell in love with Anne Stent, sister of a schoolfellow. Their correspondence was forbidden, and, with the help of an uncle, he was in 1773 sent for a short time to Winchester school. The help of other relatives enabled him to pass two sessions, in 1775–6 and 1777–8, at Marischal College, Aberdeen. He returned to London, helped his father's last struggles, and supported himself for a time as reporter to the ‘Morning Post.’ He now persuaded Miss Stent to accept him and throw over another engagement, in spite of her father's disapproval. A simultaneous love affair with another girl brought him into serious perplexities, which caused a breach with Miss Stent. Meanwhile a brother of his father, who was settled as a physician and planter at St. Christopher's, had taken his elder brother, William, into partnership. The uncle died in 1781, leaving all his property to William. William hereupon sent funds which enabled James to be called to the bar (26 Jan. 1782), and next year to sail for St. Christopher's. Miss Stent had finally relented, in spite of the other young woman, and married him before his departure.

Stephen touched at Barbados on his way out, and was shocked at the brutality shown to some negroes on their trial for murder. He made and kept a vow that he would have nothing to do with slavery. Later incidents strengthened the impression. At St. Christopher's he practised at the bar. There was a good deal of legal business arising from the regulation of the trade between the West Indies and the United States. He earned enough to be able to visit England in the winter of 1788–9. He put himself in communication with Wilberforce, who was starting the agitation against the slave trade, and, after returning to the West Indies, sent