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Postby SDV » Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:19 pm

William STEWARD(T) was my 4x GGF. He figures in a number of family trees on Ancestry, most of which I think are plain wrong, compounded by people copying others without checking or relying on BMD indices without obtaining the certificates. There are three important phases in most lives: birth, marriage and death. I think most of the perceived wisdom on the Ancestry family trees relating to these events is to say the least dubious.

Birth - the Ancestry wisdom seems to be that William was born in 1771 in Great Burstead, Essex. Some trees specify that he was actually born on 9 Feb 1771, though I can't find any evidence for this statement. Most trees claim that he was baptised at St Mary Magdalen in Great Burstead on 28 Jul 1771. His parents were William and Martha. Although there is doubt about the spelling of his father's surname, there seems little debate about him being STEWARD/STEWART/STEAURT/STUART. His mother, however, is a whole different story, according to some trees she was a REDFEARN, whilst on others she is a LAVER. I am not even certain that this is the same William who grows up to be my 4x GGF.

Marriage - In any case, the man I believe to be my 4x GGF marries Elizabeth CONN (a widow née EDE) at Hornchurch on 05 Feb 1810. They have at least 5 children and seem to have settled in Hornchurch, at least that's where their children who were born between 1810 and 1821 were baptised. I am confident that this William STEWARD is my 4x GGF.

Death - Now this is highly contentious. Most trees on Ancestry have William dying in 1837, some specifying 28 May 1837 in Witham. And most trees have him being buried on 02 Jul 1837 in Great Burstead. I see little evidence that this is the same William that married Elizabeth CONN/EDE. Given that the couple seem to have lived in Hornchurch, why would William be buried in Great Burstead? Elizabeth herself was still in Hornchurch in 1851. And although I can't find her in 1861, she seems to have died in Hornchurch in 1867, where she was buried. I have the death certificate for one William STEWARD, aged 74, who died in Kelvedon, Witham on 16 Sep 1837 corresponding to the reference quoted in most trees on Ancestry (Q3 1837 Witham 12 198). This is clearly NOT the William STEWARD buried in Great Burstead on 02 Jul 1837!

Summary - The only facts I am certain of are: (i) the William STEWARD who married Elizabeth CONN (née EDE) was my 4x GGF, (ii) that William and Elizabeth lived in Hornchurch and raised their children there, together with the children from her first marriage, (iii) William was still alive in 1821 when his son James was born, (iv) Elizabeth was living in Hornchurch in 1851, though I have no idea where she was in 1841 and 1861, and (v) Elizabeth died aged 88/89 in Hornchurch in 1867. I have no real evidence for:

(i) the birth of William STEWARD - was he really born in Great Burstead in 1771 and if so who was his mother? Martha WHO?

(ii) when and where did the William STEWARD who married Elizabeth CONN (née EDE) die? Certainly after 1821. Where is the evidence for the oft quoted 1837? Was he still alive in 1841? He was certainly dead by 1851, as Elizabeth is listed as a widow.

(iii) where was Elizabeth in 1841 and 1861?

I know this is asking a lot, but I need to sort through this confusion to see what is real. The trees on Ancestry are clearly unreliable, with too many people relying on the research of others and treating it as gospel. Any help in clarifying this mess would be gratefully received.
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Re: William STEWARD

Postby ianbee » Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:45 pm

If your lady was the one born in Sussex in 1851, could her name be wrong in 1861?
piece 1072 folio 20 page 33
Cage Lane, Hornchurch
Esther Halls Head Widow 47
Maria Halls Daur Un 15
Mary Ann Steward Lodger Widow 83 House Servant, born Sussex Plumefield
Charles Conn Lodger Widower 60 Ag Lab Essex Hornchurch
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Re: William STEWARD

Postby ColinB » Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:29 pm

If your William Steward was born in Great Burstead then he may well have wished to be buried there , alongside family members. ( William and Martha Steward b1741/d1830 &b1740/d1825 look likely candidates for the parents ). As this William was buried the day after Registration commenced , and presumably died before 1st July 1837 , it wouldn't be surprising if there was no registration of the event. Great Burstead isn't that far from Hornchurch so I wouldn't be too quick to rule it out as William's birthplace.
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Re: William STEWARD

Postby SDV » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:34 pm

ianbee - I suppose it could be Elizabeth under a different name. The age at 83 is more or less correct, given that she was born in 1778. More interestingly, the Charles CONN aged 60 also lodging at this address is Elizabeth Steward's first son by her previous marriage, who was born in Hornchurch in 1800 and died there in 1870. However, Elizabeth was not born in Plumefield, but in Cuckfield. Although anything is possible, it is difficult to see Plumefield as a mistranscription of Cuckfield. I have no idea who the HALLS were.

ColinB - again anything is possible and I'm not ruling it out, but the family were settled in Hornchurch and that is where is wife and his child who died during infancy are buried.
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Re: William STEWARD

Postby junkers » Sat Sep 09, 2017 5:47 pm

Personally I tend to mistrust 'Internet genealogy' unless they are backed by facts, i.e. actual documents. Do you have copies of the documents?. If you can get to Essex Record Office who should have the Hornchurch records then it could be proved and is, in my view, much more interesting than some computer search, only my view and I know not everyone can.
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Re: William STEWARD

Postby SDV » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:19 pm

Junkers - as my original post suggested I am very sceptical of trees posted on Ancestry, as they are incestuous to a very high degree, feeding off and copying mistakes and poor research. However, where records are transcribed by competent researchers and images are available, the internet saves considerable time.

I have looked through the Essex parish registers online using SEAX and these are excellent. Sadly, they are not indexed, meaning that it is necessary to trawl through register after register. I could easily have missed a relevant baptism or burial, especially given that they are not easy to read.

You asked what documents I have in my possession:

i) baptism record for William Steward - 28 Jul 1771 @ Great Burstead. I have no proof, however, that this is the William who went on to marry Elizabeth CONN (née EDE).

ii) wedding register for James CONN to Elizabeth EDE - 29 May 1799 @ Whitechapel. This I believe to be correct.

iii) wedding register for William STEWARD to Elizabeth CONN (née EDE) - 05 Feb 1810 @ Hornchurch. This once again I believe to be correct.

iv) a burial register for William STEWARD - 02 Jul 1837 @ Great Burstead. This I suspect is wrong though it is often quoted in Ancestry trees. I believe that William would have been buried in Hornchurch alongside his children and following her death in 1867 his wife.

v) death certificate for William Steward - 16 Sep 1837 @ Witham. Though often quoted in Ancestry trees I believe this to be for another William.

I suppose my next step is to have another trawl through the registers, either online or at Colchester, to see if I can find a suitable death/burial. The problem is that whilst there are decent candidates for births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials, there is as yet no way to link them to prove that they are the same person. Unfortunately too many people on Ancestry take having the right name as conclusive proof, backed up by circumstantial evidence relating to a very loose time frame and an approximate near location.
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Re: William STEWARD

Postby sdup26 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:07 pm

If a name is 'right' and an event is in roughly the 'right' year, it gets added to a tree on Ancestry and other tree owners simply copy, grateful that someone else has done all the work for them! Your frustration is understandable.

Moan over. Re the marriage of William Steward to Elizabeth Conn, 5/2/1810, Hornchurch. Do the witnesses' names, Daniel Livermore & John Oxley, mean anything in the context of your family? Not all transcriptions include witnesses, so thought I'd mention it.
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Re: William STEWARD

Postby ianbee » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:29 pm

SDV wrote:most trees have him being buried on 02 Jul 1837 in Great Burstead

Image of BT is here ... cat=489231
We can see that he is recorded as being 66 years old, and abode is Great Burstead.

Possibilities -
1. It's a different William Steward to the Hornchurch chap
2. It's the Hornchurch chap, but the abode is wrong.
3. William + Elizabeth left Hornchurch, and went to Gt Burstead (where he was born?). He died, Elizabeth later returned to Hornchurch. (1841 is no help we can't pin her down, with or without William)

Now, if William and his wife were living together in, say, a cottage in Gt Burstead around about May 1837, would we expect him to appear in this very long and comprehensive list compiled for the parish poor rate?
Pages of names, including many cottage occupants, and ending with a list of those excluded because of poverty. ... cat=617480

There's a cluster of Stewards in separate cottages here (eight images on)
Thomas (assessment 260), George (263), James (269) ... cat=617480

If a William Steward is not in the list of Great Burstead ratepayers in May 1837, what could that signify? Bearing in mind the burial there a couple of months later. Either he was not himself a main occupier in Burstead, or that he was actually living elsewhere?
P.S. I'm not sure that it's very likely the abode would be wrong. The next one in the register was residing in Buttsbury, the one before in Billericay. Quite a number were from the Billericay poor house.
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Re: William STEWARD

Postby SDV » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:02 am

ianbee - thanks for your detailed reply, which I need to follow up. Unfortunately I am away for a few days, so I probably won't get a chance before the weekend.

As you know, I believe that the family were settled in Hornchurch. That's where all their children were born and baptised, and in some cases buried. That's where Elizabeth was in 1851 and where she died and was buried.

Why would they up sticks and move back to Great Burstead for William to die, only for Elizabeth to return to Hornchurch? Moreover, I'm still not convinced by the Great Burstead link. People on Ancestry are saying that William was born there, but their only proof is a baptism of a William Steward there at a reasonably appropriate time (28 Jul 1771). There is no proof that I can see that this William Steward is the one who married Elizabeth Conn (née EDE) in Hornchurch and settled in Hornchurch.

I still think it is more likely that the William Steward buried in Great Burstead in 1837 was the same one who was born there in 1771. And that the William Steward who married Elizabeth Conn (née EDE) was a different man, who could have died anytime between the birth of his last child in 1821 and 1851, when we know that Elizabeth was a widow. Of course, we could narrow this down if we could find either William or Elizabeth in 1841. I suspect that she was still in Hornchurch, but unrecorded for some reason.

The only real record we have for William is his marriage to Elizabeth Conn (née EDE) in 1810 in Hornchurch, together with the baptism records for their children, who were all baptised in Hornchurch between 1810 and 1821. He does not appear as a witness at any of the marriages of his children during the period 1830 to 1849, three of which were relatively local (Hornchurch, Romford and Havering).

As I said I will have a proper look at your latest posting on my return.

P.S. More and more convinced by your 1861C finding. The Charles Conn at the same address fits perfectly for Elizabeth's first born son from her first marriage to James Conn. Charles Henry Conn was born in Hornchurch in 1800 and baptised there on 15 Jun 1800. He married Mary Ann Parrott at Stratford Bow in 1823 before dying in Hornchurch in 1870. His mother was a witness at his wedding. His wife died in Hornchurch in 1840 and the 1841 census has Charles and his children living in Hornchurch. I think you have found him in 1861, which only really leaves 1851 to account for.
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Re: William STEWARD

Postby SDV » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:58 am

ianbee - hi, I have now had a chance to have a quick look at the links you posted.

You posted the BT for William Steward's burial and I now have a copy of the PR for the burial. As you would expect, the information on the two are more or less identical, confirming that his abode was Great Burstead. In addition, the PR notes that William died on 29 Jun 1837.

The lack of a William Steward in the long and comprehensive list of ratepayers of May 1837, rather confirms my belief that there are at least two William Stewards. One born in Great Burstead in 1771, who was probably related to the other Stewards you found living there in 1837, and who died there in June 1837. The other who could have been born anywhere, though probably in the Hornchurch and or Romford area, and who went on to marry Elizabeth CONN (née EDE) at Hornchurch in 1810.

The second William Steward was probably between 25 and 30 when he married Elizabeth, which suggests a slightly later birth date, perhaps ROUND 1780. This is, of course, pure speculation. The marriage certificate between William and Elizabeth is of little use. The witnesses were David Livermore and John Oxley, the latter appearing as a witness at several marriages of this period, so probably not connected to the family.

Sdup6 - please note the comment above about the witnesses.

I still believe that my William died in Hornchurch or the surrounding area, so I suppose the only option is to trawl through more parish registers on SEAX for the period between 1821 and 1841. I suppose the local newspaper (whatever that may be) might have something relating to his marriage or his death, but I doubt it as he wasn't of sufficient means for the family to have purchased space or of sufficient stature for these events to have merited comment in the press.


I should mention that there was probably a 3rd William Steward, as I have a death certificate for a William Steward who died aged 74 on 16 Sept 1837 at Kelvendon, Witham. This is clearly not the first William, as he was buried in July 1837. It could be the second William, though there is nothing on the death certificate to suggest this.
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