William Stephens was born in Worcester, probably on 27 March 1647. He died in London on 30 January 1718. Educated at St Edmund Hall, Oxford (BA, 1668; MA, 1671), he was incorporated at Cambridge in 1671 and received the BD there in 1678. An outspoken Whig divine, when once speaking before Parliament, he advocated discontinuing the public observance of the anniversary of the execution of Charles I, and insisted on the doctrine that government is founded on consent of the governed (thereby becoming very unpopular with the Tories). Pierre Coste supplemented the second edition of his translation of Locke's Reasonableness of Christianity with a translation of A Lady's Religion (a very popular work), which he attributed to ‘a divine of the Church of England’ named Stephens, presumably this one. Stephens, besides numerous sermons, is known for his authorship of a historical study, An Account of the Growth of Deism in England (1696), and for his sympathy with the deists generally.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.