William Stephens

William Stephens, was instituted as Rector of Sutton in Surrey on 26 July 1690. His patron was Lady Ann Mason, either Anna Margaretta, the widow of Sir Richard Mason MP, or their daughter, who was then the wife of Charles Gerard, Lord Brandon, radical whig and future earl of Macclesfield.

He appears to have been a diligent Rector. According to the parish register:
"Memorandum yt this Register of Sutton was carried away into Lincoln-shyre by Mrs Wych, ye Widdow of Mr Henery Wych, Rector of this p'sh ["who was buried 15 Sep 1678 " crossed out.-Ed.], & was restored to this p'sh by Mr William Wych, son to ye sd Henery, at ye Int'mission of Mr William Stephens, now Rector of ye p'sh Church at Sutton.

But in ye meane time William Stewart, an honest man, who was Clark of this p'sh from Mr Wych's time til now, kept an account of ye Baptisms, Marriages, & Burialls, wh I am now goeing to transcribe over ye leafe. "
He distinguished himself as a political writer in opposition to the court. He preached before the Lord Mayor on the 30th of January 1694, and before the House of Commons upon the same occasion in 1700. This was the anniversary of the execution of Charles I. In preaching before the House of Commons he omitted the prayer for the King and Royal Family, and took the liberty of suggesting the impropriety of continuing the observance of the day, which was considered as such an insult to the House, that a vote of censure was passed upon him.

In the year 1707 he published a pamphlet, called "A Letter to the Author of the Memorial of the Church of England," containing many severe reflections upon Secretary Harley and the Duke of Marlborough. He was indicted in the Court of Queen's Bench for writing this pamphlet, and was sentenced to pay a fine of 100 marks, to stand twice in the pillory, once at Charing-cross, and once at the Royal Exchange, and to find sureties for his good behaviour for twelve months.

The ignominious part of his sentence was at length remitted, but not till he had been taken to a public-house at Charing-cross, whence he saw the pillory erected, and the multitudes of people who were assembled to be witnesses of his disgrace.

Mr. Stephens published also "A Sermon without Doors, to the Protestants of Ireland now residing in London; preached at their Anniversary Meeting, Oct. 23, 1712; in commemoration of their Deliverance from the barbarous Massacre committed by the Irish Papists in the year 1641. London, 1713. 4to."

He made his will in April 1712, making his wife, Susanna, who survived him, sole executor; his will referred to three children, and also to another daughter, Sarah Burridge, to whom he left only a shilling.

The following are baptisms recorded in the Sutton Parish register

29 Sep 1690 William s. William Stephens, Rector of Sutton.
17 Nov 1691 Elizab. d. William Stephens, Rector.
06 Jan 1692 Mary d. Will. Stephens, Rector.
31 Jan 1694 Samuell s. Will. Stephens, Rector.
09 Jan 1709 Catherine Daughter of William Stevens
31 Jan 1711 Charls s. William Stephens, Rector.


28 Oct 1700 Susanna d. Will. Stephens.
26 Feb 1708 William s. William Stephens, Rector.

William Stephens, Rector was buried on the 31 Jan 1717

The Stephens or Stevens family continued in the area until the 19th century. Sarah Burridge the daughter who only got a shilling was buried in Sutton, 30 Jul 1728.

There is an interesting marriage recorded in the register dated 25 Feb 1722 between a James Ramsay & Mary Stephens. James Ramsey was the name of the Rector who followed William Stephens in 1717.

Sutton Parish Registers
The Environs of London: volume 1, 1792, Pages:492-496
Stuart Handley, ‘Stephens, William (1649/50-1718)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004;