JEPHSON, William (c.1647-91), of Boarstall, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1679 - Jan. 1681
1689 - 7 June 1691

Family and Education

b. c.1647, 2nd s. of William Jephson† of Froyle, Hants by Alicia, da. of Sir John Dynham of Boarstall.  educ. M. Temple 1665, called 1673.  m. c.1674, Mary (d. 1717), da. and coh. of William Lewis† of The Van, Glam., Bletchington, Oxon. and Boarstall, sis. of Edward Lewis†, 1da.1

Offices Held

Private sec. to William of Orange Nov. 1688–July 1689; sec. to Treasury April 1689–d.

Freeman, Chipping Wycombe 1689.2


Jephson was the younger son of an Irish family which provided many members of the Irish parliament. He was intimately involved in the Revolution of 1688, joining William of Orange soon after his invasion and serving as his private secretary. Jephson’s longtime friend Hon. Thomas Wharton* had him returned for Chipping Wycombe in 1690, whereupon he was classed as a Whig by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). He was also named as a ‘manager of the King’s directions’ in Parliament, and as such he was ‘to be spoken to, for he influences Mr Wharton’. As secretary to the Treasury, he handled the secret service money and was very useful to the government in managing money bills through the Commons. In May 1690, he obtained a lease for 61 years on four and a half acres of land purchased for Chelsea Hospital, ‘being desirous to build himself a little house and plant a garden there’, and in June he received £600 in royal bounty. In July, in association with Wharton and Lords Marlborough (John Churchill†), Godolphin (Sidney†), Montagu (Ralph†) and Shrewsbury, he proposed to raise and equip a regiment, but the Queen turned down the offer.3

In the 1690–1 session Jephson was an obvious conduit of information from the crown to Parliament. Thus he presented the abstracts of public accounts to the House on 11 Oct. and performed the same task on the 24th with the navy accounts. On 3 Jan. 1691 he was named to draft an addition to the clause of appropriation on the bill doubling the excise on beer. In April 1691 he was classed by Robert Harley* as a supporter of the Country party. However, a career of great promise came to an end when he died on 7 June. One contemporary ascribed his death to a ruptured vein occasioned by vomiting after over-eating at his daughter’s wedding, an unlikely event as no daughter was mentioned as late as 1683 when Jephson made his will and his only daughter married after 1714. Godolphin, writing to the King early in July, lamented that

nothing of this kind [fresh taxes on trade] is likely to have a good effect unless it be well thought of and digested beforehand, and both the measures and persons agreed upon that must carry it on in the House of Commons; and upon this occasion, I am afraid that you will find Mr Jephson’s loss is irreparable.

In the autumn of 1691, the commissioners of accounts took the opportunity afforded by Jephson’s death to press for details of secret service payments made by him to MPs. Robert Squibb, a Treasury official who had been employed by Jephson in the actual distribution of secret service funds, was summoned to give evidence before the commissioners, but he refused to divulge any information, saying ‘the King was not desirous to have it further inquired into’. When the Commons debated the matter on 3 Dec. 1691, Wharton was quick to inform members that Jephson had assured him that only about four MPs had received funds and then only ‘to dispose of to some persons to make discoveries’. However, Squibb was eventually compelled by the Commons to produce Jephson’s accounts of secret service money and they were reported to the House on 9 Feb. 1694.4

Jephson’s widow remarried, successively Sir John Aubrey, 2nd Bt.*, Sir Charles Kemys, 3rd Bt.*, and William Aubrey, retaining Boarstall until her death in 1717.

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. Burke, LG (1937), 2649; Lipscomb, Bucks. i. 65, 75; iii. 643.
  • 2. L. J. Ashford, High Wycombe, 164.
  • 3. Cork Hist. and Arch. Soc. ser. 2, xii. 1–6; The Revolutions of 1688 ed. Beddard, 20, 32, 39, 76; A. Browning, Danby, iii. 179; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 620, 696; xvii. 574; Dalrymple, Mems. iii(2), p. 99.
  • 4. HMC 7th Rep. 199; Bodl. Carte 79, f. 360; 130, ff. 330–1; HMC Portland, iii. 467; CSP Dom. 1691–2, p. 353; H. Horwitz, Parl. and Pol. Wm. III, 62; S. B. Baxter, Treasury, 235–6; Luttrell Diary, 61.