Partner John Hervey, 2nd Baron Hervey
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. John Hervey, 2nd Baron Hervey was attracted to Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland before his affair with Henry's older brother, Stephen Fox.
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 loved his friends and was happy to celebrate that love in letters that are steamy and suggestive. "You have left some such remembrances behind you," he wrote to Fox, "that I assure you... you are not in the least Danger of being forgotten. The favours I have received at Your Honour's Hands are of such a nature that tho' the impression might wear out of my Mind, yet they are written in such lasting characters upon every Limb, that 'tis impossible for me to look on a Leg or an Arm without having my Memory refresh'd." Or: "I have often thought, if any very idle Body had Curiosity enough to intercept & examine my Letters, they would certainly conclude they came from a Mistress than a Friend." And: "I love you & love you more than I thought I could love any thing."
Lord Hervey and His Friends, William Hogarth, Date: c.1738 - c.1739. Stephen Fox and his brother Edward flank John Hervey, along with their friends Thomas Winnington, M.P. and Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough, a political crony. The parson, Dr. Middleton, who had been seeking favors from Hervey for some time, looks over the prospect, but in doing so, he overlooks the affectation around him.
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.
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