Was Stedman really from Yarkhill?

Richard Smith richard at OBsdl3cv-WkQIw39aO7gQfDNwWKs2aO5Tlvsh1Ug2LXC40KjPR-pWmQwVeHfF2Z9MBV8v8nPga1vt0Y.yahoo.invalid
Wed Jun 15 21:13:59 BST 2011

I hope this isn't considered off-topic for this list as it's 
not bell history per se, more ringing history.

Being generally rather sceptical about a lot of what has 
been written about Stedman, I decided to spend a little time 
examining the claim that Fabian Stedman, the London ringer, 
really was the same person as the Fabian Stedman who was 
baptised at Yarkhill on 7 Dec 1640.  His name might be 
unusual, but even so it would be dangerous to assume there 
was only one person going by that name at the time.

However, my conclusion, based on a comparison of 
genealogical information in the Yarkhill parish registers 
with that contained in Stedman's 1713 will, is that they are 
the same person -- i.e. that Stedman was indeed from 
Yarkhill.  I expect little of this is new, but equally, I've 
not seen any of this discussed anywhere, so I thought I'd 
share it.

I've not consulted the original Yarkhill parish register, 
only a transcription, though I've no reason to believe there 
are any substantive errors in the transcript.  There are 
seven Stedmans baptised at Yarkhill in the 17th century, and 
it's pretty likely that they are all siblings:

   14 Oct 1627   Francis     [only father stated]
   20 Sep 1629   Ro[bert?]   [parents not stated]
    9 Apr 1635   Urs[ula]
    8 Dec 1636   Sar[ah]
   20 Nov 1638   Urs[ula]
    7 Dec 1640   Fabian
   14 Feb 1642   Adam

We can assume the first Ursula died as a baby, and a later 
child was given the same name; this practice was common at 
the time.  The parents are given as Francis and Urs[ula]. 
It seems reasonable to assume that Francis, the father, was 
the vicar of Yarkhill.  Joseph Foster's 'Alumni Oxoniensis' 
has an entry for Francis as follows [p.1416]:

   STEDMAN, Francis of Salop, pleb. [i.e. commoner] BRASENOSE
     COLL. matric. 24 Nov., 1615, aged 17, and again
     28 Feb, 1616-17, aged 18, B.A. 3 June, 1619, M.A.
     6 May, 1622; vicar of Yarkhill, co. Hereford, 1625.

That firmly puts him in Yarkhill at the right time, and make 
him the right age to be having children during the period 
1627-42.  The Yarkhill parish register also lists two 
marriages of Stedmans:

   Urs[ula]  married J[oh]n Ravenhill  on 15 Aug 1655
   Sar[ah]   married J[oh]n Bond       on  9 Jul 1661

It seems highly likely that Sarah must be Fabian's sister, 
and quite likely that Ursula is also Fabian's sister (though 
we could perhaps believe it might be his mother if she been 
widowed).  The Yarkhill register also mentions the 
baptism of one child to Ursula and John Ravenhill.

   30 Oct 1656  J[oh]n son of J[oh]n and Urs[ula] Ravenhill

So that's the little we know about the Yarkhill Fabian 
Stedman.  What do we know about the London one?  We have the 
will of "Fabian Stedman of the parish of St Andrew 
Undershaft, London, Gentleman" that was made on 7 Oct 1713, 
and for which probate was granted on 28 Nov 1713. 
Trollope, in his unpublished work on 17th and 18th century 
London ringing, tells us he was buried at Undershaft on 16th 
Nov 1713.

In the will, he bequeaths "my sister Sara Bond twenty 
pounds"; he also remembers the children and grandchildren of 
Sarah, though not by name.  After a number of other bequests 
to non-relatives, the remainder of his estate goes to "my 
cousin John Ravenhill son of my sister Ursula whom I make 
sole executor".  (The OED tells us that at that time, 
"cousin" meant any relative more distant than a sibling, 
frequently a niece of nephew.)

This matches precisely what we find in the Yarkhill parish 
registers.  The registers suggest Fabian had only two 
sisters, Ursual Ravenhill and Sarah Bond, both of whom are 
named in the will.  (Ursula wasn't bequeathed anything and 
could perhaps have been dead by 1713.)  Fabian's executor, 
John Ravenhill, can also be matched to someone in the 
Yarkhill parish registers.

That seems to prove conclusively that the Fabian Stedman who 
died in 1713 and was buried in St Andrew Undershaft was the 
same one who was baptised in Yarkhill, Herefordshire in 
1640.  We don't definitely know that this person was the 
ringer, but having firmly placed him within the City of 
London makes it seem highly likely.  A 1640 birth also 
matches Trollope's estimate of 1640-41 for Stedman's birth; 
and Trollope was writing at a time when the 1640 baptism at 
Yarkhill had yet to be found and conventional wisdom has his 
birth in 1631.

Anyway, I don't know to what extent this is of interest to 
those on this list, but I thought I'd share it in case.



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