Clement-Jones family - Person Sheet
Clement-Jones family - Person Sheet
NameJames STEPHEN , 7853
Birth1758, Poole
FatherJames STEPHEN , 8383 (1733-1779)
MotherSibella MILNER , 8384
1Anna STENT, 8778
ChildrenJames , 7848 (1789-1859)
 Henry John , 8779 (1787-1864)
 George , 8780 (1794-1879)
 Anne Mary , 8781 (1796-1878)
FatherRobert WILBERFORCE , 7855 (1728-1768)
MotherElizabeth BIRD , 7857 (1730-1798)
Notes for James STEPHEN
From Wikipedia

James Stephen (30 June 1758 – 10 October 1832) was the principal English lawyer associated with the abolitionist movement. Stephen was born in Poole, Dorset; the family home later being removed to Stoke Newington. He married twice and was the father of Sir James Stephen and grandfather of Sir James Fitzjames Stephen and Sir Leslie Stephen and great-grandfather of Virginia Woolf.

Early life

James Stephen began his career reporting on parliamentary proceedings. Later he held an official post in the Caribbean at St. Kitts; at that time a British colony. During a visit to Barbados he witnessed the trial of four black slaves for murder. The trial, which found the men guilty as charged, was considered by many to be a grave miscarriage of justice. The men were sentenced to death by burning, and Stephens' revulsion at both the trial and the verdict led him to vow never to keep slaves himself, and to ally himself with the abolitionist movement. He opposed the opening up of Trinidad through the use of slave labour when ceded to the British in 1797, recommending instead that Crown land should only be granted for estates that supported the immigration of free Africans. He considered that, besides the evangelical arguments in support of freedom from slavery, internal security, particularly from potential French interests, could be obtained in the British West Indian Islands by improving the conditions of slaves.

Stephen was a skilled lawyer whose specialty was the laws governing Great Britain's foreign trade. He was a defender of the mercantilist system of government-licensed controlled trade. In October, 1805 – the same month that the British fleet under Lord Nelson defeated the French fleet – his book appeared: War in Disguise; or, the Frauds of the Neutral Flags. It called for the abolition of neutral nations' carrying trade, meaning America's carrying trade, between France's Caribbean islands and Europe, including Great Britain. Stephen's arguments two years later became the basis of Great Britain's Orders in Council, which placed restrictions on American vessels. The enforcement of this law by British warships eventually led to the War of 1812, even though the Orders were repealed in the same month that America declared war, unbeknown to the American Congress.


James Stephen's second marriage was to Sarah, sister of William Wilberforce, in 1800, and through this connection he became frequently acquainted with many of the figures in the anti-slavery movement. Several of his friendships amongst the abolitionists were made in Clapham(home to the Clapham Sect) where he had moved from Sloane Square in 1797. Other connections were formed also in the village of Stoke Newington a few miles north of London, where James Stephen's father leased a family home from 1774 onwards called Summerhouse. The property adjoined Fleetwood House and Abney House at Abney Park and stood where Summerhouse Road is built today. Close by were the residences of three prominent Quaker abolitionists: William Allen (1770–1843), Joseph Woods the elder, and Samuel Hoare Jr (1751–1825). The latter two were founder members of the predecessor body to the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Anna Letitia Barbauld, author of An Epistle to William Wilberforce (1791), also came to live in Stoke Newington in 1802. Inevitably, Wilberforce also became a frequent visitor to Stoke Newington, combining meetings with William Allen and his Quaker circle with visits to his sister Sarah and brother-in-law James.

James Stephen came to be regarded as the chief architect of the Slave Trade Act 1807, providing William Wilberforce with the legal mastermind he needed for its drafting. To close off loopholes pointed out by some critics, he became a Director of the Africa Institution for the Registration of Slaves through which he advocated a centralized registry, administered by the British government, which would furnish precise statistics on all slave births, deaths, and sale, so that "any unregistered black would be presumed free". Though he introduced many successful ideas to strengthen the legal success of the abolitionist cause, this mechanism which he believed to be "the only effective means to prevent British colonists from illicitly importing African slaves" was never taken up. His last public engagement was a speaking engagement at a meeting of the Anti-Slavery Society at Exeter Hall in 1832.

Member of Parliament

From 1808 to 1815 James Stephen became an MP, and in 1811 Master in Chancery. In 1826 he issued An Address to the People and Electors of England, in which, echoing his speeches, he had some success in urging the election of Members of Parliament who would not be "tools of the West India interest", paving the way for the second Abolition Bill which succeeded in 1833.


Stephen's second wife, Sarah née Wilberforce, died in 1816. Her Niece, Barbara Wilberforce, died in 1821, and in 1832 Stephen himself died. All three are buried at St Mary's churchyard, Stoke Newington, London, along with Stephen's first wife, his mother and father and two of his infant daughters. Three sons from Stephen's first marriage (m. Anna Stent at St Leonard, Shoreditch 1783) survived him, and achieved prominence in law, abolition and the civil service: Sir James Stephen (1789–1859), Henry John Stephen (1787–1864), and George Stephen (1794–1879). NOTE:- Sarah Wilberforce (c. 1757 – 1816) was the eldest sister of William Wilberforce (1759–1833), the Abolitionist of Slavery, and Barbara (1799–1821) was his daughter.


James Stephen, the second of seven children of James Stephen (1733-1779), and his wife, Sibella Milner (1738–1775), was born on 30th June 1758 at Poole, Dorset. In 1773 he was sent to Winchester College, but for financial reasons, he was forced to return home to Kennington.

After the death of his mother he began studying law. He entered Lincoln's Inn on 23rd September 1775 and studied at Marischal College in Aberdeen, for two years. He had to abandon his studies because of a shortage of money. On his return to London he assisted with his father's practice as a conveyancer.
On the death of his father in September 1779, Stephen became a reporter for The Morning Post. He also reviewed books for the newspaper. In 1781 his uncle died and with his inheritance he finished off his legal education. According to his biographer, Patrick C. Lipscomb: "After passing the bar on 26 January 1782 he made no serious effort to practise, but continued his studies and attempted to collect a legal library."

On 17th June 1783 he married Anna Stent (1758-1796). Later that year he decided to emigrate to the West Indies. He stopped off at Bridgetown and witnessed the trial of four slaves accused and convicted of murder. His biographer argued: "The manifest injustice of the proceedings, the obvious innocence of the accused, and the knowledge that there was good reason to believe that a white man was the murderer led Stephen to vow never to own a slave and to become a committed opponent of slavery."

James Stephen worked as a lawyer on St Kitts. Over the next few years his wife gave birth to seven children. In September 1794 the family returned to London where he became involved in the campaign against slavery. He contributed anti-slavery propaganda to The Morning Chronicle, and he served as counsel for the Sierra Leone Company, presenting evidence before the House of Lords, as part of the campaign against slavery.
After the death of his wife in December 1796, Stephen became converted to Evangelical Christianity. He joined the Clapham Set, a group of evangelical members of the Anglican Church, centered around Henry Venn, rector of Clapham Church in London. He became friends with William Wilberforce and on 15th May 1800 he married his sister, Sarah, the widow of Thomas Clarke.

Stephen was elected a member of the London Abolition Committee on 23rd May 1804. The following year he helped to draft an order in council passed by the government on 15th August to prohibit the importing of slaves into the recently conquered Dutch colony of Guiana. In 1806 he provided Lord Grenville with the draft of a bill to abolish the foreign slave trade, which parliament passed and which effectively outlawed over three-quarters of the existing trade. After the passing of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807 Stephen helped to organize the African Institution.

On 25th February 1808 he was elected to the House of Commons for Tralee. In June 1810 Henry Brougham complained that the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act was ineffective. Brougham argued that Britain was doing nothing to end "this abominable commerce". Yet she was always ready to use her power "when the object is to obtain new colonies and extend the slave trade; then we can both conquer and treat; we have force enough to seize whole provinces where the slave trade might be planted and skill enough to retain them and the additional commerce in slaves their cultivation requires." James Stephen replied: "we have at least delivered ourselves as a nation from the guilt and shame of authorising that cruel and opprobrious traffic... If we have effected nothing more I shall rejoice and bless God to the last hour for this happy deliverance."

In 1812 Stephen changed seats, becoming MP for East Grinstead. According to Patrick C. Lipscomb: "Acutely aware of his want of a classical education Stephen spoke infrequently in parliament, mainly on issues relating to the anti-slavery movement and religion. As a parliamentary speaker Stephen lacked polish, wit, and humour, and was frequently too vehement in tone.... Arguably Stephen's greatest contribution to the anti-slavery movement was his advocacy of slave registration and his drafting of the proposals for registering slaves on the island of Trinidad. This order, as finally passed on 26 March 1812, was later extended to the islands ceded by France at the end of the Napoleonic wars - Mauritius, St Lucia, and Tobago. It also served as a model for the proposed registration of slaves in the older slave colonies."
Stephen resigned his parliamentary seat on 14th April 1815. He now concentrating on writing and published in two volumes, The Slavery of the British West India Colonies Delineated

James Stephen died at Bath on 10th October 1832 and was buried at Stoke Newington.
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