JEPHSON, William (c.1647-91), of Boarstall, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1679
1690 - 7 June 1691

Family and Education

b. c.1647, 2nd s. of William Jephson (d.1658) of Froyle, Hants by Alice, da. and coh. of Sir John Dynham of Boarstall. educ. M. Temple 1665, called 1673, m. by 1674, his cos. Mary, da. of William Lewis of The Van, Glam. and Boarstall, and coh. to her bro. Edward Lewis, s.p.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Bucks. 1677-80, Bucks. and Chipping Wycombe 1689-90; freeman, Chipping Wycombe 1689; j.p. and dep. lt. Bucks. 1689-d.2

Private sec. to William of Orange Dec. 1688-9; sec. to the Treasury 1689-d.3


Jephson’s ancestors held the manor of Froyle from the dissolution of the monasteries until 1652. His great-uncle and his grandfather, who acquired extensive property in Ireland, both represented Hampshire in Jacobean Parliaments. His father, a Presbyterian, sat for Stockbridge in the Long Parliament until Pride’s Purge, serving in the parliamentary forces both in Ireland and England, and subsequently rallying to the Protector, who sent him to Sweden as envoy in 1657. Jephson’s elder brother succeeded to the Irish estates, and Jephson himself, although a qualified barrister, is not known to have practised after marrying a Buckinghamshire heiress. He joined the Green Ribbon Club, and became a follower of the Hon. Thomas Wharton, to whom he wrote on 14 July 1679 that through John Clayton he had been introduced to Robert Goodwin, who had an interest at East Grinstead.

I was this day with Major Clayton to wait upon Mr Goodwin (who is in town) to thank him and his daughter for their civilities in the last business of Grinstead (not designing to speak of any new matter to him); but before my parting, she began and made the offer of their assistance, and he then confirmed it.

He was also offered the support of the Borlase and Lovelace interests at Marlow to oppose (Sir) Humphrey Winch, and of the dissenters at Great Yarmouth. But with additional support from Lord Dorset (Charles Sackville), who was reckoned his friend, he felt justifiably confident of carrying East Grinstead, and he was duly returned with Goodwin Wharton. But he took no ascertainable part in the proceedings of the second Exclusion Parliament. Edward Dering canvassed Rye on his behalf at the next general election, but soon discovered that his candidature was hopeless. After the Rye House Plot it was reported that Jephson and Charles Godfrey, another Wharton henchman, had been arrested for denying the genuineness of Monmouth’s confession in the Gazette. He stood unsuccessfully with Henry Wharton at Malmesbury in 1685, and their petition was never reported.4

Jephson, together with Wharton, Godfrey and Lord Colchester (Richard Savage), was among the first to join William of Orange in 1688, and was appointed private secretary to the prince, who would have thought him qualified to act as secretary of state if he had been more of a linguist. He opposed the cancellation of James II’s writs for elections, but was overborne by the more violent Whigs. He attended the meeting of Members of Charles II’s Parliaments on 26 Dec. and helped to draw up the address asking William to summon a convention. He was returned for Wycombe on the Wharton interest, and became a moderately active Member, with 18 committee appointments. He presented the letter from his master on 22 Jan. 1689 which replaced the usual speech from the throne, and was appointed to the committee to bring in a list of the essentials for securing religion, laws and liberties. He also helped to draw up the address promising assistance in defence of the Protestant religion, and to consider the bill to punish mutiny and desertion. After his appointment as secretary of the Treasury in July he was ordered to explain how Jacobites arrested in England had later appeared in arms in Ireland, and two days later he was able to satisfy the Commons that no passes had been issued to them. He told the House on 14 Dec. that he had rewarded the captain of the ship which broke the boom at Londonderry, and on the same day he was appointed to the committee to examine the state of the revenue. He supported the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations, and was re-elected in 1690, but died of a malignant fever on 7 June 1691. He was the last of the family to sit for an English constituency, though his brother’s descendants regularly represented Mallow both before and after the Act of Union.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Leonard Naylor


  • 1. Lipscomb, Bucks. i. 66; HMC Egrnont, i. 332.
  • 2. First Wycombe Ledger Bk. (Bucks. Rec. Soc. xi), 224.
  • 3. Luttrell, i. 492.
  • 4. VCH Hants, ii. 502; Keeler, Long Parl. 234; Bodl. Carte 103, ff. 221-2; Savile Corresp. (Cam. Soc. lxxi), 130; CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 209; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. I, p. 395; CJ, ix. 720.
  • 5. Wood’s Life and Times (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xxvi), 282, 363; Foxeroft, Halifax, ii. 202; Clarendon Corresp. ii. 221; CJ, x. 217, 220; Grey, ix. 481; Luttrell, ii. 242.