The name of a first born son or daughter is a good way of confirming whether or not your research, as regards a particular family line, is on the right track, and this has been the case with my current research into the Stevens line (my mother’s father’s line) of my family tree.
The father of my 3 x great-grandfather, John Stevens (1811-1876) was, I believe, a Samuel Stevens (1776-1841) and his father in turn was another John Stevens (1737-1803).
The name John is clearly important. John (1737-1803) named his first son John. He appears to have died in infancy as John’s fourth son (seventh child) was also named John. Sadly, this child also seems to have died in infancy; the couple’s fifth son (eighth child) was also named John. The couple’s third son (fourth child) was named Samuel (b1769) who again appears to have died in childhood. Another Samuel (my direct ancestor and the couple’s ninth child) was born seven years later in 1776. This shows that the name Samuel was also important.
This Samuel (1776-1841) had several children including a Samuel (first son, born in 1808) and a John (my direct ancestor born in 1811). John also had many children; his first born was John (1837-1888) and his second son was Samuel (1839-1919). My direct ancestor, Jabez (1847-1899) also had children, none of whom were called John or Samuel. Indeed, the name doesn’t appear again in my direct family line. One reason for this falling out of favour might be that John Stevens (1837-1888) spent much of the last part of his life in Moulsford Asylum. With the loss of his income his wife Emma entered a workhouse with two of her children, Martha and Kate, where she died of cancer in 1873.
The important point is that my 3 x great-grandfather’s second son was Samuel; it links him with the Samuel Stevens who I believe to be my 4 x great-grandfather. But where does the name Samuel come from? Why was it so important?
Going through the Oxfordshire parish indexes last week I discovered the following: my 5 x great-grandfather John Stevens (1737-1803) was married to Lydia Borton (1734-1822) in the church of St. Mary Magdalen on 24th March 1764. The witnesses are given as Sam Borton and Mary Stevens. In the records I discovered that Lydia’s father was Samuel Borton, an innkeeper in the parish of St. Mary Magdalen. So, that must be where the name comes from as regards its important in the Stevens line.