The Tragedy of Ron Steadman

As many of my readers are aware, I like to follow up on articles in the news about people named Stedman/Steadman/Steedman/etc. and tell their stories and publish their Stedman ancestry as part of my study. Recently, I added two medalists from the recent Tokyo Paralympics: William Stedman from Christchurch, New Zealand, who won two track and field medals, and Lauren Steadman from Peterborough, England, who won a gold medal in the Triathlon.

I have also written briefly about Ron Steadman who died from Covid-19 this past August in a way that made national news.

When I first mentioned the circumstances of his death on my Stedman Family Organization Facebook Group, I was not able to identify his father so I could document his Steadman ancestry. I just knew that he was born in Fall River, Massachusetts so I had a guess about his ancestry, but nothing about the details.

This past week his obituary was published by the Fall River newspaper and I discovered that his father was Edmond James Steadman (1931-1984). From his FindaGrave memorial, I was ale to learn that his father had been a decorated Korean War veteran. And when I probed deeper I was completely surprised.

It turns out that Ron is part of a Steadman family that immigrated to Fall River in 1895 from England. His grandfather was an only child so the family was small and I had missed it when documenting Massachusetts Stedmans.

OK, I said. This should not be a problem. I have been able to quickly connect 19th century Stedman immigrant families to their British roots fairly quickly. Not so this time!

Ron’s grandfather went by James E(dward) Steadman and was born by several record sources in 23 November 1883 in London or Hackney. (I must admit that I do not yet know when and where he died; the last record of him was his 1942 World War II draft registration.) Using the GRO Index, I was able to find an Edward James Steadman, birth registered in Q1 1883 whose mother’s maiden name was Badham.

James Steadman immigrated in September 1895 with father John and mother Maud and they show up in the 1900 Fall River census. James was 16; born November 1883; his father was born May 1859 and he and Maud had been married 12 years. Maud must not have been his mother! Maud Newman and John Steadman did in fact marry in Bethnal Green RD in 1887. (I have not found the marriage record for John and Maud.) They were all listed together in Willesden in the 1891 Census with John listed as age 41 (ie., born about 1850). But 9 years later, John said he was born in 1859. When he immigrated, he gave his age as 37 which suggested he was born in 1858. Something fishy…

So now I started looking for a Steadman – Badham marriage. I found the marriage of an Edward Henry John Steadman, age 28, and Elizabeth Scattergood Badham in November 1879 in Lambeth. His father was a deceased farmer named William. I also found where Elizabeth had died after childbirth to their second child in 1885.

I then went looking for Edward Henry John Steadman and found that, of course, I already had him in my records as a son of William Steadman (1821-1866) and wife Harriet Dolphin of Acton Burrell, Shropshire. In the 1851 census, Edward Henry John Steadman was only known as John, and John was baptized at Frodesley on 26 May 1850.

I have recently been trying to sort out various Shropshire Stedman lineages. William is likely part of what I call the Pontesbury Stedmans but that is still to be proven. (Yes, we need YDNA test!)

So even with immigrant John showing a range of ages, it was looking like he was in fact the Edward Henry John Steadman of Acton Burrell born in 1850. I then searched out John’s naturalization paperwork. The naturalization paperwork confirmed the passenger record as being correct. And it gave his name as John Steadman and his birth as 19 May 1862 in Acton Burrell, Shropshire, England. So John both just trimmed his legal name and 12 years off his age in the legal document he used to become a US citizen! But then, when he died in 1925, his death record gives his name as Edward J Steadman.

I think the evidence, some circumstantial, is clear that I have properly identified the Steadman ancestry of Ron Steadman. But still mysteries remain. If I have identified Elizabeth Badham correctly, she was base born and I have not found her baptism nor her in a Badham family in a census. John’s wife Maud is another mystery. She was supposedly born in Witchford, Cambridgeshire, in 1865, but there is no birth registration, nor baptism, for her that I can find. I can see someone I believe to be her in the 1871 census who is listed as 3 years older. I also see evidence of Newman relatives in Massachusetts so I suspect that the Steadmans and some Newmans may have immigrated in tandem.

I will post Ron’s ancestral tree on my website with my next update. I am sorry that he experienced such a tragic passing but without it, I likely would not have had an opportunity to document this family.

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