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STEPHENS, JEREMIAH (1591–1665), coadjutor of Sir Henry Spelman [q. v.], was son of Walter Stephens, vicar of Bishop's Castle, Shropshire, where he was born, and baptised 17 Oct. 1591. He entered Brasenose College, Oxford, on 29 March 1609–10, and matriculated 19 June 1610; graduated B.A. 1 July 1612, proceeded M.A. 3 May 1615, and B.D. 11 Nov. 1628. In December 1615 he was ordained deacon, and on 26 May 1616 priest, being appointed about the same time chaplain of All Souls' College. On 11 Oct. 1624 he was made clerk of the market, Oxford, and 17 Dec. 1628 was licensed to preach. He was presented to the rectory of Quinton, Northamptonshire, on 25 Jan. 1621–2 by Charles I, and to that of Wootton in the same county on 13 July 1626, also by the king.

Stephens is best known as the literary coadjutor of Sir Henry Spelman, to whom he rendered very great assistance in the compilation of the first volume of his ‘Concilia, Decreta, Leges, Constitutiones in re Ecclesiarum orbis Britannici,’ which was published in 1639. Spelman and Stephens were seven years engaged in preparing this volume. In the preface Spelman acknowledges the help rendered to him by Stephens, ‘a man born for the public good, by whose assistance this my first volume comes out, and on whom the hope of the rest is founded.’ As a reward for the assistance he had given to Spelman, he was nominated by Laud to the prebend of Biggleswade in Lincoln Cathedral on 29 June 1639, and installed on 10 July following, vice Lambert Osbaldeston, who had been deprived; but Osbaldeston seems to have been collated a second time in 1641, so that Stephens could not have held this preferment for long. During the Commonwealth he was deprived of his livings by a parliamentary committee sitting at Northampton in 1644, and was ‘plundered, imprisoned, barbarously used, and silenced’ (Wood). On the accession of Charles II he was reinstated in his livings, and was made prebendary of Ilfracombe in the church of Sarum on 20 Aug. 1660, and again collated to the same prebend on 8 Oct. 1662. He died at Wootton on 9 Jan. 1664–5, and was buried in the chancel of Wootton church.

Besides the help given to Spelman in the ‘Councils,’ Stephens edited Spelman's ‘Apologia pro tractatu de non temerandis ecclesiis’ (1647) and ‘Tithes too hot to be touched,’ 3 parts, 1646, which subsequently appeared as ‘The Larger Treatise on Tithes’ (1647). He also published on his own account: 1. ‘B. Gregorii Magni, episcopi Romani, de Curâ Pastorali liber vere aureus, accurate emendatus, et restitutus e vet. MSS. cum Romanâ editione collatis,’ 1629. 2. ‘Notæ in D. Cyprian. de Unitate Ecclesiæ,’ 1632. 3. ‘Notæ in D. Cyprian. de Bono Patientiæ,’ 1633. 4. ‘An Apology for the Ancient Right and Power of the Bishops to sit and vote in Parliaments,’ 1661.

He wrote some polemical tracts, which were not published owing to the Restoration, including ‘A Comparison between the Belgic, Gallic, Bohemian, and Scotch with the English Covenant;’ ‘Account of the Principles and Practices of the Presbyterians;’ ‘The Sequestration of the Clergy, by Joh. Pym and Joh. White.’

Stephens also wrote two works, the publication of which was prevented by his death, ‘Treatise of the Laws of England,’ and ‘The Design of the Cormorants upon the Church Lands defeated in the Time of King Henry V, effected in the Days of King Henry VIII.’

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. iii. 670; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, pp. 45–6; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Clark's Register of the Univ. of Oxford, passim; Le Neve's Fasti, ii. 112, 656–7; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict. xxviii. 385; Hook's Eccl. Biogr. viii. 478. The notices in Chalmers and Hook are mostly taken from Wood.]

W. G. D. F.