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.