Richard Stephens was the vicar of St. Peter’s from 1824 until 1871.
Richard was born on the 12th March and baptised on the 3rd July 1785 at St. Martin’s, Leicester.
Richard was one of the two sons and five daughters of Richard Stephens (1753 – 1810, “Hosier”) and Alice Lettice (1753 – 1809) who were married on the 20th July 1774 at St. Martin’s, Leicester.
Alice was one of the three daughters of the Rev. John Lettice D.D. (an eminent scholar and formerly vicar of Peasmarsh in Sussex) who had taken up residence and taught in Leicester.
Richard Stephens entered Rugby School aged 12 in 1797, and was a student at Brasenose College, Oxford, from October 1802, graduating with a B.A. in 1806 and an M.A. in 1809. He acted as an Examiner at Rugby School in 1811, 1814 and 1816, and was Assistant Master in 1812.
He was awarded a B.D. (“Bachelor of Divinity”) in 1816, and was appointed as “Derbie Fellow” and Lecturer of Brasenose College from 1810 – 1819, holding the position of Proctor of the College in 1815. He was also a founder-member (and subsequent President) of the “Brasen Nose Chess Club” in 1810.
Richard was appointed as vicar of St. Peter’s in 1824, and continued to serve the parishes of Belgrave and Birstall until his death in 1871.
Richard was a friend of John Mansfield MP, of Birstall Hall, Leicester. Together, they made a significant contribution to the social welfare of the people of Birstall. When John Mansfield was appointed High Sherriff of Leicester in 1833, he appointed Richard as his Chaplain.
Richard Stephens was held in high regard by his parishioners, which is reflected in the fact that he was buried in front of the altar in St. Peter’s. A commemorative plaque was inset into the floor after the floor was relaid in the early 20th century.
Richard Stephens is included as a figure in the stained-glass east window of St. Peter’s.
Richard Stephens married Emilie Anne de Sivrac of La Garonne, Var, France, on the 13th September 1819 in a ceremony at St. Clement Dane’s, London.
The record states that “they allegedly were married in France on the 7th January 1819”. According to the memoirs of their son Prescot William, this was at the British Embassy in Paris.
Richard and Emilie Anne had twelve children – seven daughters and five sons. Emily (1821 – 1915) and Eliza (b1823) were both born in Northamptonshire. Richard (b1824), Rosine Lettice (b1826), John Lettice (1828 – 1828, aged two weeks), Mary Louisa (b1829), Octavia Lettice (b1830), John Otter (1832-1925), Henry Euseby (b1835), Prescot William (1835 – 1879), Alicia (b1839) and Agnes Tyringham (b1844) were all were born in Belgrave.
Emily Stephens married George Vere Lucas, son of the Rev. Richard Lucas, of Pickworth, Rutland, on the 11th July 1842. She became Mrs. Braithwaite of “The Manor, Edith Weston, Rutland” after George Vere assumed the name of Braithwaite “under the will of Miss Braithwaite of Stock Park, Ulverston”.
In the 1851 census Richard and Emilie Ann are living at “Vicarage House, Vicarage Lane Belgrave” with: Alicia, Agnes Tyringham and a “House Maid, Cook, Groom and Outdoor Servant”.
Mary Louisa married Thomas Henry Pares (“of Ulverston Cottage, Leicestershire”) in a ceremony conducted by her father on the 7th January 1852 at St. Peter’s
Octavia Lettice was married to Charles Edward Stainforth (“Widower”) of Mountsorrel, Leicestershire, by her father on the 11th July 1854 at St. Peter’s.
Charles Edward, the son of Lt. Colonel John Stainforth late of the 57th Regiment, was born in York in 1828 and was a former Lt. in the 7th Royal Fusiliers. He had previously been married to Frances Bagley in 1848. Frances may have died in 1850 at Winchester, Hampshire.
Charles Edward Stainforth died in 1855.
Octavia Lettice then married John Edmund Harvey (b1827, of Jersey, Channel Islands) on Christmas Day 1858 in Jersey.
John Edmund Julius Harvey, the son of Roger Kerrison Harvey (J.P. and twice mayor of Norwich), was born in 1827 in Rome, Italy. Referred to as “Captain Harvey” in Richard Stephen’s Will, John Harvey rose to the rank of Colonel in the “41st Regiment of Springfield, Taplow, Bucks and Thorpe, Norfolk” after an extensive military career.
He was also “Staff Officer of Pensioners” at Great Yarmouth.
In the 1861 census Richard and Emilie Ann are living with Eliza Monckton and her son Richard, John Otter (Curate of St. Peter’s), Alicia, Alice Green (b1784, “Widow”, the sister of Richard Stephens) and Emily G. Hellicar (b1874, Bristol, “Grandniece”) plus four servants.
Alicia married Richard Worsley Worswick on the 31st January 1866 at Marylebone, Middlesex.
Agnes Tyringham Stephens was married to William Hew Dunn of Kintbury, Berkshire on the 8th December 1868 at St. Peter’s by her father.
William Hew was the son of Major-General William Dunn, Royal artillery.
John Edmund Julius Harvey died in 1869.
In the 1871 census Richard and Emilie Ann are living at “The Vicarage,” with Eliza Monckton and Henry Euseby, plus four servants
Richard Stephens was buried on the 2nd June 1871. One of his last official duties was to bless the new tenor church bell from his bedroom window.
In Richard’s Will, one of his bequests to Anne Emilie was “all my spirituous liquors, twelve dozen of sherry, six dozen of claret and twelve dozen of port”. He also bequeathed to her “all the articles of silver and plated goods which from time to time have been given to her as presents”.
John Otter Stephens M.A. followed his father into the Clergy after graduating from Brasenose College. He returned to Belgrave to work with his father as Curate at St. Peter’s.