The Steevens Family and The Causeway

Mark Steevens

Mark Steevens wrote some of this page, donated most of the documents on this page, and inspired all the research for this page. He came to lunch here in Eversholt in Spring 2012, and we all had fun. Now in Autumn 2012, we hear the terribly sad and shocking news that Mark has died. He became ill at work and died shortly after.
I’m very thankful to have met Mark, and I send my best wishes for the future to his family in what must be a very difficult time. – Emrys Williams
We’ve been sent this brief note about Mark by his family.
MARK PAUL STEEVENS 1953 – 2012
A quiet man but not reserved, full of determination, enthusiasm and laughter.
He saw problems as a challenge not a menace.
He was gifted with an unassuming nature and never patronising he adored helping others not for adulation but simply the pure joy of making things right and better.
He loved his work at the B.B.C. and his colleagues there who made it even better.
With his great sense of humour his perfect day contained some form of playful banter and he had so many perfect days.
As a founding member and Chairman of his beloved Anglo-Burmese Library (ABL) he used his phenomenal memory to help people with the gaps in their family history.  His in-depth knowledge of an administration long since gone, as well its military history was a unique talent which he shared without reservation.
As the Burma representative for the British Assoc., of Cemeteries in South-Asia  (BACSA ) he was fulfilling his dream to ensure the graves and cemeteries of the past would be forever tended and treated with the respect they deserve.
His life was full and he was so very happy.

The Causeway  This double cottage was the home of the Steevens family from the late 18th century through to 1868. On the death of William Steevens in 1868 the property was sold at auction and passed shortly afterwards to the Turvey family. William Steevens’ younger brother George Steevens enlisted in the East India Company’s Madras Artillery in 1824, invaded Burma (successfully), married a Burmese (or rather Mon) girl and had a large family of which I (Mark Steevens) am one of the latest examples. George died of old age in Madras in 1877. The family story is the stuff of epic dramas and tragedies, against a background of exotic kingdoms, omnipotent despots and the savage war against Japan. I am in the process of writing the screenplay, but there are concerns about the budget.         

PIC_1866c

Click all the pictures for bigger versions!
Mark Steevens contacted Eversholt2 in 2012 to tell of his family’s history in Eversholt. On 21 May 2012, Mark Steevens came to visit Emrys and Sheila Williams and Robert Berkeley, and a fine time was had by all. He brought the pictures here to share. Thank you very much, Mark! [EJW writing this bit and below].
 
In all the documents below, there is confusion over spelling, some names being “Stevens” and some being “Steevens”. Mark Steevens points out that signatures of the literate members of his family always used a double E, while the names written down by clerks, or printed, for example in the poster below, tend to use a single “E”. So the true name of the family is Steevens, although mistakes are often made by those unfamiliar with the tradition.
Poster copyThis is an advertising poster for the sale of The Causeway in 1868 after the death of William Steevens.
The text reads, with slight liberties taken with punctuation and capitalisation:

Wits End, Eversholt, Bedfordshire.
 
Desirable freehold messuage, garden, and premises, to be sold by auction, by G. Greene, on Friday, March 27, 1868, at the “Bedford Arms” Hotel, Woburn, at 3 for 4 o’clock in the afternoon punctually, by direction of the trustees for sale, acting under the will of the late Mr. Wm. Stevens, in one lot; comprising a substantially-built brick-and-tile freehold messuage, in 2 tenements, with large garden in front, pleasantly situate at Wits End, in the beautiful village of Eversholt, facing the road leading to Church End, and possessing a frontage thereto of 120 feet, and an area of 30 perches (more or less.) One of the houses was lately occupied by the deceased, and containing entrance lobby, parlour, kitchen, front and back shop, warehouse over cellar, 2 large airy bedrooms, and 2 dressing rooms. Estimated rental, £12 per annum.The other is in the occupation of Miss Keating, containing entrance passage, parlour, kitchen, pantry, and 2 bedrooms, and a dressing room. Rent, £5. Quarterly tenancy.There are 2 board-and-thatch outbuildings, forming wood barns, coal house, &c., large garden, in which there are several choice apricot, peasch and morella cherry trees in full bearing order; the whole presenting a very desirable property, either for investment or in occupation, there being ample room to build. The soil is dry, and the neighbourhood very healthy.
 
To view apply on the premises, and further particulars may be known of John Green, Esq., solicitor, Woburn, or the auctioneer, Ampthill, Beds.
 
Notice!!
 
On the morning of the same day, at 10 for 11 o’clock precisely, will be sold on the premises, Wits End, about 50 lots of useful household furniture and effects, catalogues of which may be had a week prior to the day of sale, at the Bedford Arms Hotel, Woburn, place of sale, and of the auctioneer, Ampthill, or by post on application.
 
Clay, printer, Ampthill.

catalogue

This is the catalogue of furniture and effects mentioned above. It amounts to an inventory of the house in 1868.

Typing in that lot, or rather list of lots, will have to wait for someone more dedicated than I. But it’s clear that William Steevens was very comfortably off. Mahogany Pembroke table, two oak dining tables, two 4-poster beds… and a new parrot cage! I wonder what happened to the parrot?

The sale documents mention a will, and Mark Steevens has found it.

William Steevens Will 2

Since that’s a bit hard for the search engines to index, here’s a transcription.
The last Will and Testament of me William Stevens of Eversholt in Bedfordshire Cordwainer made this twenty fourth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three. I appoint William Frederick Green of Woburn in the said County Gentleman and John Negus of Eversholt aforesaid Butcher Executors of this my Will And I devise and bequeath to them their heirs executors and assigns all estates which at the time of my decease shall be vested in me upon any trust or by way of mortgage subject to and upon the equities and trusts affecting the same I give to my foreman Richard Blackford the sum of five pounds sterling and all my stock in trade of every description as a Boot and Shoe Maker with the tools and utensils used in such trade for his own use and benefit I direct that my said executors or the survivor of them and his executors shall as soon as conveniently may be sell and dispose of my household estate at Eversholt aforesaid and of my furniture and call in and convert into money all other my personal estate not specifically given by me and out of the money to arise from such sale calling in and conversion and the money of which I shall die possessed pay the aforesaid legacy and my debts funeral and testamentary expenses and divide the residue equally among my brothers George Stevens and Daniel Stevens my sister Ruth Brown Widow and Sarah Axam of Eversholt aforesaid Widow the sister of my first wife and William Bourn of Stony Stratford in Buckinghamshire the brother of my late wife to whom respectively the said George Stevens Daniel Stevens Ruth Brown Sarah Axam and William Bourn and their executors I give such residue in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand on the day and year before mentioned
William Stevens
We being present together at the signing of this Will by the said testator William Stevens do attest the same by subscribing our names in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other
John Green Woburn
Henry Thomas Hall Clerk to Mr Green, Woburn
This is a Codicil to my Will
I give to my Housekeeper Eliza Wright the sum of nineteen guineas and I direct my executors to pay the same into her own hands or otherwise as she shall in writing direct and her receipt alone or that of the other person she shall appoint to receive the said legacy shall notwithstanding her reverture be a good discharge to my said executors In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of October 1863
William Stevens
Signed by the testator as a codicil to his will in our presence and we attest the same by signing our names in his presence and in the presence of each other
John Green
Wm. Wiseman Solicitor Woburn Beds.
This is the second Codicil to my will
Whereas my brother Daniel Stevens has lately died I give to William Stevens his son the share of my estate and effects which the said Daniel Stevens would have taken under my said will if he had survived me In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of October 1864
William Stevens
Signed by the testator as a codicil to his will in our presence and we attest the same by signing our names in his presence and in the presence of each other
William Daniel, Eversholt
John Green.
This is a further Codicil to my will
I give to my Housekeeper Eliza Wright in addition to the legacy by a former codicil all articles of furniture and house linen customarily used in the bedroom she occupies in my house In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of June 1865
William Stevens
Signed by William Stevens the testator as a codicil to his Will in our presence who in his presence & that of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses
John Green
Henry Thomas Hall
Proved at London with three Codicils 7th April 1868 by the oaths of William Frederick Green and John Negus the Executors to whom admon was granted

John Frederick Green, the solicitor, lived at Berrystead in Eversholt. He needed a valuation of the effects, so wrote a letter:

Letter regarding William Steevens
and here’s the transcript, as best as I [EJW] can make out:
Berrystead Woburn
22 Feb 1868
Dear Sir
    I am to ask you to attend to a small business in valuing some few things on the premises of the late Mr William Stevens Shoemaker in Eversholt (next adjoining Mr William Daniels Farm) and ?? the ?? for sale. They are few and ordinary. Whatever Stock in trade, Tools and Utensils, there may be are to be valued together being a legacy to R. Blackford.
Same as to all articles of Furniture & House Linen customarily used in the room occupied by Eliza Wright, being a legacy to her.
If any of his relatives leave word that they wish for some article or other, a value may be put on such.
All the rest to be sold.
The funeral of Mr Stevens will take place on Tuesday. Any day after which may suit you will do. Mr Negus of Eversholt is the acting executor. ?? him of the time you mean to come.
?? yours
John Green
[address?] Mr George Green.

This table gives lists all the entries in the register of baptisms on this site (up to 1812) for the name “Stevens”. There are no entries for “Steevens”, but the transcription process leaves a lot to be desired, so that’s not definite.

Eversholt Parish Register of Baptisms
. Original Original Extended Gregorian day Name of Baptised Baptised Father Mother
. date Calendar date gender of baptised of baptised
. 13/09/1747 Julian 9/24/1747 Sun Hannah Stevens f Robert Stevens Elizabeth Stevens
. 18/05/1788 Gregorian 5/18/1788 Sun William Stevens m Thomas Stevens Mary Stevens
. 25/12/1791 Gregorian 12/25/1791 Sun Robert Stevens/-ins m Thomas Stevens/-ins Mary Stevens/-ins
. 06/11/1794 Gregorian 11/06/1794 Thu Daniel Stevens m Thomas Stevens Mary Stevens
. 25/12/1796 Gregorian 12/25/1796 Sun Hannah Stevens f Thomas Stevens Ann Stevens
. 18/08/1799 Gregorian 8/18/1799 Sun Ruth Stevens f Thomas Stevens Mary Stevens
. 15/10/1806 Gregorian 10/15/1806 Wed George Stevens m Thomas Stevens
. 15/10/1806 Gregorian 10/15/1806 Wed Samuel Stevens m Thomas Stevens
. 25/03/1810 Gregorian 3/25/1810 Sun Jane Stevens f Thomas Stevens Frances Stevens 

 

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This is all a bit confusing. Thomas “Stevens” seems to be happily producing children with Mary “Stevens”, and suddenly up pops one borne by Ann Stevens! Then two together with no mother listed. Did Mary “Stevens” die giving birth to twins? Then another mother, Frances “Stevens” – see below for more about her.
 
William Stevens, baptised in 1788, is the deceased who left The Causeway to be sold in 1868. George Stevens, baptised 1806, is his brother, and Mark Steevens’s direct ancestor, who went off to Burma.
 
Here are the burials, and there was indeed a Mary Stevens buried some time before George was baptised.
Eversholt Parish Register of Burials
. Original Original Extended day Deceased Husband Father Mother Occupation Location BiW? CoBiW date Notes
. date Calendar Gregorian date Name base? gender Status of deceased of deceased of deceased
. 14/07/1623 Julian 24/07/1623 Mon John Stevens base m John Stevens
. 22/10/1750 Julian 02/11/1750 Mon Hannah Stevens f w 10/27/1750
. 27/11/1803 Gregorian 27/11/1803 Sun Ann Stevens f
. 17/02/1804 Gregorian 17/02/1804 Fri Mary Stevens

 

Just for completeness, here are the marriages.

 

. Eversholt Parish Register of Marriages
. Original Original Extended Gregorian Groom Groom Groom Groom Bride Bride Bride Date wrong?
. date Calendar date day Name from occupation status Name From status licence Check original?
. 22/12/1744 Julian 02/01/1745 Sat Robert Stevens Tingrith Elizabeth Read Tingrith banns
. 11/10/1763 Gregorian 11/10/1763 Tue John Barton Eversholt

 

Mark Steevens has located the marriage licence documents for Thomas Steevens and Mary Backhouse for 1787. There were real teeth in the sworn statements of eligibility for marriage. If it later turned out the bride and groom were not eligible to be married, Thomas Steevens and William Peneyfather [or Pennyfarther], who swore they were, would be liable to pay £100 to the archdeacon’s office.

19 Thomas Marriage Licence

Since they were planning to be married in Eversholt Church, why aren’t their names in the register? Anyway, these were the parents of William Steevens, who was their first child. Thomas Steevens is spelt both “Stevens” and “Steevens” in these documents, but the signatures are always “Steevens”.
 
Thomas Steevens remarried after Mary’s death. Here is his 1809 certificate of marriage to Francis [sic] Bright, Spinster of Eversholt. James Major and Sarah Major were witnesses. Thomas and Sarah both signed with a very neat hand, but Francis and James made a mark instead. They priest was John Sandys “Junr“, although this is followed by a word that is unclear. The official rector of Eversholt in 1809 was John Sandys, appointed 1766 and therefore getting on a bit by 1809 – he died in 1810. Another John Sandys, presumably his son, was appointed curate of Eversholt and later, in 1798, rector of Milton Bryan. So the son had probably come over from Milton Bryan for the ceremony.

 

Thomas Steevens - Frances Bright marriage Eversholt 1809

 
William Steevens was married in 1815, and we have his marriage certificate from Eversholt Church, courtesy of Mark Steevens!
He married Elizabeth Sykes. John Axam and Mary Sykes were witnesses. 

marriage copy

 

Some Other People

Sorry, Ancestry.com login needed for many of these links below.

The smaller part of The Causeway


In 1851, it’s not clear who, if anyone, lived in the smaller part of The Causeway, because the census records for Witts End are not in the obvious order.


Eleanor Fuller or Ellen Fuller

In 1861, Eleanor Fuller (or Ellen, depending on where you look) lived on her own in the smaller part of The Causeway. She was an infant school teacher, presumably at Eversholt School. She was born in Eversholt about 1813.
In 1871, she had given up teaching to be housekeeper to John Peters. a retired farmer in Lower Rads End. In 1881, she was living off an annuity in Hills End, with Catherine Hartup, a 76-year-old lodger, and Laura Butler, a 13-year old boarder from Brighton. Is the difference between a lodger and a boarder that a lodger pays their own way, but a boarder is paid for by someone else? Eleanor died in 1888.
in 1851, she was living with her father, John Fuller, in New End round the corner, one of the houses associated with the Linden estate. I can’t find her in 1841, but I can’t say I’ve tried very hard!
Ellen Fuller was infant school teacher as far back as 1847. She’s listed in the 1847 Post Office directory.


Charlotte Louisa Keating

“Miss Keating” is mentioned on the house auction poster as living in the smaller of the two houses that make up The Causeway. She was born in 1841 in Westminster, and taught at the school, according to the 1871 census. The census gives here name (just) as “Char L Keating”. There is a Charlotte Louisa Keating of the right age who married Abraham Pobjoy, a widowed tailor born about 1827, in 1877, in Battersea. That looks to be the right one, because there is exactly one baptism record for a Charlotte Keating around the right time, and that was for Charlotte Louisa Keating, born in Westminster, which matches the 1871 Eversholt census, and with father John Keating, which matches the 1877 marriage record. Charlotte and Abraham Pobjoy lived in Battersea, and Abraham died in 1892. It’s not clear what happened to Charlotte.
“Miss Keating” is listed as schoolmistress in the 1876 directory. By 1877, she’s been replaced by Ellen Pepper. Back in 1869, it was Mary Armitage. So Charlotte seems to have been in Eversholt from between 1869 and 1871, to 1876.

The Attwood Family

In 1881, William and Sarah E Attwood were living in the smaller part of The Causeway. Again, the house name isn’t given, but it seems to be the right house, right at the end of the Wits End properties, with the added check that Sarah Dewberry was living two doors along. She was the next-door-neighbours to the Harrises, in 1891.
William Attwood was a “Sanitary Inspector School – Attendance Officer and Inquiry Officer” and Sarah was relegated to “Officer’s wife”. I mean, what further qualification could a women desire than to define herself as an “Officer’s wife”?
Did they move in when Charlotte Keating moved out? They’d moved to Woburn by 1891.
William’s occupation immediately throws up the vision of his colleague, the Insanitary Inspector.

 


The Adkins Family

The 1891 census shows William G J Adkins living alone in the smaller part of The Causeway. He’s 43, unmarried, and does not state any occupation. By 1901, he’s moved up in the world, because, while head of the household, he gives his occupation as “Supported by wife”! [I’ve tried the same trick, but it doesn’t go down well – EJW :-)] His wife is Elizabeth, two years younger than William, and “Living on own means”. He was born in Tingrith, and she, Eversholt. Their distribution of income was apparently a sore point for them, too, since in1911, under William’s entry as head of the household, there’s Elizabeth’s entry also listing her as head of the household! Then some spoilsport has crossed that out and sniffily listed “wife”. They still have “independent means”. There are some other marks on the paper which might be fascinating if we could only read them!
William G J Adkins was the son of the Adkins farming family of Tingrith, listed there in 1871. He was still living in Tingrith in 1881 (his age given on the various census forms is even more variable than usual). Elizabeth was another familiar name – Eliza Sibley. They married in 1892.

The larger part of The Causeway


The Steevens Family

William Steevens may have lived all his life in The Causeway, and may have inherited the building from Thomas Steevens, his father, who might have been living there since the 1700s. In 1841, he and Elizabeth are listed in Eversholt, but it’s not clear where. He’s a shoemaker. In 1851, he’s a cordwainer employing 3 men and 1 apprentice, living in Wits End. In 1861, he’s a master cordwainer employing 3 men.
Elizabeth died in 1863, probably.
William Steevens is listed (as “Stevens”, inevitably) as a shoemaker in the 1847, 1862 and 1864 directories. Throughout this time, his business has a competitor, John Gazeley of Rads End. In the 1869 directory, Gazeley is the only shoemaker in town. By 1876, Gazeley has become “Gazeley & Co”. The 1877 directory has them listed as “Gazeley, George & Jabez”. Geroge Gazeley is making shoes in 1890 and Kohn Gazeley in 1898, but that’s the last [sorry – EJW] of the shoemaking Gazeleys. However, the 1903, 1910 and 1914 directories list Thomas Ireland of Rads End as Eversholt’s shoemaker.

The Fryer Family

The 1871 census does not have full street address listed, only schedule numbers, but it usually is that the schedule numbers are in order, walking along the road. Next to Miss Keating is the household of Edward Fryer, 42, born in Dunstable. His occupation is plait dealer. He lives with his wife, Joyce, 38, and their two-month-old son, Edward Lewis Fryer (given as “Lewer” in the Fryer family tree on Ancestry.) Edward Lewis was born in Eversholt so was probably born in The Causeway. Were these the people who bought The Causeway at auction (yes – but I will need to find the document which proves it)? The notion that this is the right household is strengthened by the next household along, which is that of William Daniels, farmer, mentioned as next door neighbour in the letter from John Green above.
Edward, Joyce and Edward Lewis Fryer don’t stay long. Strangely, Edward and Joyce seem not to be listed in the 1881 census, but Edward Lewis Fryer, aged 10, is definitely a boarder with the Allen family in Wingrave. He made his own way, for he was living with his family and working as a confectioner in 1901 and 1911. There are no obvious other records for Edward and Joyce, though, in 1881 or 1891. Edward doesn’t appear in any other census that I can find, before or after. Then, suddenly, in 1901, Joyce reappears in Linslade, a widow living with her daughter, Mary Fryer, who was born in Cranleigh, Surrey, about 1875. In 1911, Joyce is still going, still living with Mary, who has now married a taxman. There’s a likely birth record for Mary in Hambledon registration district in Q3 1874.
Mary Fryer in 1881 was living with Joyce’s brother, Alfred Cleaver, and his family in Toddington. He was a miller, and in 1871 Joyce had listed her birthplace as Toddington Mill. In 1891, Mary was living as the niece of George or Susannah Pedder in Houghton Regis.
So what on earth happened to Edward and Joyce Fryer? What caused them to abandon their children? -see below
Edward and Joyce’s marriage is listed in the Woburn registration district in 1867, though. She was Joyce White. She’d married before. In 1861, she was living as the wife of George White, a plait dealer, in Toddington, where she was born. They married in 1859. Confusingly, she spelt her name Joice, Joice Cleaver. There’s a death record for a George White in 1865 in Woburn registration district, but without a date of birth.
Edward Fryer died in 1879 at Hambledon in Surrey.  Joyce died in 1925 at Luton.  Interestingly, the Fryer family tree gives her mother as Sarah Sophia Bright who was baptised on 22 Sept 1790 in Toddington.  This Sarah is a good candidate to be the sister of Thomas Steevens’s second wife Frances.

So the Fryers didn’t stay long in The Causeway, and after a promising start, their family broke up.


The Stratford Family

In 1881, The larger part of The Causeway was occupied by  the Stratford Family. Edward J Stratford was only 25, but a farmer of 84 acres, employing two men. He and his wife, Marian, had two children, William and Ernest. By 1891, they’d moved away to a farm at Clapham, Bedfordshire.

The Harris Family

The 1891 census shows the Harris family in the Causeway. Arthur William Harris, carpenter and builder, is 29, so born about 1862. his wife is Mary, 30, and they have a son, George T Harris, 11 months. Arthur was born in Eversholt – just round the corner, in fact. His grandparents were the Harrises who ran the Eversholt store and Post Office. There is a complete set of censuses for him – 1871, (when was plain William Harris) 1881189119011911. Here’s the 1911 census in full from Ancestry, because it shows a thriving family in The Causeway:
Arthur Harris 1911 census
Arthur William Harris variously described himself as a coachbuilder, carpenter, builder and master builder. He’s an employer. His father was a carpenter, also employing someone.
Although the house name doesn’t appear on any of these documents, the position of the record in the list gives it away – it’s always the next-to-the-end house in the list of Wits End properties. Next to the end because the last house in Wits End was the smaller part of The Causeway, the part that used to be rented by Charlotte Keating, and throughout this time, that was always occupied as a separate house, unlike in 2012, when it’s been incorporated into the rest of the building as a single property.
It’s Edith Mary Harris, aged 9 on the 1911 census, who makes the link with the present residents of The Causeway. Frederick J Turvey married Edith M Harris in 1926. So members of one family have lived in The Causeway since at least 1891. Is this the oldest continuous occupation of a house by one family in Eversholt?
The June 2009 issue of About Eversholt reprinted a 1938 cutting from the Luton News and Bedfordshire Advertiser supplied by Jim Turvey. The article celebrate the golden wedding of Arthur William Harris and Mary Harris, who were still living in The Causeway then. The [1938?] article said “Left to Mr Harris by his grandmother, it has been in the family for over a century”. That seems to have been wrong, since it was certainly sold in 1868. “Mr. and Mrs. Harris, who are both natives of the village, have had a family of five sons and two daughters. Two of the boys were killed in the war but the remainder of the family are still alive, and there are seven grandchildren. Both the daughters have married farmers, one living in the nearby village of Wood End, while the other is at Scaldwell, Northamptonshire. One son has a small farm at Wavendon, while the other two live close at hand.” Presumably Edith was the daughter who married the Wood End farmer, who turned out to be Frederick Turvey. The article also says that electricity arrived at the farm in 1938.
Arthur William Harris’s grandmother was the Ann Harris who ran the village store. Sam and Ann Harris from the store must have bought The Causeway at some time – maybe even in 1868. They could have been renting it out waiting for a suitable descendant to run it!

Richard Blackford

In his will, William Steevens described Richard Blackford as his “foreman”, and left him £5 and all his shoemaking business.
Richard lived in Hills End. In 1851, the household included Mary, his wife, born in Eversholt around 1801. Richard described himself as a cordwainer, which is a fancy way of saying shoemaker, or possibly a way of saying fancy shoemaker. They also shared the house with William Smith, 25, who’d just married Richard’s daughter Mary Ann, aged 22. Both Mary and Mary Ann were born in Eversholt, so, presumably, Richard moved to Eversholt sometime before 1829 and married Mary here. Indeed, he’s listed in Hills End in 1841 living with Mary and his daughter. In 1861, Richard and his wife have the house to themselves. By 1871, Richard is a widower, still living in Hills End, because Mary had died in 1864. He died in 1875. There’s no monument to the Blackfords in the churchyard today.
 

 

 

 

 

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