FOX, Stephen (1704-76), of Redlynch, Som.
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Family and Education
b. 12 Sept. 1704, 1st surv. s. of Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen Fox, M.P., and e. bro. of Henry Fox. educ. Eton 1715; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1721; Grand Tour (Low Countries, France, Italy) 1723-5. m. 15 Mar. 1736, Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Strangways Horner of Mells, Som. by Susannah, da. and coh. of Thomas Strangways of Melbury, sis. and h. of Thomas Strangways, formerly Horner, of Melbury, Dorset, 3s. 4da. suc. fa. 1716; assumed add. name of Strangways Feb. 1758 on d. of his w.’s mother. cr. Lord Ilchester, Baron of Woodford Strangways, 11 May 1741; Lord Ilchester and Stavordale, Baron of Redlynch 12 Jan. 1747; Earl of Ilchester 17 June 1756.
Jt. sec. to Treasury June 1739-Apr. 1741; jt. comptroller of army accounts 1747-d.; P.C. 22 Apr. 1763.
Beginning life as a footman,1 Sir Stephen Fox, the founder of the Fox family, made a great fortune under Charles II as paymaster of the forces, investing most of it in land in Wiltshire and Somerset. By his first wife he had one son, who succeeded him as paymaster but predeceased him; by his second, whom he married in his 77th year, he left two sons, Stephen and Henry. The elder, Stephen, entered Parliament as a Tory for Shaftesbury in 1726, soon after he had come of age. Re-elected in 1727, he went to Italy in 1728 with Lord Hervey, who confessed to feeling towards him more like ‘a mistress than a friend’.2 Returning with Hervey to England in 1729, he voted with the Opposition on the Hessians in 1730, but soon afterwards went over to the Government, seconding an address to the King on the Princess Royal’s marriage in a speech ‘got by heart’, 8 Apr. 1733, and the Address at the opening of the session in 1734. He moved the Address in 1736, in which year he married clandestinely a 13 year old heiress, whose mother was keeping his brother, Henry. He spoke for the Government on the army estimates in 1737,3 moving the Address again in 1738 in a speech described as ‘masterly’.4 His claims to recognition were strongly pressed by Hervey on Walpole, who tried to stave him off with a promise of a peerage as soon as any peers were created, but was eventually forced, against his own inclination, to make him joint secretary to the Treasury,5 dealing with the preparations for the general election.6 In February 1741 he spoke against the motion for Walpole’s removal, soon afterwards resigning his Treasury post on obtaining a peerage, in return for a payment to Lady Yarmouth, the King’s mistress.7 He took little further part in national politics, but kept up his interest at Shaftesbury, for which he received £400 a year from the secret service money under Pelham and Walpole.8 In 1756 he secured an earldom through the influence of his brother, Henry.9 He died 26 Sept. 1776.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Romney R. Sedgwick
- 1. HMC Egmont Diary, iii. 260; Walpole to Mann, 29 May 1744.
- 2. Hervey, Mems. p. xxiii.
- 3. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 371; ii. 350; see HORNER, Thomas, and FOX, Henry.
- 4. HMC 14th Rep. IX, 10.
- 5. Hervey, Mems. 453, 667, 740-1; Walpole, Mems. Geo. II, i. 205.
- 6. Ilchester, Lord Holland, i. 78.
- 7. HMC Egmont Diary, iii. 260.
- 8. Namier, Structure, 228, 429 n. 7 et seq.
- 9. Ilchester, i. 344.