Melbury House, Melbury Sampford, Dorchester DT2 0LF, Regno Unito
Stephen Fox-Strangways, 1st Earl of Ilchester PC (12 September 1704 – 26 September 1776) was a British peer and Member of Parliament.
Ilchester was the son of Sir Stephen Fox and his second wife Christiana Hope. Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, was his younger brother and Charles James Fox his nephew. He was elected to the House of Commons for Shaftesbury in 1726, a seat he held until 1741. The latter year he was raised to the peerage as Lord Ilchester, of Ilchester in the County of Somerset, Baron of Woodford Strangways in the County of Dorset. Six years later he was created Lord Ilchester and Stavordale, Baron of Redlynch, in the County of Somerset, and in 1756 he was even further honoured when he was made Earl of Ilchester. The peerages were created, in default of male issue of his own, with remainder to his younger brother Henry. In 1763 he was admitted to the Privy Council.
Stephen Fox was the lover of Lord Hervey for a period of ten years, from 1726 to 1736. There exist many passionate letters between the two. Hervey initially favoured Stephen's brother, Henry Fox, but when charmingly rebuffed paid infatuated court to Stephen. His relationship with Lord Hervey ended only when a marriage was arranged with thirteen-year-old Elizabeth Horner, daughter of Thomas Strangways Horner and Susanna Strangways, in 1735. In 1758, Lord Ilchester assumed the additional surname of Strangways. He died in September 1776, aged 72, and was succeeded by his son Henry Thomas Fox-Strangways.
Lord and Lady Ilchester's children were:
Stephen Fox appears as "Stephen Reynard", later Lord Ivell and Earl of Wessex, in the short story "The First Countess of Wessex" by Thomas Hardy, collected in A Group of Noble Dames.