Stevens/Stephens Surname Genealogy

It could be Stephens, it could be
Stevens – being “son of Stephen” and “son of Steven,” a personal
name from the Greek Stephanos meaning “crown.”  It was a popular
name in the early Middle Ages, having been borne by the first Christian
martyr.  There are two spellings of the surname, Stevens and

Stevens/Stephens Resources on

England.   In England, the first record of Stephens came
from Airard
who commanded William the Conqueror’s
flagship on the invasion of England.  His
family received land allotments in Gloucestershire. They
became feudal barons and remained powerful through medieval
times.  The
Fitz was dropped sometime
around 1350.  Branches of the family were
later resident at Eastington, Chavenage, and Lypiatt Park.

Stephens as
it is spelt has remained very much a west country name, with a
high concentration in Cornwall.  A
Stephens family was established at St. Ives from the 1470’s, having
arrived there after a shipwreck from Ireland.
They started out as bakers and became successful merchants.  Samuel Stephens of this family
built a
splendid mansion for himself at Tragenna Castle in 1774.
But it stayed with the family for only sixty years.

One Cornish family history began with the marriage of Robert Stephens
and Mary Morrier in St. Austell in 1667. Their descendants remained in
St. Austell until the mid 19th century when the depression in the
mining industry there drove many to emigrate to Australia.

However, the Stevens spelling can be found at St. Ives in
Cornwall.   William Stevens, the progenitor of a St. Ives
family, was born nearby at Zennor in 1611.  For five generations, starting in 1900, a Stevens family has been fishing off St. Ives.

Stevens, by general contrast, has been a name of London and the
southeast.  One Stevens family came from
Henley in
Oxfordshire.  Henry Stevens was Wagonmaster
General to Charles I during the Civil War.
His descendants, lawyers in London, held lands in Berkshire,
at Wargrave and then at Bradfield.
The Rev.
Thomas Stevens converted the Bradfield manor house in the 19th century
into Bradfield College.

Surrey Stevens living in 1600 included Rodger Stevens of Banstead and
Jerome Stevens of Ewell.  The early cricketer Edward “Lumpy”
Stevens was born at Send near Guildford in 1735.

America.  John
Stephens was an early arrival in America, settling in Guilford,
Connecticut in
1648.  Some genealogies have him coming
from Lypiatt in Gloucestershire, but this has been disputed.  A branch of this family was later to be found
in Maryland.  Henry Stephens who came to
Stonington, Connecticut in 1668 was also thought to have come from
Gloucestershire, but again this may be doubtful.

Some of the early Stephens in America were
from Germany, such as Peter Stephens (born Peter
Steffen) who was instrumental in founding in Virginia in the 1730’s the
town that is now called Stephens City.

On the Stevens side was John Stevens from
Oxfordshire who came to Newbury, Massachusetts in 1638.
Another John
arrived in New York from
London in 1699 and later settled in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.  He was the patriarch of a very notable early
American family:

  • his
    son John grew to prominence as a sea captain and merchant
    and later was a member of the Continental Congress.
  • his
    founded the New Jersey town of Hoboken, was the builder of the first
    ocean-going steamship and he also designed and constructed the first
    steam locomotive.
  • while
    two of John’s sons, Robert and Edwin, were also
    inventors.  Edwin
    left a bequest which started
    the Stevens Institute of Technology.

Today the overall Stevens/Stephens numbers
in America are larger than in England because they include some
who had originally come from Germany or Holland.

Canada.  The brothers
Roger and Abel Stevens of Pittsford, Vermont were Loyalist at the time
of the Revolutionary War.  Both later departed for Canada.
Abel left in 1794 and set up a Baptist colony for Vermonters in Leeds
county, Ontario which came to be known as Steventown.

Australia.  The Rev. John Stephens, a Methodist minister
from Cornwall, was father to two sons who stayed in England and three
sons who were early settlers in South

  • Edward Stephens came out with his wife Emily on the Coromandel in 1836.  Like his
    father he was a Methodist and the first Methodist sermon in South
    Australia was preached in his tent.  He prospered in Adelaide, but
    returned to England in 1855.
  • his
    brother John Stephens was active in London in promoting this new
    colony, publishing his
    book The Land of Promise in
    1839.  He came out to Adelaide himself in 1843 and founded the Adelaide Observer newspaper.
    However, he incurred debts, faced libel suits, and died early in
  • while another brother Samuel Stephens lasted an even
    shorter time in South Australia.

Other Stephens from Cornwall came to South Australia
later, as miners.  John Stephens, for instance, arrived with his
wife Mary in 1850, first working as a carpenter at the Burra Burra mine
before moving to Moonta.

Stevens/Stephens Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Stevens/Stephens Names

was the Norman nobleman who came to England with
William the Conqueror.  John

from New Jersey was the
builder of the first ocean-going steamship.  He also designed and
constructed the
first American-built steam locomotive.

Lloyd Stephens
was a 19th century American explorer and diplomat
who played a prominent role in the rediscovery of Mayan civilization
and the planning of the Panama railroad.   Wallace Stevens was an
American modernist poet of the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Select Stevens/Stephens Today
  • 97,000 in the UK (64% Stevens,
    36% Stephens)
  • 118,000 in America (57% Stevens, 43% Stephens)
  • 44,000 elsewhere (66% Stevens, 34% Stephens)




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