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Henry Frederick Stephenson
Admiral Henry Frederick Stephenson in 1896
Born (1842-06-07)7 June 1842
Died 16 December 1919(1919-12-16) (aged 77)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1855–1904
Rank Admiral
Battles/wars Crimean War
Second Opium War
Indian Rebellion of 1857
Fenian raids
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (military)
Companion of the Order of the Bath (civil)
Companion of the Order of the Bath (military)
Mentioned in Despatches (3)
Other work Black Rod

Admiral Sir Henry Frederick Stephenson GCVO, KCB (7 June 1842 – 16 December 1919) was a Royal Navy officer, courtier, and Arctic explorer.

Early life and career[]

Stephenson was the son of Henry Frederick Stephenson MP (20 September 1790 – 30 July 1858)[1][2] and Lady Mary Keppel.[1] His eldest brother, Sir Augustus Keppel Stephenson, was a Treasury Solicitor, and the second person to hold the office of Director of Public Prosecutions in England and Wales.[3]

On 18 December 1855 Stephenson joined the Royal Navy, becoming a Naval Cadet in HMS St Jean d'Acre, commanded by his uncle Henry Keppel, and serving in the Black Sea during the Crimean War. From September 1856 to April 1857 Stephenson served under Keppel as a cadet in HMS Raleigh, serving in the East Indies and China during the Second Anglo-Chinese War, until his ship wrecked near Macau when it struck an uncharted rock. All the crew were saved.[4] In June 1857 he served as a Midshipman in HMS Pearl, serving with Pearl's Naval Brigade during the Indian Mutiny of 1857,[4] during which he was Mentioned in Despatches three times.[5][6][7] In June 1861 he was promoted lieutenant in HMS Emerald, serving in the Channel Squadron.

On 30 March 1866 Stephenson was the lieutenant-in-command of HMS Heron, serving in North America and the West Indies, and becoming the commanding officer of a gun-boat on the Canadian lakes during the Fenian raids of 1866. From 18 January 1867 to 26 April 1868 he served as a lieutenant in HMS Rodney, commanded by Algernon C. F. Heneage, the flagship of Vice-Admiral Henry Keppel, serving in China. Following the death of Commander John T. Swann, Keppel promoted Stephenson to commander on 26 April 1868; the promotion was confirmed by the Admiralty on 7 July 1868.[8] From September 1868 to August 1871 he served in HMS Rattler and HMS Iron Duke, serving in the Far East, and later in HMS Caledonia in the Mediterranean[4] During this period he also served in the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert.[9] Promoted to captain on 6 January 1875, from 15 April 1875 he commanded HMS Discovery for the British Arctic Expedition of 1875–6, led by George Strong Nares in HMS Alert,[10] as a result he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) (in the Civil Division) on 9 December 1876.[11] He was appointed Equerry-in-waiting to the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII of the United Kingdom) on 5 July 1878[12] he held this post from time to time until 4 April 1893, when he was appointed an Extra Equerry.[13][14] On 15 September 1880 he became captain of HMS Carysfort.[4] He participated in the recapture of Ismaïlia,[15] and was awarded the 3rd Class Order of Osmanieh by the Khedive of Egypt in 1883.[16] He was appointed Aide-de-camp to the Queen on 1 January 1888.[17] He was additionally appointed CB in the military division on 23 May 1889.[18]

Later career[]


Vice Admiral Sir Henry Stephenson (second from left) Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Squadron with Staff on board HMS Majestic 1896

On 4 August 1890 Stephenson was promoted rear admiral,[19] serving as Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Station from 4 May 1893 to 19 June 1896.[20] He was promoted vice admiral on 10 October 1896,[21] serving from 7 June 1897 to 20 December 1898 as Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Squadron. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) on 22 June 1897 during the celebrations of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee,[22] he flew his flag from HMS Majestic during the Spithead Naval Review marking the Jubilee on 26 June 1897.[23] On the accession of Edward the VII, he became an Extra Naval Equerry,[24] he was promoted admiral on 7 December 1901,[25] and from 28 March 1902 to 1904 he was the First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp to King Edward VII.[26][27] He retired on 16 September 1904 with the rank of admiral.[28]

Stephenson was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) on 9 November 1902.[29] On 24 July 1904 Stephenson was appointed Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.[30][31] In this capacity he served at a number of important state occasions, such as the State Opening of Parliament, the Coronation of George V,[32] the investiture of the then Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII of the United Kingdom) as a Knight of the Garter in 1911.[33] He was appointed an Extra Equerry to George V of the United Kingdom on 10 June 1910.[34]


He married the Hon. Charlotte Elizabeth Eleanor Fraser on 5 December 1903. She died in 1923.

Further reading[]

  • John Stephenson (ed.), A Royal Correspondence: Letters of King Edward VII and King George V to Admiral Sir Henry F. Stephenson (1938)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fisher, D. R. (2009). The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832 Cambridge: Cambridge Press [1]
  2. Entry on
  3. The history of the Crown Prosecution Service : The CPS at
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Partial transcript of Stephenson's service record, with some additional biographical information
  5. "No. 22130". 23 April 1858. 
  6. "No. 22142". 21 May 1858. 
  7. "No. 22154". 18 June 1858. 
  8. "No. 23399". 10 July 1868. 
  9. RN Officers' service records—Image details—Stephenson, Henry Frederick, RN Officers' service records—Image details—Stephenson, Henry Frederick, DocumentsOnline, The National Archives (fee usually required to view pdf of full original service record). Retrieved on 8 December 2008.
  10. Stephenson in the Archives Hub
  11. "No. 24393". 12 December 1876. 
  12. "No. 24602". 5 July 1878. 
  13. "No. 24993". 5 July 1881. 
  14. "No. 26388". 4 April 1893. 
  15. "No. 25145". 8 September 1882. 
  16. "No. 25189". 16 January 1883. 
  17. "No. 25774". 6 January 1888. 
  18. "No. 25939". 25 May 1889. 
  19. "No. 26076". 5 August 1890. 
  20. Steaming on schedule time—Test of the Royal Arthur, new British flagship in the Pacific, Stephenson in The New York Times 12 April 1893
  21. "No. 26787". 20 October 1896. 
  22. "No. 26947". 14 March 1898. 
  23. "No. 26947". 14 March 1898. 
  24. "No. 27289". 26 February 1901. 
  25. "No. 27387". 13 December 1901. 
  26. "No. 27539". 31 March 1903. 
  27. "No. 27734". 11 November 1904. 
  28. "No. 27715". 20 September 1904. 
  29. "No. 27493". 7 November 1902. 
  30. "No. 27706". 23 June 1911. 
  31. "No. 28385". 17 June 1910. 
  32. "No. 28535". 26 September 1911. 
  33. "No. 28507". 19 August 1904. 
  34. "No. 28383". 10 June 1910. 

External links[]

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Charles Hotham
Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station
Succeeded by
Henry Palliser
Preceded by
Lord Walter Kerr
Commander-in-Chief, Channel Fleet
Succeeded by
Sir Harry Rawson
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Edward Seymour
First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp
Succeeded by
Sir Jackie Fisher
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Michael Biddulph
Black Rod
Succeeded by
Sir William Pulteney

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