The Steward Family
Introduction and a Caution
Donald Steward

Steward Family Album

Warning: This story on this page should be read with healthy scepticism.

It is highly likely that the Steward genealogy pre 1500 was manufactured by Nicholas Steward (-1520) and his son Robert Steward, the first dean of Ely Cathedral, in the 16th Century and possibly enhanced later by Nichols's great great grandson Oliver Cromwell.

I have been unable to find the transcription of the family history which Robert apparently preserved with the history of Ely cathedral (which I understand still survives) and so the Steward story on this page is based on second and third-hand versions.

This missing account may be included in appendices of "The Memoirs of the Protectorate House of Cromwell" vol II by M Noble 1784. At the time of writing only volume 1 is available on Google Books.

Unfortunately most online versions contain glaring errors and inconsistencies and the one which appears to be the most accurate (it is at least self-consistent and agrees with historical events), does not agree with some other contemporary evidence which Robert would have had access to.

As a result the story may be an imperfect version of a myth!

Regardless, it is at worst an interesting tale and at best it may - like many family tales - contain elements of the truth ....

.... either way, I hope that you enjoy the story!

May 2008
I have recently received an extensive family tree of the Steward family from TC of Romford, who has been researching the Steward family for some time. TC has generously given me permission to publish his information on this web site. Rather than mix his detailed and far more complete and wide ranging research with my overview, his information is published separately from mine - see the link below.

Where there is disagreement between our accounts, I recommend treating TC's information as the more accurate.

Click here for TC's Steward Family History

The account below is from my own research which overlaps TC's work.

Unfortunately, despite many references stating that the Great Yarmouth Stewards are descendants of Nicholas Steward of Wells, neither of us have yet been able to discover the link. With many branches of the family still undocumented however, there are still many options remaining which may lead to someone discovering this in the future.

The Steward Family History
The distribution of the Stewards today (map from Spatial-Literacy.org) live largely in Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire and Essex, having lived there since at least the 16th C..

Pockthorpe Brewery
Steward & Patteson, Pockthorpe Brewery, Great Yarmouth
Working back in time, this story starts with the Steward family of , brewers, merchants and privateers. Timothy Steward (1696-1769) moved to Yarmouth from , presumably in the early 1700s. Our familiy connection is with Mary Steward, the wife of Charles Josselyn, who was Timothy's great-great-granddaughter.

Through their connection with the Norwich brewery of Steward and Patteson, the Steward family is documented in considerable detail in the book "Norfolk Beers from English Barley - A History of Steward and Patteson 1793-1963" by Terry Gourvish (ref 1). The Yarmouth Steward family is documented here.

From Timothy we jump back 200 years to the early 16th century: "They can be traced to Nicholas Steward of Wells-next-the-Sea (died c.l52O)" (ref 1). Gourvish probably did not detail this part of the family history as it fell outside the scope of the book, but it is likely that that this is based on details in his sources for the Steward family history: "The Perlustration of Great Yarmouth" (ref 3) and "The Steward Pedigree Book" (ref 4) and so hopefully this gap in the family tree can be filled.

Nicholas Steward headed "an established Norfolk family of minor gentry" (ref 2). Oliver Cromwell's mother was Elizabeth Steward, great grand daughter of Nicholas. One son, Robert Steward (c.1500-1557), was the last prior and first dean of Ely cathedral at the time of the reformation. As a result there is a lot of information surviving about them.

"The family was convinced that they descended from the Stewart royal house, via Sir John Steward, the so-called Scot-Angle, who moved to England in the service of Henry V. In 1511 the heralds prepared a full, if questionable, genealogy for them, and this became a document of obsessive importance for the family." (ref 2)

This Royal connection was probably also important to Oliver Cromwell (in to establish a royal heritage) and so the genealogy may also have been 'massaged' by his spin doctors. As a result this part of the story must be treated with some caution.

If true, the Steward genealogy connects the family to Sir John Steward, who came to England from Scotland with the future James I of Scotland in 1406, and then back to Alexander Steward ( -1283), 4th Steward of Scotland and grandfather of Robert II of Scotland, the first of the Stuart Kings of Scotland and England.

An alternative view is expressed by another researcher:

Descent was claimed from a Scottish prince shipwrecked in 1406 on the Norfolk coast, who could not find his way home. Most contemporaries believed Stywards of Swaffham and Wells, Norfolk, Norwell in Nottinghamshire, Ramsey, Ely, and Putney originally hailed from Calais, and noted that their arms made no allusion to arms of the Scottish Stuarts, which one would expect of a cadet of the royal house.

This is not an accurate description of the Steward's claim (descent was not claimed to be from the Prince but from his companion and third cousin) and the rest is unsubstantiated, therefore it is hard to know how to judge this statement.

With that brief introduction and warning let's start back in the 13th century and look at the details of the Steward story looking at both the family version and the contemporary recorded history.

Scottish Royalty? 1000 to 1406
The position of Lord High Steward of England is the first of the Great Officers of State. Although initially the position was largely an honorary one, over time it grew in importance until its holder became one of the most powerful men of the kingdom.

In Scotland, the hereditary position of High Steward or Great Steward was given in the 12th century to Walter Fitzalan, whose descendants became the Stewart/Steward family. In 1371, the last High Steward, Robert Steward, inherited the throne, becoming Robert II of Scotland (1316-1390) starting a continuous line of descent ending in 1685 with the death of Charles II. See the panel opposite.

If we are to believe the Steward genealogy, the Norfolk Steward family are descendants of a younger son of the 4th High Steward, Alexander. There are a number of accounts on this and the following extract of the book "Wadsworth or The Charter Oak" by W.H. Gocher in 1904 is representative:

Genealogists have shown that Oliver Cromwell and Charles I. were distantly related. Both of them were descended from Alexander, the Lord High Steward of Scotland. He had three sons, James, John and Andrew.

James succeeded to the hereditary office of his father and transmitted it on his death to his son Walter, who brought the Scottish crown into the family by marrying Margery, the eldest daughter of Robert Bruce and heiress of his brother David, who died without issue. Their son was Robert II, King of Scotland, the line of succession from him to Charles I being through Robert III, James I, James II, James III, James IV, James V, Mary and James VI, who was James I of England and father of Charles I.

The second branch of Alexander's descendants through his son John are known in history as the Earls and Dukes of Lennox, and was joined with the royal line when Lord Darnley married Mary, Queen of Scots, whose only child was the first of the ill-fated Stuarts to ascend the throne of England.

Andrew, the third son, lived at Dundavale. His grandson was appointed one of the attendants of James I. when he was sent to France to evade the intrigues of his uncle, the Duke of Albany. The vessel in which they sailed was driven on the English coast and Henry IV. detained the prince and his suite as prisoners. Growing restless under restraint this member of the Steward family, whose name was John, consented to fix his residence in England if released. He married advantageously and was knighted.

While Alexander's first two sons, James and John, are well documented, I have found no record of Alexander having a third son, Andrew. It is likely that Alexander had a large family and so it is possible that this Andrew existed.

There are a number of accounts of the Steward family genealogy on the web, unfortunately almost all include glaring errors and none give sources. I suspect that most of these accounts are corrupted versions of the genealogy shown below, from the website of Penny Givens. This was prepared by E. S. Stewart in the 1930s and published in the Stewart Clan Magazine. While this also lacks source references, unlike most of these accounts it seems to be relatively consistent with historical events and the generations fit. However as we will see, it does not agree with some contemporary documents and so even as a 'mythology' it may be inaccurate.

From Andrew the line of descent is as follows (most accounts start numbering the Steward generations from Alexander Steward (1) and to be consistent I will do the same):

Andrew Steward (2), third son of the fourth high steward, had a son Alexander. The position of this Andrew in the pedigree was formerly a matter of dispute among historians, but his place is now generally accepted.

Alexander Steward (3), called "the fierce," is said to have killed a lion with a club, and on that account he received an addition to his arms.

John Steward (4), second cousin to King Robert II was one of the attendants of Prince James Stuart (1395-1437) when he was captured by the English {accounts differ; alternatively he was shipwrecked, captured by the English or taken by pirates} near Flamborough Head on March 30 1406 on his way to France (ie at age 11), while attempting to escape from the Duke of Albany. James was imprisoned by Henry IV in Windsor Castle for 19 years. On 4 April 1406, just days after James' capture, Robert III died and James became James I of Scotland, he wasn't crowned until his release in 1424.

John Steward remained in England, and in 1408 he was knighted by King Henry IV, he was called the Scot-Angle. He fought in the English army in France and is believed to have perished in the battle of Agincourt, 1415

(note: John was Robert III's second cousin and so he was certainly older than James, probably 20-30 in 1406, ie born 1376 +/- 10 years)

Unfortunately, even this account cannot be an accurate transcription of Robert Steward's genealogy as it disagrees with the origin of the Stywarde family arms (text below), which Robert was aware of, where it is Andrew and not Alexander who slew the Lion:

"The drawing illustrates the incident in which the Stewart family allegedly gained the arms of argent a lion gules debruised by a ragged staff, when Andrew Stewart slew the lion of Balliol with a ragged staff and in return received from Charles VI, king of France, the right to bear the lion and staff as an augmentation of honour on the Stewart arms." (full text at end of page)

The Origins of the Stewarts and Stewards

The following are extracts from Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ref 2).

Walter Fitzalan (c.1110-1177), third son of Alan son of Flaald, was a favoured supporter of Henry I, who was descended from the hereditary stewards of Dol in Brittany. Walter's elder brother William was lord of Oswestry and Clun in Shropshire, and ancestor of the Fitzalans who were later earls of Arundel. Walter entered the service of David I, king of Scots, about 1136, and towards the end of David's reign became the king's dapifer, or steward, an office which was to be held heritably.

Walter died in 1177, his heir, from his marriage to Eschina, evidently of a family native to southern Scotland, being Alan (c.1150-1204), who served William the Lion (r. 1165–1214) as dapifer until his death in 1204 and whose daughter Avelina married Duncan, sometime earl of Carrick.

Walter son of Alan (c.1198-1241), was the third hereditary steward and adopted the more dignified title senescallus on reaching his majority c.1219. He was a considerable benefactor of Paisley Abbey and held office as justiciar of Scotia (that is, Scotland north of Forth) between 1232 and 1241. A close alliance between the families of Stewart and Bruce, lords of Annandale, may be traced from Walter's time and continued until the early fourteenth century. Both his sons played a prominent part in the national life of mid-thirteenth-century Scotland. His younger son Walter, was the first to adopt the name Stewart.

Walter's elder son, Alexander of Dundonald (c.1220-1282), the fourth steward, held the stewardship from 1241 until about the time of his death. He seems to have commanded the armed force which, at Largs, in October 1263, successfully defended Scotland against attempted invasion by Hákon IV, king of Norway. Alexander's oldest surviving son was baptized James, hitherto an uncommon personal name in Scotland.

James Stewart (c.1260-1309), the fifth steward, was in the forefront of Scottish politics throughout his tenure of the stewardship. His younger brother, Sir John Stewart of Jedburgh, married the heir to the barony of Bunkle in Berwickshire and was ancestor of the Stewarts of Bunkle.

James Stewart's younger son was Sir Walter Stewart (c.1296-1327), who commanded one of the four Scottish brigades at Bannockburn in 1314, after which battle he was knighted. A year later Walter was given the eldest child of Robert I (Robert the Bruce), Marjorie Bruce (c.1296-1316), in marriage. In December 1318 Walter was present in parliament when the succession to the throne was entailed upon his son Robert (born probably on 2 March 1316), failing male heirs of Robert I's body. When Robert I's son, David II, having reigned for over half a century and been married twice, died childless in 1371, Robert Stewart duly succeeded, as King Robert II.

The Anglo-Stewards, 1400 to 1500
Continuing Steward story in England (still from the E.S. Steward / Givens account):

John Steward (5), son of the first Sir John, was knighted in 1420 by King Henry V, and was given a gilt cup by Queen Catherine at her coronation. {Note the ODB seems to merge the two Johns, which is correct?}

Thomas Steward (6), son of the second Sir John, settled at Swaffham, Norfolk, and became a famous mariner. He died in 1470.

Richard Steward (7), son of Thomas, married a daughter of John Boreley.

The Norfolk Stewards, 1500 to 1700
Nicholas Steward (8), the son of Richard (7), married Cecilia, daughter of John Baskerville, and died in 1520. He is referred to variously as Nicholas Steward of Wells, of Outwell, and of Upwell. They had at least 4 sons:
                   
S8 Nicholas Steward
( -1520)
=
Cecelia Baskerville
 
 
S9 Robert Steward
( -1557)
Nicholas Steward
( - )
=
Elizabeth Lucas
Richard Steward
(1467- )
=
Elizabeth Cossyn (or Coslyn)
Simon Steward
( -1568)
=
? Bestney (see footnote 7)
From the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ref 2):

"The family was convinced that they descended from the Stewart royal house, via Sir John Steward, the so-called Scotangle, who moved to England in the service of Henry V. In 1511 the heralds prepared a full, if questionable, genealogy for them, and this became a document of obsessive importance for the family."

From Gourvish's book (ref 1), it seems likely that this Nicholas was the ancestor of the Great Yarmouth Stewards. It is of course possible that the Yarmouth Stewards were repeating history and claiming this connection for similar reasons to Nicholas's claim of the connection to the Scottish Royal family.

Robert Steward ( -1557) (9)
Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral
Robert (the third son?) was educated at Cambridge and became a Benedictine Monk at Ely, taking as his religious name his birthplace of Wells. He was elected Prior in 1522, an apparently rapid promotion having only graduated BA in 1517 and MA in 1520.

As the Prior of Ely monastery, Robert must have recognized the winds of change (probably due to an association with Thomas Cromwell) and so supported Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. He had earlier supported the validity of Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon (1533).

DEANS OF ELY

Robert Steward or Welles (fn. 1) M.A. 1541-1557.

Apptd. by king in foundation charter 10 Sept. 1541 (L. & P. XVI no. 1226 (11); Bentham, Ely app. p. 40). D. 22 Sept. 1557 (m.i., Ely cath.) (Bentham, Ely II 227).

fn1:
Formerly prior of Ely (L. & P. XVI no. 1226 (11)).

From British History Online: Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: volume 7, pp 10-2

As a result he was appointed the first Dean after Ely was refounded as a Cathedral in 1541.

As discussed earlier Robert was obsessed with the idea that the Steward family descended from the Scottish royal family of Stewart and he incorporated a copy of the family history with the continuation of the Historia Eliensis, the history of the see, abbey, and priory of Ely, which he undertook as prior and dean.

Finding a copy of the Historia Eliensis may resolve some of the questions raised here.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ref 2) has this to say about Robert:

"Steward [name in religion Wells], Robert (d. 1557), prior and dean of Ely, was born at Wells next the Sea, Norfolk. His father was Nicholas Steward, a lawyer of the Middle Temple, from an established Norfolk family of minor gentry; his mother was Cicely, daughter of John Baskerville. The family was convinced that they descended from the Stewart royal house, via Sir John Steward, the so-called Scotangle, who moved to England in the service of Henry V. In 1511 the heralds prepared a full, if questionable, genealogy for them, and this became a document of obsessive importance for the family. Robert was clearly proud of this descent: he incorporated a copy with the continuation of the Historia Eliensis, the history of the see, abbey, and priory of Ely, which he undertook as prior and dean. One of Robert's brothers, Simeon, settled at Lakenheath; another, Nicholas, moved to Ely; both established dynasties which played major roles in the affairs of the see and cathedral.

Robert Steward became a Benedictine monk at Ely, and took his birthplace as his surname in religion. He studied at Cambridge. It has been suggested that he was the pensioner of Gonville Hall who took his BA in 1517 and his MA in 1520. Surviving documentation, however, consistently refers to him simply as clerk without further title. He was elected prior of Ely in 1522, and in the 1520s served in predictable roles in convocation and as a clerical tax collector for the crown. The only evidence of his views on the crisis of the 1530s is his affirmation of the validity of Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon in the convocation of 1533. Thereafter he must have accepted the change of religion (as he did all the subsequent changes from then until his death), since Thomas Goodrich, who succeeded the conservative Nicholas West as bishop of Ely in 1534, thought sufficiently highly of him to recommend him to the crown as a possible suffragan bishop of Colchester in 1536. However, the other nominee, William More, was promoted, probably because he was steward to Lord Chancellor Audley. Ely Priory was surrendered to the crown on 18 November 1539, and was refounded as a cathedral with dean and chapter on 10 September 1541. Wells became the first dean, converting his monastic pension of £120 into stipend, and resuming his family surname. Evidence for his management of the priory estate is fragmentary, but he does not seem to have been as ruthless in dispensing long leases and dispersing property as some former monastic heads of house. However, as dean he ensured that his family prospered: there were leases of Lakenheath Manor to Simeon and of the rectory of Ely to Nicholas and his son William. William's relationship by marriage with Bishop Goodrich also helped to secure advantageous episcopal leases. But most of the profit of the Stewards seems to have derived from office holding: they were auditors, coroners, and stewards to both chapter and bishop.

Robert Steward died in Ely on 22 September 1557 and was buried in Ely Cathedral. He had taken a number of the priory's manuscripts into his safe keeping at the dissolution and retained them under the provisions of the Henrician charter. These Ely manuscripts now survive in the British Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and Lambeth Palace Library, and include several copies of the Liber Eliensis, the chronicle of the priory and see. The dean's close personal interest in these records is suggested by his rebinding of the texts, as well as by his own work on the continuation of the chronicle. His judgements on the sixteenth-century bishops whom he had known are sympathetic, but not uncritical. Steward's own best memorial is the comment of Henry Wharton who prints his chronicle and genealogy: without his labours the unique Historia might have been lost.

Nicholas Steward (9)
           
S9 Nicholas Steward
( - )
=
Elizabeth Lucas
 
S10 William Steward
( - )
=
??
 
 
S11 Sir Thomas Steward
( - )
=
Bridget Poole
Elizabeth Steward
( - )
= 1591
Robert Cromwell
( - )
 
S12 no issue Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) and ?? others
Nicholas (9) received in 1548 a lease of the rectory of Ely from his brother, the dean. His son William (10) was also buried in Ely cathedral, he had the lease of Ely Rectory renewed to him in 1665. William was the father of Sir Thomas Steward(11) of Cambridge, who married Bridget, daughter of John Poole of Cheshire, and was knighted by King James VI in 1604; Elizabeth Steward (11), sister of Sir Thomas, was the mother of Oliver Cromwell.
From the book "The King and the Gentleman" (ref 5) (Robert Cromwell was Oliver Cromwell's father):

"......Robert [Cromwell], the brother who had come into the world little more than a year after the first-born, began his married life on about £300 a year, which meant that he was comfortably off by the standards of the day, but by no means wealthy. He had gone through Queens' and Lincoln's Inn with his elder brother, then returned home and begun casting around for a marriage that would bring him more property and enable him to boost his income.

The woman he had found came from a family whose connections with the Cromwells extended back over several decades. When Sir Richard [Williams/Cromwell, knighted in 1537, married to Frances Murfyn of London] had reported in 1537 to Mr. Secretary [Thomas, later Earl of Essex] Cromwell that the Prior of Ely was 'forward' [progressive, or nationalistic in disputes with Papal authority in such matters as divorce] in outlook he had been referring to Robert Styward (or Steward) alias Wells, a pliant religious who supported the King's spoliation of the Church and was rewarded by being appointed Dean of Ely after the secularization of the monastic foundation.

Steward, who obligingly amended his religious opinions on the accession of Queen Mary, ensured that his family did well out of the Dissolution: they had a grant of former monastic lands and Robert's elder brother became hereditary steward of the cathedral's remaining properties. By the end of the sixteenth century these lucrative responsibilities had devolved upon Sir Thomas Steward who, trading upon the similarity of his name to that of the prospective heir to the throne traced a connection with the royal house of Scotland.

It was Elizabeth, niece of this Thomas Steward, whom Robert [Williams/Cromwell] married about 1591. She was already the widow of a certain John Lynne of Bassingbourn, near Cambridge, and brought to her second marriage a jointure of some sixty pounds a year......"

Richard Steward (9)
Richard married Elizabeth Cossyn (or Comyn), his family seems to have been:
                   
S9 Richard Steward
( - )
=
Elizabeth Cossyn/Comyn
 
 
S10 Jeffery Steward Richard Steward Thomas Steward William Steward
Note that many web-sites erroneously say that Richard was the father, rather than brother, of Nicholas.
Simon Steward (9)
 
S9 Simon Steward
( -1568)
=
? Bestney
 
   
S10 Edward Steward ( - 1598)
Robert Steward ( - 1571)
Nicholas Steward
see note below
Sir Mark Steward (3rd son)
(c.1525-1604)
=
Anne Huicke
Thomas Steward (5th son)
( - )
=
?
Simon(9), lived at Stuntney, Cambridge, which he received for Knight's service from King Edward VI, and died in 1568.

His third son, MARK (10) STEWARD, was knighted in 1603, when 79 years old, by King James VI: he died the following November and was buried in Ely cathedral. Mark was the father of Sir Simon (11) (or Simeon) Steward (see below), who wrote a graceful poem called THE FAEREY KING, and was knighted with his father in 1603.

From the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ref 2):

Steward, Sir Simeon (1579/80?-1629?), poet, was the surviving son of Mark Steward (c.1525–1604) of Stuntney, Cambridgeshire, and his wife, Anne, daughter of the royal physician Robert Huicke. His father married late in life, in or after 1575, and was knighted at Whitehall, with his son, by King James on 23 July 1603. Sir Simeon proved his father's will and erected an elaborate monument to him in Ely Cathedral, whose inscription fancifully traces the family's Scottish origins.

Steward was probably admitted to Gray's Inn on 29 January 1593, and on 13 April 1597 he married Grace (b. c.1579), daughter of Edward St Barbe of Ashington, Somerset, at St Olave, Hart Street, London, ‘in the la: walsinghames house’. Their son Robert was born c.1599. According to Fuller, Steward lived at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, as a fellow-commoner following his knighthood, but the coat of arms displayed in his chamber, recorded as extant in 1730, had been lost without trace by 1886.

Steward's political career was controversial. Elected MP for Shaftesbury, Dorset, in 1614, he was the subject (with his second cousin Sir Thomas) of a quarrelsome petition in November 1619. With Edward Peyton he was returned for Cambridgeshire in January 1624, but the election was declared void upon petition, Steward having persuaded the under sheriff to ignore the vociferous support for their rival, John Cuts, who then replaced Steward as MP........

THOMAS (10) STEWARD, fifth son of the first Simon, settled at Mildenhall, Suffolk. He was the father of Thomas Steward (11) of Barton Mills, Suffolk, and SIMON(11) STEWARD who settled at Mobberley, Cheshire and died in 1651 at Mobberley, leaving a widow Margery and children Simon, James, John, Henry, Margaret, and Elizabeth and Mary.

From British History Online, A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 4, pages: 47-50

The hamlet of STUNTNEY, in the former Holy Trinity parish, was appendant to Ely long before 1087, when it was recorded as a berewick. It was given to the secular clerks of Ely by Wolstan de Delham, in King Edgar's reign. The eel-fishery was always highly valued, as was the strategic importance of Stuntney, a major entrance to the Isle. The upkeep of this passage was a constant care of the monastery. On the creation of the see, Stuntney was granted to the priory and was appropriated to the cellarer's office. Later it was transferred to the sacrist. Stuntney was farmed, in 1527, by Edward Bestney of Soham, who did a considerable amount of inclosing. In 1540 the manor was granted by the Crown to Sir Edward North; thenceforward it held its own courts. Bestney's daughter and heiress married Simon Steward, brother of the first Dean of Ely; hence Stuntney passed to the Steward family. Edward, son of Simon, held the manor on a sevenyear lease in 1548; subsequently Sir Mark Steward settled there (see footnote). Oliver Cromwell inherited the estate in 1636. The manor passed out of the family's ownership in 1723 and repeatedly changed hands later.

footnote..

Probably Edward's brother, as he was also a nephew of the first Dean. Simon Steward was great-uncle of Oliver Cromwell (Cambs. and Hunts. Arch. Soc. Trans. v, 369-84). The Stuards, or Stewards, were descendants of a Scots family of Stewards of Dundevale. Dr. Steward was last prior and first dean of Ely. The family continued to live in the neighbourhood until mid-18th century (Bentham, Ely, 2nd ed., 190).

From British History Online, A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 4, pages: 136-40

SOUTH WITHCHFORD HUNDRED, COVENEY WITH MANEA

.... Lord Scrope passed Coveney in 1562 to his kinsman Ralph Scrope of the Vine (Hants), who the following year sold it to Symeon Steward, his son Robert, and their heirs. Robert (d. 1571) made a very complicated entail of his manors on about a dozen of his relatives, of whom his brothers Mark, Thomas, and Nicholas were still alive at the death (1598) of their elder brother Edward, who had had the remainder next after Joan, Symeon's relict. Each of the manors, including Coveney, seems to have been divided between the three brothers. Mark passed his third to Thomas Jermy and his wife Joan, Edward Steward's daughter and heir, after a lawsuit regarding the entail and devolution of the manor. It appears, however, that Coveney manor was afterwards reunited under Sir Simon, Mark's son, who was dealing with it in 1604. Thomas Steward, Sir Simon's grandson and the last of the line, passed it to Thomas Allen in 1649.

1500 to 1963
The Stewards connection with Ely continued into the 17th C. as this extract from the House of Commons Journal Volume 3, 16 October 1644 (the Hansard of the day) shows:
Steward's Tenants.

Whereas this honourable House, by an Order of the Fifth of September, 1643, protected Wm. Steward Gentleman, from all Suits and Arrests; in regard that the greatest Part of his Estate (being Money) then was, and now is, in the Parliament's Hands; under Colour whereof, the Tenants of the said Mr. Steward refuse to pay him the Rents of his Lands due unto him, supposing his Estate to be in the Parliament's disposing: And for that the said Mr. Steward is now Tenant to the Parliament, as he was before to the Dean and Chapter of Ely: And being to pay great Rents for the same, which he cannot, unless the Rents be paid by the Tenants: It is therefore this Day Ordered, by the Commons assembled in Parliament (the said Mr. Steward being destitute of Means to recover his Right, or maintain himself,) That all the said Tenants forthwith, upon Demand, give present Satisfaction unto the said Mr. Steward, or whom he shall appoint, for his said Rents in Arrear, due, or to be from henceforth due.

This also further confirms my impression that the Stewards were longtime supporters of Cromwell.

Unfortunately at this stage it is still not known how, or indeed if, the Great Yarmouth and the Wells Stewards are connected. There is therefore a gap of some 200 years to when the story continues in about 1700 in Great Yarmouth, when Timothy Steward, claiming descent from Nicholas of Wells, moved there from Wells-next-the-Sea.

Notes & References
  1. "Norfolk Beers from English Barley - A History of Steward and Patteson 1793-1963" by Terry Gourvish, Centre of East Anglian Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich, 1987.
  2. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Copyright © Oxford University Press 2004–5
  3. Great Yarmouth History, including the original and a modern updated version of "The Perlustration of Great Yarmouth" (Great Yarmouth 1872) by C.J. Palmer. (Site of Mark Rumble)
  4. Sepulchral reminiscences of a Market Town ... Gravestone inscriptions at St Nicholas, Great Yarmouth, 1845. Google Books
  5. "The Steward Pedigree Book", lent to Mr Gourvish by the late Donald Steward.
  6. "The King and the Gentleman: Charles Stuart and Oliver Cromwell, 1599-1649", St Martins Press, by Derek A. Wilson
  7. The Origin of the Stywarde Family Arms.
    MS British Library Cotton Julius A. i.
    ARTICLE: Planta's art. 1
    FOLIATION: f. 2v (Planta's 1v)

    CONTENT:

    The origin of the Stywarde family arms.

    Drawing of an armed knight, wearing mail and a helm, holding up in both hands a tree trunk with which he is preparing to strike a lion rampant. The knight's surcoat has the arms: a fess checky.
    The broken pieces of a sword lie under the knight's feet. From the upper left hand corner descends a hand holding a shield displaying the knight's arms; the descending hand's arm is under a sleeve decorated with fleurs de lys, and fleurs de lys also decorate the border that frames the whole scene.
    The inscription below is largely lost and it is only possible to read: "...corum cum hac Figura picta incoloribus facta ...ward qui Londoniis modo ...de Ramsey." The words "...ward" and "de" are as copied by Francis Douce (d. 1834) in his copy of Planta's Catalogue (now in the Bodleian Library, Douce P. subt. 33).
    The drawing illustrates the incident in which the Stewart family allegedly gained the arms of argent a lion gules debruised by a ragged staff, when Andrew Stewart slew the lion of Balliol with a ragged staff and in return received from Charles VI, king of France, the right to bear the lion and staff as an augmentation of honour on the Stewart arms. This claim seems first to have been made by Robert Steward, the last prior and first dean of Ely (d. 1557), and to have been allowed in a grant of arms to him by Thomas Wriothesley, Garter king of arms, 14 Sept. 1520 (transcribed in BL, Add. MS 15644, f. 2r-v).

    DATING:

    The knight's armour would suggest a mid 13th-century date; but the lettering below is in the style of a later date. Presumably this version of the scene was executed in the 16th century.

    COPIES:

    * Other versions of the same picture are in e.g. Augustine Stywarde's cartulary, BL Add. MS
    * 15644, ff. 60v and 72r (c. 1567), a Stewart pedigree-roll, partly dated 1557, that in 1829 belonged to Nathaniel Lee-Acton of Bramford Hall, near Ipswich (engraved in Archaeologia, xxiii, p. 388), and in a late 16th-century stained glass window (engraved as the frontispiece to Round's Studies in Peerage and Family History).

    LITERATURE:

    * F. Martin, "Origin of the Tressure of Scotland", Archaeologia, xxiii (1831), pp. 387-92.
    * W. Rye, "Oliver Cromwell's Descent from the Stewart Family", Genealogist, n.s. i (1884), pp. 150-7.
    * J.H. Round, Studies in Peerage and Family History (Westminster, 1901), pp. 133-44. H. Steward, "Cromwell's Stuart Ancestry", Proc., Cambridge Antiquarian Soc., xxvii (1926, for 1924-5), pp. 86-122, at 90-1, 112-16.
    * C.E. Wright, Fontes Harleiani ... (London: British Museum, 1972), pp. 315-16, sub nom. Steward.
    * British Heraldry, from its Origins to c. 1800, comp. and ed. R. Marks and Ann Payne, exhibn. cat. (London: British Museum and British Library, 1978), p. 91, no. 143

    AUTHOR: Dr Nigel Ramsay
    DATE: 22-7-98
    SORTCODE: A-COTJUL-A1p1

  8. References to the Stewards in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 4, show that the family was very influential in the mid 17th C. (British History Online):
    Two other cases brought before the Commissioners merit notice: they relate to the Steward family. The bishop's bailiff had evidently inclosed parts of the Barton manor (q.v.) in the late 15th century, using them for pasture. These included the 'Tylekyln close' and the 'Gravell Pytte close'. Nicholas Steward took over the lease in the 16th century, having 206 acres of arable, about 155 acres of pasture and an inclosure of 32 acres. He was interested in sheep, and added to his farm by attaching a part of the djoining common of Cawdle Fen and by encroaching on the highway. For this last offence he had been 'divers times amercyed in the lord's courte, but it is thought his fine has been pardoned and soo no redress is had'. Symon Steward was a still more sinister figure. When he bought Stuntney manor (q.v.), part of its 130 acres had already been inclosed for pasture by his predecessor. He himself closed one highway, and his son Edward another one, which the tenants had used to gather their crops from Bury Fen. Moreover, the Commissioners found that whereas formerly 500 sheep, belonging to inhabitants and tenant, had found pasture, now 600 were fed, but that the tenants owned few or none of them. Steward permitted his sheep to trespass on the neighbouring common, but allowed no other sheep to use it-'to worry the tenants so that they shall be constrained to sell their copyholds that he may have the whole township in his own occupying'.
    The farm-buildings of the bishop's manor called ELY BARTON manor opened upon Back Hill, in 1416: its fields extended westward. The bishop's vineyard lay on the eastern side of the city, approached from the market-place. In the built-up areas, by 1416, the city properties of bishop and prior were much intermingled. Ely Barton was known in later centuries as the 'paramount manor', and must have held pride of place from the outset. The extensive wastes appurtenant to the manor were claimed exclusively by the bishop, save where intercommoning rights of neighbouring townships had to be respected. Such sections of the waste as were enjoyed by the prior were granted, from time to time, by the bishop, except such rights as already pertained to Stuntney and the monastic demesne farms. Barton farm was held on lease by the bishop's bailiff in the 15th century. At the Dissolution Nicholas Steward leased the manor. It was sold to Richard Cromwell, the Protector's son, at the close of the Civil War, but later returned into episcopal hands and was henceforward granted on lease.
    The hamlet of STUNTNEY, in the former Holy Trinity parish, was appendant to Ely long before 1087, when it was recorded as a berewick. It was given to the secular clerks of Ely by Wolstan de Delham, in King Edgar's reign. The eel-fishery was always highly valued, as was the strategic importance of Stuntney, a major entrance to the Isle. The upkeep of this passage was a constant care of the monastery. On the creation of the see, Stuntney was granted to the priory and was appropriated to the cellarer's office. Later it was transferred to the sacrist. Stuntney was farmed, in 1527, by Edward Bestney of Soham, who did a considerable amount of inclosing. In 1540 the manor was granted by the Crown to Sir Edward North; thenceforward it held its own courts. Bestney's daughter and heiress married Simon Steward, brother of the first Dean of Ely; hence Stuntney passed to the Steward family. Edward, son of Simon, held the manor on a sevenyear lease in 1548; subsequently Sir Mark Steward settled there. Oliver Cromwell inherited the estate in 1636. The manor passed out of the family's ownership in 1723 and repeatedly changed hands later.
    The manor of JACKETTS may be traced back to the lands of that name for which John Cave owed suit at Wisbech Hundred court in 1492-3. By 1542 it was in possession of the Megges family, who were tenants of a good deal of Ely property including the bishop's manor of Wisbech Barton; in that year Thomas Megges died seised of it, his son Nicholas being heir. The next recorded owner is Henry Adams of Tydd St. Mary, who bequeathed it to his brother Thomas, of Duxford, in 1587. No connexion can be traced between this family and the Meggeses, or with the Steward family, into whose possession it had come in 1635. In this year William Steward died seised of it, bequeathing it in default of male heirs to his brother Thomas. It was then held of the bishop as of his manor of Wisbech Barton. Thomas and his son of the same name were dealing with it 12 years later. The manor is again recorded in 1668. The name survived in 1777 as that of a piece of land of about 19 acres in Sayers Field, on the north side of the village street of St. Mary's near the old Primitive Methodist chapel.
    The Haustede estate is not entered in the lists of fees of 1303, 1346, or 1428. It was situated in BROKENE, on the north-west side of Elm towards Wisbech. In 1470 it reappears, as a manor of Brokene, in the hands of the Colvile family of Newton (q.v.). It was again assessed at ½ fee and was valued at £5 6s. 8d. It had been settled by Sir John Colvile, son of the founder of the Newton chantry, on himself and his wife Anne for their lives. Anne subsequently married Sir Robert Brandon, and outlived her son Francis Colvile. At her death in 1494 Brandon forcibly excluded Richard Colvile, Francis's son, then aged 14, from his lands. Richard proved his age in due course and the manor, under the name HALSTED, remained in the family another hundred years, until it was sold (1591) by Francis Colvile to William Hynd. Hynd died without issue in 1606; after which the manor seems to have come to William Steward of Ely, whose son-in-law, Francis Lord Aungier, died in possession in 1632. He left his Cambridgeshire estates to his fourth son George, who was living in 1635. In the early 18th century Halsted manor was held by three sisters, wives of Rupert Elcie, Richard Dent, and Thomas Briscoe; it is not recorded after 1720.
    At the Dissolution the parsonage [of St Mary's] and emoluments of both churches were granted to the dean and chapter, whose custom it was to appoint prebendaries or minor canons to the two curacies. In 1929 the benefices were united under one incumbent. The rectory and tithes of the two parishes were frequently leased. The most famous lessees were the Stewards, who acquired the rectory of Ely, in addition to Stuntney manor (q.v.), in the 16th century. Oliver Cromwell inherited the property, on the death of his uncle, Sir Thomas Steward, in 1636.
    Outwell was probably the birthplace of Robert Wells or Steward (d. 1557), the last Prior and first Dean of Ely. Source: 'Wells in Norfolk' (D.N.B.). His father Nicholas was of Outwell and his brother Richard of Upwell (Blomefield, Hist. Norf. vii, 384, viii, 222; Genealogist, N.S. ii, 36–37). The Steward family were prominent landowners in the Isle in postReformation times. Robert must have taken the name of his birthplace as his name in religion on entering Ely Priory.
    The House [Ely Cathedral] was surrendered to the king on 18 November 1539. The New Foundation consisted of a dean, 8 prebendaries, 8 minor canons, deacon and sub-deacon, 24 scholars, 2 schoolmasters, an organist, and various singing men and boys; the prior Robert Wells or Steward became dean; the Almonry School was refounded as the 'Kings School' and still continues.
  9. CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF THE HOLY AND UNDIVIDED TRINITY, ELY

    (British History Online):

    Ely Cathedral (238K)

                    KEY TO THE PLAN
                    1. Bishop Moore (1707-14).
                    2, 3. Brass indents.
                    4. Bishop Allen (1836-45) (monument).
                    5. Bishop Butts (1738-48).
                    6-8. Brass indents.
                    9. Sir Mark Steward (d. 1603).
                    10. Bishop Greene (1723-38).
                    11. Sir Robert Steward (d. 1570).
                    12. Dean Tyndall (1591-1614).
                    13. Brass indent.
                    14. Bishop Goodrich (1534-54).
                    15. Bishop Heton (1600-9).
                    16-20. Brass indents.
                    21. Robert Steward or Wells (Prior 1522-39, Dean 1541-57).
                    22. Bishop Gunning (1675-84) (grave slab).
                    23. Bishop Gunning (monument).
                    24. Bishop West (1515-33) (grave slab, removed from his chapel in 1885).
                    25. Canon Selwyn (d. 1879) (on site of entrance to Reliquary).26. Altar of Bishop West's Chapel.
                    27. Canon Mill (d. 1855).
                    28. Bishop Allen (1836-45) (grave slab).
                    29. Bishop Niel (1133-69).
                    30. Pre-Reformation chest.
                    31. Indent of brass of Bishop Gray (1454-78).
                    32. Indent of brass of Sir William Thorpe.
                    33. Bishop Laney (1667-75).
                    34. Bishop Mawson (1754-71).
                    35. Bishop Patrick (1691-1707).
                    36. Bishop Chase (1905-24).
                    37. Brass of George Basevi (d. 1845); early medieval grave slab.
                    38. Canon Fleetwood (d. 1737).
                    39. Bishop Fleetwood (1714-23); grave slab of Thomas Stuart (d. 1744) on floor below.
                    40. Dean Caesar or Adelmare (1614-36).
                    41. Brass indent, probably Prior Walsingham (1341-64).
                    42. Bishop Hotham (1316-37) (restored brass).
                    43. Prior Crauden (1321-41) (restored brass).
                    44. Bishop Kilkenny (1254-7) (heart burial).
                    45. Bishop Barnet (1366-74).
                    46. ? Private Pew of Queen Philippa, enclosing fragments of Shrine of St. Etheldreda (formerly at 39).
                    47. John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester (d. 1470) and two of his wives (cenotaph).
                    48. Bishop Northwold (1229-54).
                    49. Tomb of Bishop Hotham (1316-37) (removed from 42).
                    
  10. This extract from an act of parliament in 1661, shows that the Stewards survived the Interregnum, possibly unscathed (British History Online):

    Charles II, 1661
    An Act for granting unto the Kings Majestie twelve hundred and threescore thousand pounds to bee assessed and levied by an assessment of threescore and ten thousand pounds by the moneth for eighteene moneths.

    Commissioners named.
    And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that all and every the persons hereafter named shall be Commissioners of and for the severall and respective Counties Cityes Boroughs Townes and Places hereafter named that is to say...

    For the Isle of Ely ... Thomas Steward, Robert Steward ....

    For the County of Norfolk ... Robert Steward ...

    For the Burrough of Kings Linn The Maior [sic] for the time being Robert Steward ...

    For the County of Northampton ... Nicholas Steward ...