STEPNEY (or STEPNETH) family, of Prendergast, Pembrokeshire

The family was founded by Alban Stepney, a Hertfordshire man and son of Thomas Stepney of S. Albans by his wife Dorothy, daughter of John Winde of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire. Educated at Cambridge and Clement's Inn, it is said that he came to Wales as a young lawyer in the employ of bishop Richard Davies during the visitation of 1559. On 31 December 1561 the bishop appointed him receiver-general of the diocese of S. Davids for life. He was also registrar of the diocese. He married (1), 1565, Margaret (c. 1546 - ante 1573), daughter and coheiress of Thomas Catharn of Prendergast, who brought him the manor of Prendergast, and (2), before 1573, Mary, daughter of William Philipps of Picton. In local politics he became prominent within a group of gentry, led by William Philipps, in opposition to Sir John Perrot and his faction. He was a justice of the peace for county Pembroke and Haverfordwest, deputy lieutenant of county Pembroke, sheriff for county Pembroke in 1573, 1590, and 1605, and for county Carmarthen in 1597, Member of Parliament for Haverfordwest in 1572, 1584, and 1586, for Cardigan borough in 1588, and for county Pembroke in 1602. He died 19 August 1611. His heir, JOHN STEPNEY (born 1581), was created a baronet in 1621. He was educated at Oxford and Lincoln's Inn and married, before 1611, Jane, daughter of Sir Francis Mansel of Muddlescomb, Carmarthenshire He was a justice of the peace, sheriff for county Pembroke in 1614, and mayor of Haverfordwest in 1620. He died 21 July 1626 and was succeeded by his son Sir ALBAN STEPNEY (c. 1607 - 1628), whose brother, Sir JOHN STEPNEY (born c. 1618), became the 3rd baronet. He was governor of the town of Haverfordwest during the Civil War and was one of the few Pembrokeshire gentlemen who remained loyal to the king. He was imprisoned by the Parliamentary forces after his capture at Hereford in 1645. In 1637 he was sheriff for county Pembroke. He was Member of Parliament for Pembroke in 1640 and sat in the Long Parliament for Haverfordwest, 1640-3. In 1662 he was mayor of Haverfordwest and deputy lieutenant of county Pembroke in 1674. His wife was Magdalen, daughter of Sir Henry Jones of Abermarlais. He died before 26 September 1676. His nephew, Sir JOHN BAPTIST STEPNEY (died 1681), the 4th baronet, married Justina Marianna, daughter of Sir Anthony Vandyke, the painter. Their son, Sir THOMAS STEPNEY, the 5th baronet, married Margaret, sister and coheir of Walter Vaughan of Llanelly, about 1691-3. He was sheriff for county Pembroke in 1697 and Member of Parliament for county Carmarthen in 1717. He died before 15 February 1745. It seems that the Stepneys transferred their interests from Pembrokeshire to Carmarthenshire (where they are still represented by the families of Stepney-Gulston of Derwydd and Howard-Stepney of Cilymaenllwyd) and in 1772 their Pembrokeshire property was sold. The 8th baronet, Sir JOHN STEPNEY (1743 - 1811), was Member of Parliament for Monmouth, 1767-83, minister to Dresden 1775-82, and to Berlin 1782-4. With the death of his brother, Sir THOMAS STEPNEY (1760 - 1825), groom of the bed-chamber to the duke of York, the baronetcy became extinct. His wife was the novelist lady Catherine Stepney (died 1845) (see D.N.B.).

The D.N.B. deals with another member of this family, namely GEORGE STEPNEY (1663 - 1707), poet and envoy.


Published date: 1959

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