Nathaniel Stephens was born in Wiltshire and died in Stoke Golding, Leicestershire in February 1678. He entered Magdalen Hall, Oxford in 1623, graduating BA (1626) and MA (1628). He became curate at Ferny Drayton in Leicestershire, was driven out in 1642, but returned in 1645 when the forces of Parliament took control of the county. He was a popular preacher, and used to discuss religious topics with many of the sectaries of the period, including most famously George Fox. Their relations, initially cordial, soon cooled: Stephens eventually dismissed Fox as mad, while Fox came to regard Stephens as his ‘great persecutor’. Although Stephens sided with the Puritans in religion and with Parliament in politics, he was much more conservative in his views than many of his contemporaries. From 1659 until 1662 he held the rectory at Drayton, until forced out by the Uniformity Act. He then removed to Stoke Golding, only a few miles away, where he continued to preach privately until disabled by age and lameness.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.