STEPHENS, Samuel (1728-94), of St. Ives, Cornw.
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Family and Education
bap. 1728, 1st surv. s. of John Stephens of St. Ives by Mary, da. of Samuel Phillips of Pendrea, Cornw. educ. Helston sch.; Trinity, Camb. 1746. m. June 1762, Anne, da. and h. of Richard Seaborn of Bristol, 3s. 3da. suc. fa. 1764.
Mayor, St. Ives 1761, 1763, 1765.
The Stephens family, who had been settled at St. Ives since the fifteenth century, were Presbyterians, deriving their wealth from the local fishery and mines. They had acquired considerable property in and around the town, playing a prominent part in its affairs. Stephens’s father acted for many years as electoral agent for John Hobart, 1st Earl of Buckinghamshire. Stephens studied for the church, but came home after the death of his elder brother1 and in 1751 was put up for St. Ives by his father. Lord Buckinghamshire went down to oppose him, charging him with ‘being no friend to the Government nor Administration’ and enlisting the officers of the port against him,2 whereupon the head of his college wrote to Newcastle:
During my connexions with him I had all the reason possible to imagine him a most loyal subject and a zealous friend to his Majesty and his government ... My friend Mr. White who was his schoolmaster in Cornwall and is now very well acquainted with him writes me word that no method of injuring Mr. Stephens could be so improper as to charge him with disaffection, and observes very justly that it is a strange paradox to reckon the son of a Dissenter an enemy to the Government.3
He was successful, but did not stand in 1754. After his father’s death, he decided to live like a gentleman, disposing of everything connected with trade or the fishery, and began to build a splendid mansion in the town, Tregenna Castle. He also pulled down the local Presbyterian chapel and withdrew his support from its minister. In 1774 he stood unsuccessfully for the borough, where he had acquired much unpopularity by his conduct.4 He died at Bath, 1 Mar. 1794.