Sir Philip Stephens, 1st Baronet

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Sir Philip Stephens, 1st Baronet (11 October 1723 – 20 November 1809) was First Secretary of the Admiralty in the late 18th century and later a Lord Commissioner of the British Admiralty between 1795 and 1806. A friend of Captain James Cook, the Pacific atoll of Caroline Island is named for his daughter.

He was the last Member of Parliament to have served under George II.


Philip Stephens was descended from a family settled for many generations at Eastington in Gloucestershire.[1] He was the youngest son of Nathaniel Stephens, rector of Alphamstone in Essex, and was born there. He was educated at the free school at Harwich,[2] and at an early age obtained an appointment as clerk in the navy victualling office, as his eldest brother, Tyringham Stephens, had previously done.[1]

After his return from his voyage round the world, Rear-admiral George Anson (afterwards Lord Anson) took notice of young Stephens, and had him moved to the admiralty. Stephens afterwards served as Anson's secretary, and was appointed assistant secretary of the admiralty. In 1763 he became secretary, and so continued for upwards of thirty years. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on 6 June 1771, and from 1768 to 1806 he represented Sandwich in the House of Commons,[1] eventually becoming Father of the House.

In 1795 he applied for permission to resign his office at the admiralty, and was then, 17 March, created a baronet and appointed one of the lords of the admiralty. By a special recommendation on 15 October 1806 Stephens, at the age of eighty-one, was granted a pension of £1,600,[3] which he enjoyed till his death on 20 November 1809. He was buried in Fulham church.[1]

His only son, Captain Thomas Stephens, was killed in a duel at Margate in 1790; and his nephew, Colonel Stephens Howe, who was included in the patent of baronetcy, predeceased him. The baronetcy thus became extinct. An elder brother, Nathaniel Stephens, died a captain in the navy in 1747; and two nephews, also captains in the navy, William and Tyringham Howe, died in 1760 and 1783 respectively.[1] Sir Philip's (illegitimate) only daughter, Caroline Elizabeth, married Thomas Jones, 6th Viscount Ranelagh in 1804, but died in childbirth the next year without surviving issue;[4] she was buried in the same vault in Fulham church.[5] With no living descendants, Sir Philip bequeathed his entire estate to Viscount Ranelagh.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 John Knox Laughton, Philip Stephens, in Sidney Lee, ed. (1898), Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 54, p. 186
  2. Gentleman's Magazine 1810, i. 128
  3. Orders in Council, vol. lxvi.
  4. Darry Lundy, Caroline Elizabeth Stephens, The Accessed 3 November 2009
  5. Historical Sculptures Search, Hammersmith and Fulham Council. Accessed 3 November 2009



 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain[ "Stephens, Philip" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> This entry cites:

    • Burke's Extinct Baronetcies and Landed Gentry;
    • Gentleman's Magazine 1809, ii. 1180, 1234;
    • Faulkner's Fulham, pp. 272–3; Thomson's Royal Society;
    • Official Returns of Members of Parliament. **Stephens's name is very prominent in the admiralty correspondence of the last half of the 18th century.
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Edmund Nugent
Philip Stanhope
Member for Liskeard
With: Philip Stanhope 1759–61
Anthony Champion 1761–68
Succeeded by
Edward Eliot
Samuel Salt
Preceded by
The Viscount Conyngham
George Hay
Member for Sandwich
With: The Viscount Conyngham 1768–74
William Hey 1774–76
Charles Brett 1776–80
Sir Richard Sutton, Bt 1780–84
Charles Brett 1784–90
Sir Horatio Mann 1790–1801
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Member for Sandwich
With: Sir Horatio Mann
Succeeded by
Sir Horatio Mann
Thomas Fremantle
Preceded by
William Drake
Father of the House
Succeeded by
Clement Tudway
Baronetage of Great Britain
New creation Baronet
(of Horsford)