STEPHENS, William (1671-1753), of Bowcombe, nr. Newport, I.o.W.
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Family and Education
b. 28 Jan. 1671, 1st s. of Sir William Stephens of Bowcombe, lt.-gov. of I.o.W., by Elizabeth, da. of Henry Hillary of Dorset, grazier. educ. Winchester 1684-8; King’s, Camb. 1689; M. Temple 1691. m.1697, Mary, da. of Sir Richard Newdigate, 2nd Bt., M.P., of Arbury, Warws., 7s. 2da. suc. fa. 1697.
Col. militia; commr. of victualling 1712-14; agent for York Buildings Co. in Scotland 1728-35; sec. to trustees of Georgia 1737-41; pres. Savannah, Georgia 1741-3; gov. Georgia 1743-51.
Stephens inherited the manor of Bowcombe, which had been bought by his grandfather in 1671.1 A Tory under Anne, he was re-elected for Newport in 1715 on his own interest, voting against the Administration in all recorded divisions. His name was sent to the Pretender in 1721 as a probable supporter in the event of a rising. In 1722, having lost his interest at Newport to the Government, he was returned for Newtown by Sir Robert Worsley. In 1724 he was described to the Duke of Bolton (Charles Powlett), lord lieutenant of Hampshire, as ‘one of those men that always opposed your interest on your elections, and all your friends down to this day; he is one of those men that meets and belongs to the Tory club’.2 In 1728, ruined by extravagance, he sold all his property and absconded, until his friends found him the job of agent for the York Buildings Company in North Scotland at a salary of £200 p.a. In 1732 he declined an invitation from the Isle of Wight Tories to stand again for Newport. Losing his job in 1735, when the Company sold their assets, he went to South Carolina as agent for a friend. On his return, he was made secretary to the Georgia Trustees, Lord Egmont describing him as ‘a very sensible man’.3 He became president of Savannah County in 1741 and governor of the whole of Georgia in 1743. Retiring in 1751 with a pension of £80, he died in great poverty, August 1753.