John Stephenson and wife Anne

May 29, 2010

In the course of our recent study of the Stephenson/Stevenson family in Lincolnshire, we have run across a fascinating Stephenson family group.  John Stevenson married Anne Clarke on 09 July 1688 in Hogsthorpe, Lincolnshire.  John and Anne had three children: Elizabeth (born 05 October 1690), John (born 18 February 1691), and Edward (born 08 July 1694).  They were apparently well-to-do for they had four servants — Elizabeth Kirkby, Unknown Balaam, Willm Hastrop, and Anne Harrison.

Born about 1663, John was a contemporary of whom we have come to call Henry I, born about 1666.  Anne, John’s wife, was born about 1667.  The ages of all three are derived from the ages they declared on their marriage records.  At this time, we do not have the birth or christening record of any of the three.

Anne Stevenson’s maiden name, Clarke, is the same as Susannah’s, wife of Henry I.  Were they sisters or close relatives?  We do not know yet, but we are hoping the information will surface as our study continues.

In 1692, the English Parliament levied a poll tax on each landowner to finance the war with France.  John Stevenson had to pay 6 shillings as his share, i.e. 1 shilling each for himself, Anne, the two children who were born at the time of the tax, and servants William Hastrop and Anne Harrison.  Although the other two servants are recorded by name, it does not state whether a tax was paid for them.

Speculation abounds about this family group, of whom we have learned so much.  It is highly probable that there is a family connection to our Stephensons but we have not nailed it down at this time.  Sandra and I have requested records from the Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City that may yield further information.  As we learn more, I will keep you informed.


The Stephensons of Horncastle and Hogsthorpe

May 22, 2010

After developing a data base of the Woulds in Lincolnshire, we decided to extend our project to the Stephensons.  This turned out to be such a formidable project that it was quickly amended.  It turns out that there are 5,000 Stephensons listed in the IGI in Lincolnshire alone between 1500 and 1850.  This number expands exponentially if one considers all of England.

Since we knew that the line of Stephensons that we are following settled in Horncastle and Hogsthorpe, we decided to limit our study to those two locations.  This yielded 41 family groups, enough to draw some conclusions and suggest new lines of inquiry.  From 1500 to the mid-1600’s, there were nine family groups living in Horncastle.  The first recorded Stephenson appears in Hogsthorpe in 1664 with the birth of Thomas to William Stephenson and Elizebeth.  More about William and Elizebeth Stephenson below.

For the next 100 years, Stephensons in our line, as well as other Stephenson family groups, continue to live in Hogsthorpe.  In the mid- to late-1700’s, however, they migrate back to Horncastle and the Stephenson population of Hogsthorpe declines rapidly.  By the early 1800’s, there were only two recorded family groups in Hogsthorpe.

William and Elizabeth Stephenson

It is widely believed among Stephenson researchers that William Stephenson and Elizabeth Woodcock fathered Thomas, b. 1664, and Henry, b. about 1666.  However, records show that William Stephenson and Elizabeth Woodcock married 23 Sep 1669 in Anderby, Lincolnshire, at least five years after the birth of Thomas.  While it is possible that this William and Elizabeth cohabited before the birth of their children, it is unlikely.  There is another marriage between a William Stephenson and Elizabeth Porter in 1666 in Wrangle, Lincolnshire, but this is still too late for children born in 1664 and 1666.  We will try to obtain wills of the two Williams to prove or disprove the parentage of Henry.


The Woulds in Kirkby on Bain

May 20, 2010

On my last post, I described the project that Sandra and I have been working on tracking the Woulds in England.  We have learned a lot about English records from 1550-1800 and the lack thereof.  The most common records are christening records, although they are far from complete.  Also, early records only listed the father of the infant.  We can find patterns of movement, but there are big gaps that make this frustrating.   Death records are rare except in the case of infants being christened at around the time of their death.  Families often had several children with the same name until they had one that lived.  We are always conscious of the large number of infant deaths during this period.  Marriage records are quite extensive but still incomplete.  It is obvious that many women died in childbirth.  These deaths are rarely recorded.  The husband often  took a second wife but often these marriages are not found in the records either.

Another problem with our research is that the Woulds tended to use the same names for their children over and over.  Most of the males were named John, William, Thomas, or Nathaniel.  The females were most often Mary, Ann, Elizabeth and Susanna.  There is a large probability that John’s wife will be Mary, making it difficult to follow any given couple. 

With this background, I will try to explore the Woulds of Kirkby on Bain.  The earliest Woulds we find in England were in London or Fingringhoe, Essex.  By the 1550s, families were found in Alford and Sibsey, both fairly near to Kirkby.  Another concentration was in Thornton Curtis, Lincs. The first record of Woulds in the immediate area of Kirkby was the marriage of William Would to Anas Bunyan in 1615 in Haltham Upon Bain, a few miles from Kirkby.  At least two generations grew up in Haltham.  There were concentrations of Woulds in many of the small villages surrounding Haltham and Kirkby, including Tattershall, Coningsby, Toynton St. Peter, Roughton, and Hameringham, but we haven’t connected them with our family.

Anyone who would like a copy of the database of Woulds in Lincolnshire can request one by sending a comment and giving your e-mail address.  The spreadsheet is in PDF format.

Ancestors of Elizabeth Would

In 1693, Edward Would married Ann Gramm in Scrivelsby, a few miles from Haltham.  We cannot determine where either of these people came from.  The following year they had a daughter, Sarah, in Scrivelsby.  In 1695 William Would was born in Kirkby, but no parents are shown on the christening.  In 1697, John Would, the son of Edward, was born in Kirkby.  We are quite sure that this is all one family.  We are seeking a will for Edward which could help confirm this belief.  Both William and John Would married in the 1720s and raised families in Kirkby.

We have a problem following John.  In 1726, John Would married Ann Dawson in Kirkby and had a son Edward in 1727.  From 1729 to 1747, John had 8 children with Jane listed as the mother.  John and Jane’s first child was Ann.  We can find no record of the death of Ann Dawson or of a second marriage for John.   When Edward, the child of John and Ann, dies in 1730, Jane is listed as the mother.  There are some possible answers to this dilemma, but they are speculative.  Ann Dawson’s mother’s name was Jane, and Ann also had a sister Jane.  It is possible that Ann and Jane are the same person.  It is also possible that John married Jane Dawson after her sister’s death.  We are trying to find wills for John and Edward which might help resolve the confusion, but this may be a mystery we can’t resolve.

John and Jane had a son, John, in 1734.  He married Susanna Panton and they are the parents of Elizabeth who married George Stephenson.  Click on the link below for an updated pedigree chart for Elizabeth. 

Eliz Wold Pedigree


The Would Family of Lincolnshire

May 16, 2010
As I have mentioned in previous posts, Sandra and I are planning on visiting Lincolnshire this summer.  We plan to visit Horncastle and Hogsthorpe where the Stephensons lived and see the cemeteries where the family is buried.  We will be visiting there with Pat Stephenson, my fourth cousin, and his wife Eve from Essex, England. 

View of the Lincolnshire Wolds.

We were happy that Pat and Eve spent a few days there last week and scouted out the area, but his report on the cemeteries was not encouraging.  The local graveyards are poorly maintained and the grave markers are mostly illegible.  They reported finding one marker with the Stephenson name but it was otherwise unreadable.  Pat and Eve did find some Would graves in Kirkby-Upon-Bain but were not sure whether these people were relatives.  Elizabeth Would, who married George Stephenson in 1797 was my 3rd great-grandmother.

In order to gather more information on the Woulds before we travel, we have been conducting some research.  Sandra started a project similar to what she had done in the past and it quickly got out of hand.  We ended up tracking all the Would/Wold/Woulds births and marriages on the IGI Index of England from 1568-1785.    This became an all day two-computer project, with me accessing the records and Sandra entering data into a spreadsheet.  We are now the proud owners of a monster Woulds data base.  In Lincolnshire alone, there were at least 75 family groups with children.  This does not count households without children.  The task now is to organize all this data and make sense of it.  This is the opposite of how we usually do genealogical research.  We usually begin with known family members and try to expand our lines.   While organizing these files is daunting, we are already finding things that we wouldn’t have seen in the normal way and are exciting about exploring further.  In the worst case, when we find Woulds buried in Kirby-Upon-Bain, we should be able to identify their families and how we connect to them.  In the next several posts, I will try to share our findings about this branch of the family.

It is interesting to note that about 90% of the Woulds in England settled in Lincolnshire.  The largest concentration was in and around Kirkby-Upon-Bain.  I have to believe that the name Would has something to do with the term Wold, meaning hills.  The Lincolnshire Wolds have been declared an Area Of Natural Beauty (AONB) and Horncastle bills itself as “The Gateway to the Lincolnshire Wolds.”  Some of the earliest Woulds settled in Alford, which is located within the Lincolnshire Wolds. Most of the rest of the family settled nearby to this region.


Christenings of Martha and Jane Richardson

May 8, 2010

It has come to light in the last few days that sisters Martha and Jane Richardson married brothers Henry and Joseph Stephenson.  Martha married Henry in 1723, and Jane married Joseph in 1726.  Interestingly, both Martha and Jane were christened as adults.  Martha in 1723 (the year she married) in Hogsthorpe, and Jane in 1725 (the year before she married) in Mumby cum Chapel.  There were two other Richardson sisters, Mary and Susannah, but we have found no record of their being christened either as infants or adults.

Was being formally christening a rite that was important in order to be a Stephenson?  We are left to speculate.


Pedigrees of George Stephenson and Elizabeth Wold (Would)

May 4, 2010

As promised, here are the the Pedigree Charts for George Stephenson and his wife Elizabeth Would.  I also have the information about many of the siblings in the ancestor trees, but space does not allow me to show them in this format.  If you would like to have the entire chart, send me a comment on this blog giving your e-mail address, and I will send you a complete Register Report that includes facts and notes. 

To make these two charts more legible, right click on the image and save as a file on your own computer.  You can then enlarge the image and print the page.

I want to call your attention to William and Elizabeth Stephenson and Martha Richardson, all on George Stephenson’s chart.  My records have previously stopped with Henry, the husband of Susanna Clark.  After reviewing the IGI records I am fairly confident that Henry’s parents were William and Elizabeth.  They had a son Thomas in 1664 and Henry was born in 1666.  These are the only Stephenson births recorded in Hogsthorpe in this time frame in the IGI records.

Another interesting finding is that Martha Richardson who married Henry Stephenson in Hogsthorpe in 1723 was christened as an adult after her marriage.  Previously, my records had shown that Henry and Martha had had a child Martha christened in 1723, but I now believe that to be incorrect.  Martha’s sister, Jane Richardson was also christened as an adult in 1725.


Searching for Stephensons in Lincolnshire using the IGI Index

May 3, 2010

In the last few days, Sandra and I have added a significant number of people, dates, and events to my Stephenson family tree using IGI records.  We have also found some new tools that make these records much more accessible.  These records are compiled by the Latter Day Saints and can be found at www.familysearch.org.  Historically, English parishes were required to keep records on baptisms or christenings, marriages, and deaths.  These records were compiled annually, forwarded to the Bishop and formed the Bishops Index.  The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is compiled from the Bishops Index.  Thus, anything found in the IGI is supported by official records. 

Family Search also houses a huge amount of genealogical data submitted by individuals, but, like trees on www.Ancestry.com, these are not always supported by verifiable sources.  I had used the familysearch site in the past but found it cumbersome and not very user-friendly.  Records for an individual were not linked, so you could find a marriage record in one place, but christening records would be elsewhere and information on parents still somewhere else. 

In the past week we have found two new tools that make the index much easier to use and has helped us make many new discoveries.  The Latter Day Saints are offering a pilot of a new search engine they will offer at www.familysearch.org.  To access it, go to the home page, select Search Records and a drop down menu will appear.  Select the Record Search Pilot option.

The pilot search tool allows ease of data entry, filtering of data, and refining search criteria.  I found it very user friendly.  It will apparently allow views of the actual documents in the future.

A second tool that has been tremendously helpful is the England IGI Batch Numbers File.  The link for England is shown here http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~hughwallis/IGIBatchNumbers/CountryEngland.htm#PageTitle.  The home page for the full site is http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~hughwallis/IGIBatchNumbers.htm#PageTitle.

The Bishop’s Records forming the IGI were compiled in batches.  This tool lets you select the English county and then the local area to search.  Lincolnshire records of birth/christenings and marriages have been indexed and are readily available.  This search tool allowed us to see all IGI records for Hogsthorpe, Lincolnshire and search for Stephensons.    This provided lots of information and helped us find parents and siblings for family members living in the same locale. 

The batch records search works best for small areas, such as the towns in Lincolnshire, England.  Large cities, Liverpool being an example, require knowing the exact church parish. 

For some unknown (to me) reason, none of the three search methods — familysearch, the pilot search, and the batch search — seem to have all the records.  I find that I sometimes have to use all three methods, but usually end up identifying a new nugget of information.  It is quite exciting when that nugget is uncovered.

I experimented using the batch record search for the U.S. and Ireland.  Sandra’s family has roots in County Down, Northern Ireland and she did not find the these records helpful.  Searching the U.S. was particularly difficult, but more practice may improve my opinion.

Using the IGI files, we have expanded our family tree adding Stephensons, Richardsons, Woulds, and Swins.  I will share these findings in future blogs.  If you have a particular interest in these family lines, send me a comment on this blog and I will send you the information I have.  In the near future I will upload family files to Ancestry.com and, at your request, I can set you up as a guest on those files.


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