History

George Stepney

History

George Stepney, diplomat, is buried in Westminster Abbey. He has a large monument of white and coloured marbles in the south choir aisle not far from his grave. This is attributed to the sculptor Grinling Gibbons. It shows a bust of George with his coat of arms. On either side is a winged cherub and above is a tented canopy. The Latin inscription can be translated:

"Here lies interred George Stepney, Esq., for his ready genius, knowledge of learning, sweetness of temper, experience of the world, acquaintance of great men, elegance of language, style and life, eminent stations he held, of Britain and Europe, much celebrated in his time, and to be ever celebrated to posterity. He conducted several embassies with that integrity, application and facility, that he ever discharged the trust reposed in him by those august princes William and Anne, and generally exceeded their expectation. After a length of honours, which he passed through in a short space of time, after a narrow life, but extensive fame, he calmly breathed out his soul to higher regions.

George Stepney, descended from the honourable family of the Stepneys of Prendergast in Pembrokeshire, was born at Westminster anno domini 1663, elected to the College of St Peter's Westminster 1676, and to Trinity in Cambridge 1682, made Commisoner of Trade 1697, died at Chelsea and attended by a great concourse of the nobility, was buried 1707.

George Stepney was Envoy to the Elector of Brandenburg 1692; the Emperor of Germany 1693; the Elector of Saxony 1694 and 1695; the Electors of Mainz, Trier, Cologne and the Palatinate, the Langrave of Hesse and the Congress of Frankfurt 1696 and 1697. A second time to the Elector of Brandenburg 1698, the King of Poland 1699, a second time to the Emperor of Germany 1701 and to the States of Holland 1706"

He was the son of George Stepney and his wife Mary (Whetstone), groom of the chamber to Charles II, and grandson of Sir Thomas Stepney, cupbearer to Charles I. He was educated at Westminster School and Cambridge university where he wrote verses and translated the classics. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and entered diplomatic service in 1687. Two sisters were buried in the Abbey  - Frances on 23 March 1719 and Dorothy on 6 November 1724, both unmarried. George also died unmarried on 15 September 1707.

A photo of the monument can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.