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Stephens

The Stephens or Stevens family were a long-established family in Chewton Mendip. A Margarett Stevens was given poor relief in 1628 an Cecil Stevens was in the Home Guard in WW2. It is not claimed there is a direct family link but the variation in spelling should not be given too much significance even in the Victorian era. The focus of this page is on the John Stephen who was the vicar and rector of Chewton Mendip.
 The online records taken from Burkes Peerage identifies John Stephens as the son of Robert Kingsmill.  The record coyly stats that he was given the name Stephens at birth. The consensus of opinion is that John Stephens was the illegitimate son of Robert Kingsmill. The Burkes Peerage data is not complete or very accurate in many ways but most of the evidence suggests that he was the illegitimate son of Robert Kingsmill so his paternal line was really Brice. Robert Kingsmill was born Robert Brice but he changed his name by act of parliament after marrying into the Kingsmill family.
 Research done by Nigel Gerdes suggest that he was a John Stephens who was born on 10th June 1769 and baptised a day later in St Mary’s in Marylebone Road London. His father was a Robert Stephens, Gent. This was in  a period when Robert Brice had retired from the navy and was living in London so it is perfectly possible that he took advantage of the unspecified Mrs Stephens. This was also a time when Robert Kingsmill was trying to raise money by selling land in Chewton Mendip. Perhaps to buy off Mr Stephens?
 Other records held in the Somerset and Hampshire archives plot his progression through the Oxford University and the church. The Hampshire archives are more informative with at least  160 records starting with the reference of 19MS1 dedicated to the Kingsmill family and their links to Somerset.
 He married Dorothy Mogg in 1793 and was appointed vicar of Chewton Mendip on 3rd October 1793 replacing David Williams who lasted less than a year after the death of  Arthur Annesley.  The 1794 map shows records shows a vicarage house on the site of  The Old Rectory. The Hampshire archives show that a new vicarage house was built between 1799 and 1802 based on Dr Bakers house in Marksbury which makes Chewton House the most likely prospect as his new home and suggests he knew what was coming his way.
John Stephens inherited £30,000 when Robert Kingsmill died in 1805 and he to changed his name to Kingsmill. He also had a set of arms created and Chewton House matches his elevated perception of his  status. He died in 1814 and was succeeded by Henry Hodges Mogg as the vicar of Chewton Mendip. Henry Hodges Mogg was living in Farrington Gurney at the time and may not have wanted, or have been able, to take in Chewton House so he built yet another new vicarage house.
His inheritence caused some controversy, to say the least, so his son-in-law, Lt General Francis Moore, signed an affidavit (19M61/2638) stating that John Stephens was the  nephew of Robert Kingsmill and a legitimate recipient of the money. Without wishing to cast dispersion on his honour, the general was not an impartial witness.
John and Dorothy had six children. John Kingsmill, their eldest son died in tragic circumstances aged 17 described in the page about his mother. William Kingsmill was the second son and he inherited most of the money and became the rector of Chewton Mendip. Henry Kingsmill became the vicar. Charlotte Kingsmill married Lt General Moore and probably had what ever building stood on the site of the The Old Vicarage put in trust for her. Caroline Anne Kingsmill was born in 1806 and buried in Bath in 1853. She appeared to have remained unmarried. The sixth child has not yet been identified.
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