Stedman Family Organization



Family History and Genealogy Research



Early British History of the Stedman Family





Adapted from: "Barton and Stedman also Steedman and Steadman Families"
by Joseph Earle Steadman (pp.9-13)



The Stedman family has origins in England that pre-date the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Origin of the Stedman Surname

Surnames were not in use in England before William the Conqueror in 1066. Soon after he ascended to the throne, he ordered adoption of surnames by all members of the upper classes of people. The adoption of surnames by members of the lower classes was not permitted until some centuries later.

Surnames were adopted from two principal sources, namely:
  1. The name of the town, city estate, or domain where the adopter lived. For example, Reginaldus de Steddanham, meaning Reginaldus of Steddanham. In 1259 his wife Christiana made a settlement relating to property in County Sussex, England. - (Excerpta Roterlis Finium in Tuni Londonensis - Asservatis Henrico Tertio Rege, Vol. II, p. 291.) See later.
  2. The occupation in which the adopter was engaged. For example, John le Stedman, meaning John the sted/stead man (a farmer or a yeoman who owned a small farm). In 1284 he delivered wool to the collectors of wool in County Gloucester, England. -- (Ancient Deeds, Patent Rolls, or State Papers of England.)
(Note the words de and le for differentiation.)

The surname Stedman is of Saxon origin, and it seems to have originated from the first source.

The derivation of Stedman from Steddanham follows a familiar pattern where "(n)ham" (meaning home) was converted to "man".
  • Deadman from Debenham
  • Parman from Parnham
  • Putman from Putterham
  • Swetman from Swettemham
  • Highman from Highnam
  • Downman from Downham
  • Lyman from Lineham
Bardeley (Dictionary of English and Welsh Names, page 11.)  states: "It is interesting to observe the various meanings of man as a suffix -- man for nham in local surnames. Indeed it is a fairly large class. Instances will be found scattered over the country."

Evidently the change in the suffix grew out of early confusion of the Anglo-Saxon (n)ham (meaning home) with the Norman-French homme (meaning man), which words have a very similar sound when quickly pronounced. This is illustrated by the English Pridham which was confused with the French prudhomme (a wise or prudent man) and became Pridman; and by the English Bonham which was confused with the French bonhomme (meaning a good man) and became Goodman. In all of the original forms mentioned herein the letter h was silent. Steddanham, for example, was pronounced as though the spelling were Stednam. Thus it was natural and expected that Steddanham became Stedman.

      References for comparison:

      English Surnames. -- By Lower.
      Family Names. -- By Gentry.
      Surnames. -- By Anderson.
      Surnames of the United Kingdom. -- By Harrison.
      Surnames: Their Origin and Nationality. -- By McKenna.
      The Names We Bear. -- By Long.



Steddanham was located in County Sussex in England and is now called Stedham. The name is derived from Stedda (name of a Saxon thane or baron) and ham (home; an estate inclusive of land and a village, together with a manor and it appurtenant buildings). Steddan is the possessive form of Stedda and together they mean "Stedda's home" - Steddanham.

Prior to the year 960, Steddanham was possessed by the Saxon noble Wulfric. At some time during the short and troubled reigns (940-960) of four English Kings - Edmund, Edred, Edwy, and Edgar I - Wulfric forfeited the estate, apparently because of having displeased one or another of those kings. However, in 960 King Edgar I restored it to Wulfric by charter.

Wulfnoth, Baron of Sussex and a naval commander, was next in possession of Steddanham. In 1009 he was engaged in some political misconduct which caused King Ethelred II to confiscate the estate, and it remained in the possession of the crown until the king died in 1016. In the latter year, Prince Ethelstan succeeded in possession of Steddenham, and, when he died in 1020, he left the estate by will to Godwin, a son of Wulfnoth.

In 1018, Godwin (990-15 April 1053) was created as Earl of Wessex by King Canute of England. Godwin was a noted statesman, and, next to the King, he was the most powerful man in England. In 1019, he married Gytha (daughter of Thorgil Sprakaleg and sister of Ulf the Danish Earl), who was a niece of King Canute. They were the parents of six sons (Swegen, Harold, Tostig, Gyrth, Leofwine, and Wulfnoth) and three daughters (Eadgyth, Gunhild, and Aelgifu).

In 1053, Steddanham descended to the possession of Harold (1022-1066), the second son of Godwin. He was Earl of East Angles in 1045, and became Earl of Wessex after the death of his father. In 1066, he was elected to succeed Edward the Confessor as King of England. The election was challenged by William, Duke of Normandy (later called William the Conqueror); and the opponents, with their armies, met in battle at Hastings (in County Sussex, England). Harold was defeated and slain.

At the time of his death, Harold was the husband of two living wives, a danish wife (so called because of a Danish custom then prevailing in England) and a principal wife who was recognized as the queen. The danish wife Eddiva (or Edith, thought to be Eadgyth Swanneshals who was remarkable for her beauty), together with her sons Godwin, Eadmund, and Magnus, and her daughters Gytha and Gunhild, was settled in the Steddanham estate. The principal wife (or queen), together with her twin sons Harold and Wulf (born after the death of their father), was settled on another estate that King Harold inherited from his father. Following the defeat and death of Harold, both of these estates were confiscated by William the Conqueror and given, one each, to two of his followers.

In the year 1086, the name of the Steddanham estate was changed to Stedeham, which in 1308 evolved into Stedham, as it is today. Stedham is a parish and village in County Sussex. In 1831 the parish included 2481 acres of land. The family seats established therein were Stedham, Stedham Hall, Rotherhill, Wispers, Ash, and Tentworth.

References (in Library of Congress, Washington, DC)

    Murray, A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, Vols. V & VI
    Elwess and Robinson, Castles and Mansions of Western Sussex
    Chronicon Monasterii De Abingdom, Vol. I
    Horsfield, County of Sussex
    Dallaway, County of Sussex, Vol. I
    Domesday Book of Sussex, XV 35, pp. 61-62
    Bartholomew, Gazeteer of the British Isles, 1887
    M. A. Lower, History of Sussex, Vol. II, p. 175
    History of County Sussex, Vol. I
    The Great Roll of the Pipe (1 Richard I, 1187-1190)
    Freeman, The Norman Conquest, Vol. V, 1876
    The Place Names of Sussex, Vol, VI, part 1, p. 20
The adoption of Steddanham as a surname would have occurred during the period of 960 to 1086 when the estate was known and recorded by that name and the use of surnames was restricted to the upper classes. The change to Stedman occurred about the year 1191. Burke in The General Armory speaks of "the ancient and illustrious family of Stedman known in England since 1191." Nicolas in Counties and County Names in Wales shows the ancestry of a Welsh branch of the Stedman family traced back to that year and the first bearer of the surname.

After 1086, another family that was connected to the Steddanham estate adopted the name Stedeham (as the name had evolved to by that time), as in Simon de Stedeham. Their surname evolved over time to Stedham.

This Stedham family has no relation to the Swedish Stedham family descended from Dr. Timmen/Tyman/Timothy Stidden. (He was a Swede who emigrated to Delaware.) That surname is incorrectly spelled Stiddem in a deed given him by an English official in 1671. He, his children, and their descendants thereafter became known as Stidham, or a variant such as: Steadham, Stedham, Steddom, Steedham, etc.


Early History of the Stedman Family

The Dale Castle Manuscript and data obtained from other sources furnish information concerning the early history of the Stedman family. Dale Castle was a forfeited house in the Parish of Dale, County Pembroke, Wales. The known circumstances and events associated with the first bearer of the surname indicate that he and his father were members of the upper class of people, and that his Stedman surname basically was derived from the estate of Steddanham in County Sussex, England. The herein account of the said first bearer and his father is based on this premise.

At some time prior to 1182, ____ de Steddanham, an English nobleman, went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He remained there, established a domain for himself - which he called the "Duchy (Dukedom) of Arabia," and assumed the title "Duke of Arabia." He apparently was a man of hasty and driving action, so much so that he became known by the nickname "Calcarba, or Calcarbus" (derived from the word calcar, meaning a spur). Hence, "Calcarba, or Calcarbus, Duke of Arabia."

During the early crusades to the Holy Land, "the moment a city was captured by the crusaders, a dispute arose as to whom it should belong. At length the different leaders separated, each to fight on his own account and to gain a kingdom for himself." -- (S. J. Goodrich, History of All Nations, Vol. II, p. 863.) Another author states that some of the crusaders and pilgrims carved out a territory over which they set up themselves with assumed titles of nobility. In the year 1182, Saladin (Sultan of Egypt and Syria), an opposer of the crusades, began conquest of the Holy Land to recover it to the Saracens (Mohammedans). Calcarba's domain lay in the path of Saladin's operations, and he and his children John and Clarissa) fled towards Jerusalem. Calcarba died before reaching Jerusalem, and John went on to the city. Nothing further is said concerning Clarissa.

John de Steddanham, son of Calcarba, Duke of Arabia, remained in Jerusalem and assisted in its defense until it fell to Saladin in 1187. He, evidently, then escaped to other parts of the Holy Land and assisted in the struggle against the Saracens. In 1191 he joined the forces of King Richard I (the Lion-hearted), who was then on the third crusade to the Holy Land, and assisted in the capture of Acre from the Saracens under Saladin.

It evidently was here that his surname underwent the change from de Steddanham to Stedman. He accompanied Richard on his successful campaign towards Jerusalem where, after a siege of the city, a truce was concluded with Saladin in 1192. The truce provided that the pilgrims should be free to visit the Holy Sepulchre, and that a designated part of the seacoast of the Holy Land should belong to the crusaders.

John Stedman, "being a gallant person and greatly esteemed by the King," was made a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre and had for arms:
    "A cross fleury Vert in a field Or."
The order of Knight of the Holy Sepulchre was founded in 1099 for the guardianship of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem and for the protection of pilgrims. The members were chosen only from pilgrims who were of the nobility. This fact attests the nobility of the family of which John was a member, and further attests that Calcarba and his children originally were pilgrims in the Holy Land. (Webster's New International Dictionary, page 1515, edition of 1915,--0rder of the Holy Sepulchre.)

In 1192, soon after signing the truce with Saladin, King Richard left the Holy Land on a ship bound for England, and John Stedman was among those who accompanied him. The ship was wrecked in the Adriatic Sea near the coast of Italy; and Richard, together with his companions, undertook to travel afoot from Italy to the west coast of the European continent nearest to England. While passing through Germany, he and his companions were seized and held as prisoners, because of an offense which Richard previously had given to the Duke of Austria. In 1194 the prisoners were ransomed, and they proceeded on their way to England.

According to a tradition published in the Church Times (16 February 1906) of the Angle-Catholic Church of England, John Stedman brought with him to England a chalice made from a portion of wood cut from the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Another story is that this chalice is the Holy Grail, or cup, from which Jesus and his disciples drank at the time of the last supper in Jerusalem. The chalice later became known variously as "The Tregaron Healing Cup", "The Strata Florida Cup," and "The Nant Eos Healing Cup." Numerous persons claimed to have been healed of their diseases by drinking water from the cup. After many generations its possession passed from the Stedman family of Strata Florida, in Wales, and, in 1933, it could be seen as a relic in an old-world mansion in the Welsh village of Nanteos. (The Daily Express, 23 January 1933). The reader hereof must make his or her own decision regarding the truth of the claims for this chalice or cup.

After John Stedman (a young and unmarried man) arrived in England as one of King Richard's knights, the king gave to him a gift of land and the gift of a wife, which latter was in accordance with the custom of kings to give wives to their unmarried knights.

The land given to John Stedman was situated in County Kent, England. It evidently was a stead (or estate) which consisted of woodlands, farmlands, and buildings pertaining thereto. In the Scotch and dialectal English languages, the word stead was written such ways as, sted, stede, steed, steid, and stid. John, being thus settled on a stead/sted, became known as John le Stedman. Subsequent spellings of the surname were: le Stedeman, Stedman, Steadman, Steedman, Steidman, or Stidman, and sometimes Studman, according to fancy of the bearer.

On 9 November 1931, the late Mr. Thomas Steedman of the Cottage, Fruix, Kinross, Scotland, who then was 81 years of age, stated the following in a letter addressed to Joseph Earle Steadman:
    "There is no rule for spelling names. Some people change the spelling of theirs because they think it too common; others because of a fad; the great majority because they are asses. There was an excuse for those in the 14th to 17th century. The bulk of them (at least in Scotland) could neither write nor read. That is the only excuse we can offer, but, fortunately, things are altogether different now. My cousin has changed to Stedman, for what reason no one knows. The family spelt it with two ee's for generations."
The wife given to John Stedman was Joan, daughter and heir of Sir John Tatteshall, Knight, who was a brother of Lord Robert Tatteshall and a descendant of Eudo (came to England with William the Conqueror and was granted the estate of Tatteshall in County Lincoln). Joan bore arms:
    "Chequy Or and Gules, a chief Ermine," which John Stedman impaled on the left half of the shield of his own arms.
The number of children born to John and Joan is not known to this writer. However, the blazonry on the banner of one of their sons indicates that he was their seventh son. A photograph of this banner was obtained by the Reverend Melvin Lee Steadman, Jr., from a source in England. It shows the following imprinted upon the banner:
    A shield, topped with an open-face knight's helmet (covered with mantling) and a lion rampant as the crest, all within an oval surrounded by seventeen couped leaves. The shield is quartered. The first and third quarters depict the arms (a cross fleury Vert in a field Or) of Sir John Stedman, the second quarter depicts the arms of his wife, and the fourth quarter depicts three roses as a mark of cadency indicating the seventh son of his parents. Two leafy branches beneath the shield, and the mantling on the helmet, are for ornamentation.
Marks of cadency are borne only during the lifetime of the son's father; therefore, it is evident that Sir John Stedman was living when the above-mentioned banner was made. The right to bear banners is confined to bannerets and persons of higher rank. (Burke, The General Armory, pp. XI, XX, and XXXIII.) The said banner perhaps was used in one of the crusades or wars occurring during the years 1228-1272.

During the course of a few generations the descendants of Sir John and Joan Stedman were scattered throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. The late Charles von Barton-Stedman (a Prussian nobleman whose paternal grandfather was a native of Scotland), being a painstaking genealogist of the Stedman family, in 1867 and 1868 stated: "It is not improbable that the Stedman family came to Scotland from Yorkshire, England, where they were among the oldest gentry." He further stated: "Their arms were granted, or altered, or augmented by Robert or David Bruce, although it cannot yet be proved, our records being mostly destroyed or carried off during the many disorders that happened in the Kingdom. . . The sprig of prickly holly might have been granted by Robert Bruce."

Patricius Stedman, a descendant of Sir John and Joan Stedman, is named in the heretofore mentioned Barton-Stedman Memoir as an ancestor of Charles Stedman the father of Susan who married Alexander Barton, son of Admiral Sir Andrew Barton, Knight. The line of descent (probably five or six generations) from Patricius is not shown in the memoir, but the claim of descent is recognized by the Herald's College in London, England. In 1979 the late Reverend Melvin Lee Steadman, Jr., reported having found mention of Patricius as being an admiral, and planned an attempt to "find the missing generations."

(The Reverend Mr. Steadman and late Joseph Earle Steadman were presumed to have a common ancestor in James Stedman/Steadman (1598-1686) of "Little Seggie," County Kinross, Scotland. Recent DNA evidence has disproved this.)

In 1369, payments totaling XXIII (23 pounds) were made to Patricius Steidman (or Patricis Stedman) of Edinburgh, this being done by mandate of King David II of Scotland to Simon de Prestoun, Vice-Count of Edinburgh. (Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 1359-1379). In Stoddart's Scottish Arms (Kings' and Nobility's Arms, 1370-1678), his name is shown as "Patrick Stedman."


Founding of the Stedman Family in Scotland

After a close study of English and Scottish records, it appeared to Joseph Earle Steadman that the line of descent from Calcarba, or Calcarbus, to Patricius Stedman probably is as follows:

1.  Calcarba de Steddanham ( ca. 1146 - 1187 )

2.  John Stedman-le Stedeman ( ca. 1171 - ? )

3.  John le Stedeman ( ca. 1196 - ? )
    John le Stedeman, Esquire, of County Kent, England. He married Anne Forster (daughter and heir of James Forster, Esquire, of County Berks, England) and settled in County Berks. He is mentioned as a progenitor of the Stedman family which settled in Wales. (Nicholas, Counties and County Families of Wales; Dunn, Heraldic Visitation of Wales, Vol. I).
4.  Roger le Stedeman ( ca. 1221 - ? )
    Roger le Stedeman of County Derby, England. A case between Henry de Mapletone and Roger le Stedeman of Easeborne (Ashborne) and Alice his wife, deforcients, was heard at Nottingham during the court term of 31 March - 21 April 1252. The case involved real estate situated in the village of Dale and claimed by both the plaintiff and the deforcients. (Journal of Derbyshire Archaeology and Natural History Society, Vol. 8).
5.   John le Stedeman ( ca. 1246 - ? )
    John le Stedman of Fulford, County York, England. In 1302 he was "assaulted and spoiled of goods"; and, in 1326, he was mentioned as the father of Thomas le Stedeman. The said assault and spoilage occurred during the period when the Scots were struggling to maintain their independence from the rule of Edward I, King of England, and when parties of Scotsmen were making occasional raids through the northern counties of England. It appears that John was sympathetic toward the cause of the Scots, and that the damage which he suffered was done by the English in retaliation against him because of some aid and encouragement which he had given to the Scots' raiding parties. (Ancient Deeds, Patent Rolls, or State Papers of England).
6.   Thomas le Stedeman ( ca. 1271 - ? )
    Thomas le Stedeman of the West Riding of County York, son of John le Stedeman of Fulford, in 1299 was named in a "commission (or writ) of oyer and terminer" granted to a certain person for hearing and determining a case against him. Since the case involved treason, felony, or misdemeanor on the part of Thomas, and since the act was committed during the period of strife between Edward I (King of England) and Robert Bruce (crowned King of Scotland in 1306), it appears that the criminal act was related to the political struggle of the time. He probably was charged with having given aid and encouragement to the Scots, but eventually escaped and fled to Scotland where he became a supporter of the cause of independence for that country. (Ibid.)
7.   Simon le Stedeman ( ca. 1296 - ? )
    Simon le Stedman presumably was born in County York, England, and went to Scotland with his father. He evidently was a leader among the Scots' forces sent by Robert Bruce (King of Scotland) to harry the English Counties of York and Northumberland, in retaliation for English inroads in Scotland, during the period of 1318-1323. In 1321 he was in an engagement with a body of Englishmen commanded by Sir Alexander de Mowbray. This engagement resulted in a peace treaty between Simon le Stedeman, Scotsman, and Sir Alexander de Mowbray, as recorded in the Records of the Scottish Privy Council. Another record states that in 1321 Simon le Stedeman was received to the English King's (Edward II's) peace," evidently meaning that the king received and agreed to the peace treaty made between Stedeman and Mowbray. (Black, The Surnames of Scotland.)
8.   Patricius Stedman/Steidman ( ca. 1321 - ? )
    The forementioned Charles Stedman, descendant of Patricius Stedman, was of Leith, Scotland. He married Janet Nielson, and they were the parents of Susan Stedman who married Alexander Barton.


Some Final Thoughts

It has been written that Calcarba de Steddanham, upon winning his battles in the Holy Land, took as a wife the daughter of an Arab Prince and that his son John is a product of that union... Consequently, all Stedmans are also descendants of the Prophet Mohammed. It is a story. I do not know if it is true.

Recently, I read an article in Ancestry Magazine by Gary Boyd Roberts, who is one of the leading research genealogists at the NEHGS. His specialty is Royal Descents. Let me share this quote with you as you look at your ancestral roots:
    "... sixty percent or more of the American people are descended from kings.

    "This descent is usually derived through roughly 350 royally descended immigrants of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Royal descent occurs, of course, because the younger children of kings become or marry nobles; the younger children of nobles become or marry landed gentry; the younger children of landed gentry become bureaucrats or professionals; and the younger children of professional elites have become middle-class citizens of the Anglo-American and British-derived world."




Last updated: 20 June 2004
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