One of the drivers of my Stedman study has always been when visitors to one of my web sites follow up and ask me questions. I always write back as soon as I can with an answer and usually some follow-up questions to encourage a dialog. And then I use it as an opportunity to enhance an existing Stedman family or add a new Stedman family line. As my family file is now worldwide, I have reasonable coverage in US, Canada, UK and Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand where virtually all of my inquiries come from.
As some of my existing study was documented over 15 years ago, my inquiries enable me to freshen my work with the addition of new records which leads to better proof and more exact details in my genealogies.
I want to share some details of a recent inquiry that has turned out to be quite vexing.
A woman “M” wrote me recently asking about the Word War 2 service of her grandfather Gordon Stedman (1922-1995) whom she found on my website and other information I might have on his ancestors. I wrote back that I did not have any information on Gordon’s World War 2 service as few records have been released but that I would look for them and get back to her.
However, looking at Gordon’s family, I began to recognize it as a family from Massachusetts that I had been introduced to over 20 years before by someone (I forget who…) who would have been a relative of M. They sent me an actual postal letter with a lot of details of their family. The key detail was that their ancestor Alfred G Stedman and his sister Ann came to America in the late 19th century from London. So… not a colonial Stedman family. They also mentioned that they had been in Nova Scotia.
At the time, I did not have access to many English records so my initial focus was trying to document the family in America with an un-sourced sketch of the family in England. From time to time, I came across records to fill in the story but even after I started to learn how to use English records, I could not pinpoint the English side of the family with records that I believed.
M’s inquiry became the motivation to try again.
The above 1900 census record for Alfred G Steadman and his family is the best starting point for trying to understand this family. This record tells us that Alfred was born in England about February 1859 and was married about 1881 and he and his wife has 7 children and they all were living and born in Massachusetts. Alfred came to the US in 1881 and was naturalized. His wife Sarah L(ouise) was born about December 1861 in England but “came to US” in 1871. (Not True!)
I found a death record for Alfred in Strafford, New Hampshire in 1918. The death record identifies his parents as Alfred Stedman and Sarah West, both born in England. Alfred G Steadman died 31 May 1918 at age 62 years, 7 months, 7 days. It reported he was born in London on 7 July 1856. Of course, that age at death would mean he was born about 24 October 1855. And neither of these dates is close to the February 1859 from the census. I have not found Alfred in the 1910 census (yet?), but Sarah is living with their younger children in Strafford. She died in 1942.
I mentioned that Alfred had a sister Ann, born about 1865 who also came to Boston. I found a record of her immigration in 1893 to Boston and in the immigration record, it states that she was coming to be with her brother Alfred and that was provable to be Alfred George Stedman. She died in January 1920, likely before being enumerated in 1920 census. She was buried in same plot in Oak Grove Cemetery in Medford as her brother and other family members. Her death record gives the names of her parents as Alfred Stedman and Sarah West.
I got a hint on Ancestry for Ann in the 1891 census in England. A quick check could not find that Annie in subsequent census so she looked like a good match for Alfred’s sister until I worked out that Annie could not be Alfred’s Annie. Working out that family was an adventure in itself that I will share later.
Finding Sarah Louise …
My first attempt to find Sarah Louise was to find her marriage record to Alfred and determine where she was born. I finally found their marriage at the Nova Scotia vital records web site. I must admit, I found it accidentally while recording all of the Stedman/etc. marriages recorded there. Subsequently, I think some of the subscription sites have picked it up. From this site, I learned that she was Sarah Louise Ingle. Here is my transcription of the marriage record:
The marriage of Alfred G. Steadman and Louisa Ingle was registered at Halifax County, Book 1817, page 81, number 91 (1881). They were married 10 March 1881 in Halifax by License in a Church of England ceremony by the Rev. Geo. O. Troop. David Lindsay and Theresa Ingle were witnesses.
Alfred, age 22, Bachelor, was a Waiter. He was born in London, GB and was living in Halifax. His parents were Alfred T., a Clerk, and Sarah Steadman.
Louisa, age 19, was a Spinster. She was born and was living in Halifax. Her parents were Geo, a Coachman, and Elizth Ingle.
What I gleaned from this important records: (a) Alfred was born in London but had immigrated to Canada and his parents were Alfred T Steadman and wife Sarah which still means that his mother could have been a Sarah West; (b) Louisa was born in Halifax and her parents were George and Elizabeth Ingle; (c) they were married prior to the 1881 census so that they could have left before the census was published.
Let us examine Sarah Louisa and her parents. The 1900 census clearly says she was born in England, not Canada, and says she came to US in 1871. I now know she came to Canada in 1871 and to US in 1881 with her husband. Getting to Canada, however, was by a circuitous route.
It can be learned from immigration reports that her mother Elizabeth Ingle and her grandson Alfred Steadman Jr. traveled from Canada to US in 1884. Elizabeth Ingle died in Boston in February 1920 and her death record identifies her as a widow of George Ingle and her parents as Gideon Thomas and Mercy Smith, both born in Nova Scotia. She and her father were born in town of Sambro, outside Halifax.
This is getting curiouser but an 1871 Welsh census record helped explain the mystery. George and Elizabeth and 5 children were enumerated in Berriew, Montgomeryshire, Wales. George was born about 1821 in Moulton, Suffolk, and Elizabeth in Nova Scotia about 1822. The children were all born in Berriew between 1862 and 1870 and the oldest was born about 1862. The GRO Birth Index confirms this is the right family as Sarah’s birth was registered in Q1 1862 in Montgomery RD and her mother’s maiden name was Thomas.
My next step was to look for George and Elizabeth’s marriage. I still have not found it, but I know now about when and where it took place.
I did this by looking at George’s history. George was born and baptized in Moulton. About age 17 he enlisted in the Army and served in Army for over 20 years taking posts in North America, South Africa and East Indies. His earliest child was born in the late 1840s in Canada. My assumption now is that he met and married Elizabeth while posted in Canada, and then she followed him as he was posted from place to place. After retiring, he went to Wales. with his youngest family. Then it get curious. Sometime after 1871 census Elizabeth and her youngest children left Wales and went to Halifax where we find her with some children in the 1881 Canada census. While George in 1881 was in Woolwich, Kent with a son who was born in Cape Town and died in 1890 in Newmarket. It would seem that about 1871, he and his wife separated and she went “home” to Nova Scotia while he stayed in England.
Elizabeth probably left Halifax after parents died and lived near Boston to be near her children. I have not followed the travels of her other children but I suspect some other daughters also went to Boston.
Back to Alfred…
Ok, we “know” Alfred George Steadman’s approximate birth date and mother’s maiden name of West and place of birth in or around London. So, logically, the next step is to look in the GRO birth index. Here are the births registered that might fit:
Steadman, Alfred George; Q2 1858; Bethnal Green; Matthews
Steadman, Alfred William; Q2 1860; Guildford; (single mother)
Steadman, George; Q2 1857; Clifton; West (Clifton is near Bristol)
Steadman, Alfred; Q3 1852; St Olave Southwark; Beavan
Steadman, Alfred; Q1 1855; Croydon; Gambling
Steadman, Alfred; Q1 1861; Saffron Walden; Jonston
Steadman, Alfred John; Q2 1863; Poplar; Anson
Stedman, Alfred; Q1 1857; Ticehurst; Hollands
Stedman, Alfred William; Q3 1857; Chertsey; Tester
Stedman, Alfred; Q2 1855; Cuckfield; Baker
Stedman, Alfred; Q1 1862; Horsham; Young
Stedman, Alfred; Q1 1863; London City; Mills
Stedman, Alfred; Q4 1865; Newington; Pewell
Stedman, Alfred Christoffer; Q3 1864; Mile End Old Town; Christoffer
Stedman, Alfred Plummer; Q2 1862; Camberwell; Newland
Stedman, Alfred Thomas; Q2 1862; Dover; Newing
Stedman, Alfred William; Q3 1863; Bosmere and Claydon; Mudd
Stedman, Fred; Q2 1865; Guildford; Tester
Studman, Alfred; Q2 1860; Kensington; Martin
Studman, Alfred; Q2 1862; Hitchin; Grant
I have not researched each of these Alfred Stedman/etc. Preliminary research does not suggest that any of these are “my” Alfred. I can find no Ann Stedman/etc. born in the time period around 1865 with a mother with a surname of West; further, none have a surname matching any of the above Alfreds.
Maybe the surname was mis-transcribed? I searched on FreeBMD, all of the Alfred George and George Alfred men whose birth was registered from 1855-1859; none of the obvious mis-transciptions were found. I checked FreeBMD if it had any further Alfreds than I found in GRO index. Nope.
We had one Alfred George Steadman born in approximately the right time with a mother with maiden name Matthews. The is no Ann* Stedman/etc. with mother maiden name Matthews.
The only possible Stedman/etc – Matthews marriage was an 1852 Thomas Stedman and Mary Ann Matthews on in Bethnal Green. The only Alfred Stedman/etc. – Sarah marriage was 1852 St Olave Southwark marriage between Alfred and Sarah Beavan.
I am continuing to pursue other searches using Ancestry and FindMyPast. I think Alfred is a real Stedman of some spelling, but it is obvious that I am missing something. The fact that I have two siblings who both quote the same parents suggests that Alfred might have died young and Sarah remarried a West and also used another given name; however FreeBMD does not indicate any such marriage having been registered.
At this point, I am looking for suggestions of further paths to research.