Researching John Stevens in the library today, I found what I’m sure must be his parents. Having looked at the Index of Baptisms for the time around his birth (1811) I found only one person matching his dates. John Stevens was born on 7th October 1811 in St. Aldate’s parish. His parents are given as Samuel and Mary Stevens, and looking at John Stevens’ children, I found that his second born son is named Samuel (his first son is called John). I decided to see if I could locate a Samuel Stevens in the Parish Registers. I couldn’t be sure that he was born in the city but it seemed quite likely. Sure enough I found a Samuel Stevens born on the 4th April 1776, baptised in St. Martin’s (now demolished). His parents were given as John and Lydia Stevens and so I looked for a record of their marriage in the city. Again my luck was in and I found that they were married on March 24th 1764 in St. Mary Magdalen. Lydia’s maiden name was Borton and the witnesses at the wedding were Sam Borton and Mary Stevens. John is described as being from St. Martin’s which is where Samuel was baptised.
At the same time I also wrote the following:
A year or so ago, I started work on a piece of work based around John Gwynn’s survey of 1772. The piece was called (as a working title) ‘6 Yards 0 Feet 6 inches’ based on the measurement of John Malchair‘s home in Broad Street. Having discovered an ancestor – John Stevens – born in the city in 1811, I wondered if there was any chance that one of the Mr Stevens’ listed on the survey was an ancestor of mine? It seemed a long shot but after today’s research I’m rather more optimistic.
If I did have an ancestor in Oxford at the time of the survey and if my research is correct, then that ancestor would be John Steven, the grandfather of the one previously mentioned. I’ve no idea when he was born but I do know that he was married in 1764 and is described as coming from St. Martin’s Parish, where his son Samuel, John Jr’s father was baptised in 1776. One could assume therefore that I did indeed have ancestors living in the parish of St. Martin’s at the time of the survey.
The images below are taken from the survey and show two Stevens one of which might well be my ancestor.
Gwynn fails to include (at least on the copy I have) first names from the survey but within the parish of St Martin’s two Mr Stevens are recorded along with a Mrs Stevens. One can assume however, that those most likely to be mine are the two Mr Stevens mentioned as living in the parish, one in Butcherrow (now Queen Street), the other in North Gate Street (now Cornmarket). The residence in Butcherrow is 7 yards 0 feet and 6 inches. That in North Gate Street is 4 yards 2 feet 0 inches.
Of course more work is required to see if one of these is indeed my ancestor, but I must admit to being very inspired by the prospect.
Yesterday, I was looking through Jackson’s Oxford Journal online and decided to search for a number of my ancestors. I’d already done as much with the Hedges side of the family (discovering in the process that they were often in trouble – see ‘The Victorians‘) and decided to check on my maternal side. I searched for Lydia Stevens (my 5 x great-grandmother) and discovered the following from an edition of the newspaper printed on November 2nd 1822:
‘Yesterday se’nnight [a week] died, at her house in the Corn-market, in the 88th year of her age, Mrs. Lydia Stevens, relict [widow] of the late Mr. John. Stevens, of this city.’
Not only did this notice give me her dates of birth and death (1734 – Friday, 25th October 1822), it also seemed to indicate that the Mr. Stevens recorded in John Gwynn’s survey on 1772 was my 5 x great-grandfather. Of course there is a 50 year gap between the date of the survey and the date of Lydia’s death, but it seems quite probable nonetheless.