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The first highly likely member of our Stevenson line was Ambrose StevensonB of London, who was born in 1678. [Click to see explanation of the numbering system used here.] Ambrose was mentioned in his uncle Ambrose Stevenson’s will of 1679, implying that he was the son of one of Ambrose’s brothers: John, Edward, Thomas, or Richard. There were four generations of first-born sons named Ambrose Stevenson in Byerside, County Durham. The similarity of names with our London Ambrose may be more than coincidental, but has not yet been proved to my satisfaction.
“Our” Ambrose married 6 November 1707 Bridgett PARNELL at St. Edmund the King and Martyr, Lombard Street, London. The family were artisans, and members of St. Giles Cripplegate parish in London.
Bridgett had been born in 1691, the daughter of Thomas Parnell and his wife Bridgett (Sells) PENN, the widow of John. Bridget had a brother, James Parnell, whose 1724 will named his sister Bridget Stevenson, brother[-in-law] John Penn, brother[-in-law] Ambrose Stevenson, and sister Mary CLANCAN. He bequeathed his brother[-in-law] Ambrose all his property in Fillingly, Warwickshire. The woods that had been bequeathed by the will of William BRIERLY, James left to his sister Mary Clancan. Thank goodness for well-preserved and specific wills. They are one of our most valuable sources for this period.
Children of Ambrose and Bridgett (Parnell) Stevenson:i. Mary StevensonA, chr. 16 Oct. 1709 at Christ Church Greyfriars, Newgate, London; presumably d.y.
ii. Ambrose Stevenson, chr. 16 Jan. 1711 at Christ Church Greyfriars; apprenticed 1731 to Thomas HAYWARD, cooper.
iii. Parnell Stevenson, chr. 13 Feb. 1712 at Christ Church Greyfriars; presumably d.y.
iv. Mary Stevenson, chr. 25 July 1714 at Christ Church Greyfriars;
v. Parnel Stevenson, chr. 25 Nov. 1716 at Christ Church Greyfriars;
vi. James Parnell Stevenson, chr. 30 July 1725 at St. Giles Cripplegate, London; d. 1756. Apprenticed in 1741 to Thomas FORD, barber surgeon in London.
vii. Joanna Stevenson, chr. 28 July 1728 at St. Giles Cripplegate;
viii. John Allen Stevenson, chr. 18 Jan. 1729 at St. Giles Cripplegate;
James Parnell StevensonA, son of Ambrose and Bridgett (Parnell) Stevenson, was born after 1718 in the parish of St. Giles Cripplegate, London, and was christened 30 July 1725. He was apprenticed to Thomas FORD, Citizen of London, in 1741, to learn the business of barber surgeon. He married 23 December 1746 Margaret SMITH, at Mayfair St. George’s.
James was a Surgeon’s Mate in the Royal (British) Navy and died “abroad” on 18 May 1756, leaving two young sons. Coincidently, there is a will of a James Stivenson, Corporal on board HMS ffogeux, who signed his will 17 June, proved 2 April 1756, giving everything to his friend James Caskie, since the testator was a bachelor. Clearly this was not our man.
Margaret then became the housekeeper for David BARCLAY of London. David Barclay was of the famous Quaker banking family, said to be the richest man in London. Margaret died 15 November 1760 in London. Barclay took an interest in the young orphans of his late housekeeper. James, aged 9, was sent to school in Yorkshire. Henry was sent to live with his great great aunt, Jane LONG, gentlewoman of Hertfordshire.
James and Margaret (Smith) Stevenson had two children:i. James Lewis Stevenson1, b. 15 Apr. 1751 in Chatham, England; d. 1 Feb. 1817 in Smyrna, Delaware.
ii. Henry Stevenson, b. 12 Nov. 1754, bapt. 4 Dec. 1754 at St. Giles Cripplegate, London; sent as an orphan to his great great aunt, Jane Long, spinster and gentlewoman in Hertfordshire; served in British navy during the American Revolution.
James Lewis Stevenson1, the eldest son of James Parnell Stevenson and his wife Margaret (Smith), was said to have been born in Chatham, England on 15 April 1751. There was a Chatham in the Medway District, Lancashire, from 1837 to 1930, but whether or not this is the correct Chatham, I do not yet know. There is no Chatham in Lewis’s 1842 Topographical Dictionary. Presumably the Chatham we are looking for had a naval base of some sort.
James’s mother died when James was nine years old, and her former employer sent James to school in Yorkshire. James's brother Henry was sent to his great, great aunt, Jane LONG, gentlewoman of Hertfordshire.
When he was finished his formal schooling, James was sent by Barclay to the Delaware Valley. He arrived in Duck Creek in 1768 at the age of 17, and was apprenticed to Fenwick FISHER, a prominent Quaker merchant and Justice of the Peace. James lived in the Fisher home on Commerce Street (now known as the Enoch Spruance house), and helped in Fisher’s store. His apprenticeship lasted four years and seven months, ending in 1773.
On 14 February 1775 James married Margaret DENNY, daughter of John Denny, and granddaughter of Philip Denny. The wedding took place at the Episcopal Church at Duck Creek Crossroads. James was two months shy of his 24th birthday, Margaret was 22, having been born on born 15 May 1753.[Information from Philip Baynard.] On 12 February 1777 James bought a half acre lot on Ball Street (now Mt. Vernon Street) in the village and the young couple lived in a log house there. It had two rooms in the front and two rooms in the back. It burned down in 1850. In 1992 the site was a vacant lot, between the Methodist Church and the Ebenezer Cloak house.
In Duck Creek Crossroads/Smyrna James and Margaret were among the early converts to Methodism. Francis ASBURY preached in an orchard between Smyrna and Duck Creek Crossroads in 1780. The first Methodist services held in Smyrna were conducted by the Rev. Philip COX in the Stevenson home in 1788.[Information from Philip Baynard.] Family tradition recounted that Jameswas a member of the Episcopal church at Duck-creek, but was expelled because he allowed the new sect called Methodist to hold meetings in his house. Bishop Asbury preached there. Once while services were being held a mob collected and put a pry under one corner of the building to destroy it, but the congregation collected in that corner and prayed so fervently that the mob were dispersed.
John Wesley wrote in a tract that he hoped the colonies would not separate from Great Britain, and therefore during the Revolution Methodists were sometimes suspected of being Loyalists.
When the Revolutionary War broke out, James served in the Delaware Line in 1777. The militia was alerted when a British raiding party was sighted at the Landing. During the ensuing skirmish, James was sure he saw his brother, Henry, among the British, and refused to fire. As a result he lost his Sergeant’s stripes and was under sentence of death. Descendant Lydia McDowell’s family story recounts that on “finding his brother in their [British] ranks, refused to remain in the company and had to give a large sum of money for his release, so, of course, was branded as a Tory.” James “Stephenson” is entered in Delaware military records through March 1780, when he was “put on board a Continental galley”. But there is no record of a court martial. Instead he was assigned to Quartermaster duties and served honorably until the end of the War, according to the state's records.
A James Stevenson appeared in the 1782 Delaware Assessment and Tax list in Duck Creek Hundred. His household consisted of one man over eighteen and another under eighteen years, and two woman over 18. Another listing of the same data credits James’s household with four individuals distributed as two men over 18, one under 18, and one woman under 18. Neither of these compute with our ancestor’s family. On a separate plot a James Stevenson was assessed on its value of £4. It seems clear that there was more than one individual names james Stevenson living in the area at that time.
The family of James and Margaret continued to grow, and eventually they had eleven children. James built a larger frame house (on the site of the present Methodist church).
James was a shopkeeper. During the early years of the Revolution, and again from 1794 to 1797 his store was in a brick building owned by Col. Charles POPE. It was located on the site of the present (as of 1992) Tilghman building on the north side of Commerce Street, just east of Main Street.
James also bought a two-story brick house on the Landing Road which may at one time have been his store.
In 1808 James went bankrupt. His three properties were seized and sold at auction for a debt of $1,216. The highest bidder ($880.) was his son Henry, who was termed “gentleman” in the deed. The immediate cause of bankruptcy was a large bill due to the Fisher brothers in Philadelphia. But as James was a careful businessman, the underlying cause may have been some disaster such as a sunken ship, or a fire.
The bankruptcy did not disgrace him, however. In 1812 two of the richest men in Smyrna, John CUMMINS and Ebenezer BLACKISTON, chose James to be an officer of the Commercial Bank of Delaware, the first bank in Smyrna. The Commercial Bank of Delaware was incorporated 9 February 1812 and James Stevenson was named its clerk.[Information from Philip Baynard.] Lydia McDowell’s family story holds that James “was the cashier of Smyrna Bank at the time the British were reported to be at Core’s Landing [during the War of 1812]. Fearing the soldiers might rob the Bank the money was put in a strong chest and Grandfather was dispatched with it to Jimtown to put it in hiding. Finding the report untrue he returned with it to the Bank.”
The Stevensons remained staunch supporters of the Methodist Church. In 1786 a frame building was erected for the congregation. At a meeting on 4 March 1799 seven trustees were elected, including James Stevenson, who was elected secretary.
James Stevenson can be tracked in the US census for Delaware. In 1800, as a man of 49, his household also included one male and one female between the age of 10 and 16 and another pair between the ages of 16 and 26. There was one other free person, perhaps an African-American who lived with the family?
On 29 March 1813 the Governor of Delaware commissioned James a Notary and Tabelion Public for Kent County.[Scharf’s History of Delaware lists the date as 7 Apr. 1813.]
Margaret died 6 November 1816. James signed his will 4 January 1817, and died in Smyrna, Delaware a little less than three months after his wife, on 1 February 1817, aged 66. They were both buried in the Asbury Methodist Cemetery, along with their sons Henry, Philip, and Denny. James’s tombstone reads, “A patient man he is at rest.” Click on the tombstone for a larger view.
James’s will was proved 1 March. Sons Thomas and Philip were named executors. James bequeathed his watch, bed, $100 and the family Bible to son Charles. Sons Denny and Philip received personalty
Children of James and Margaret (Denny) Stevenson:i. John Stevenson2, b. Sunday, 6 May 1776 at Duck Creek Cross Roads; d. 31 July 1780.
ii. James Stevenson, Jr., b. Saturday, 27 June 1778 or 1779 on the John Denny place; d. Sunday 17 Mar. 1811 at 7:30 a.m.; m. 1801 Sarah "Sallie" McKIM. Either he or his father, on 6 June 1810 was commissioned Captain of the Light Infantry, 1st Battalion, 4th Regiment.
iii. Henry Stevenson, b. Wed., 30 Aug. 1780; d. 10 or 11 Dec. 1827; m. 1800 Phebe SNOW; 2 children: David Stevenson and Phebe Ann Stevenson [who m. Joseph DISCH]. Henry bought his father's property when it was sold at auction.
iv. David Stevenson, b. Friday the 13th Dec. 1782 at Duck Creek Cross Roads (later called Smyrna); d. Tues., 1 Sept. 1807 at 4:10 a.m.; m. Ann "Nancy" KNOCK or Neck or NOCK; 1 daughter: Mary Stevenson, b. 1804. Commissioned 17 May 1828 Lieutenant, 5th Co., 5th Regiment [Delaware militia].
v. Mary Stevenson, b. Tues., 4 Jan. 1785 at Duck Creek Cross Roads; d. 19 Dec. 1829; m. 1802 Daniel SMITH.
vi. Thomas Stevenson, b. Sunday, 25 Feb. 1787 at Duck Creek Cross Roads; d. 10 Nov. 1865; m. twice; 9 children.
vii. Margaret Stevenson, b. Tues., 21 Apr. 1789 at Duck Creek Cross Roads; d. 17 Aug. 1826; m. George MANN.
viii. Philip Stevenson, b. Sat. 19 Nov. 1791 or 1793 at Duck Creek Cross Roads; d. 24 Dec. 1823; m. 1816 Eliza MULL. Named executor of his father's estate.
ix. Denny Stevenson, b. Wed., 9 Apr. 1794 at Duck Creek Cross Roads; d. 19 May 1866; m. 1817 Sarah LEATHERBURY; 8 children: William, Asbury, Ann, Elizabeth, Lydia (m. __ McDowell), Sarah Jane, Martha, and William Denny. Ann/Anne is the great great grand mother of Darrell SPARKS.
x. Susannah Stevenson, b. Tues., 14 Mar. 1797 at Duck Creek Cross Roads; d. Fri., 21 Sept. 1818 at 10:30 p.m.
xi. Charles Lewis Stevenson, b. Fri., 27 June 1800 at Duck Creek Cross Roads; d. 13 Mar. 1876; m. 1821 Ann SEVERSON (she d. 13 Mar. 1870 and was buried in the old ME Cemetery in Dover); 1 son: Daniel G. Stevenson (1827-1896).
Second Generation in Delaware
Mary Stevenson2, fifth child and eldest daughter of James and Margaret (Denny) Stevenson, was born on Tuesday, 4 January 1785 at Duck Creek Cross Roads. She died on 19 December 1829. In 1802 Mary married Daniel SMITH. They had at least one son who lived in Dover, James Smith.
Thomas Stevenson2, the son of James1 and Margaret (Denny) Stevenson, was born February 25, 1787 in Smyrna (then called Duck Creek Crossroads), Delaware, and died in 1865. Thomas was a cabinetmaker in Dover, who married Sarah Quinnelly, Quinley, or Quinnaly (there are lots of spelling variations) on 15 June 1809.
Thomas was a cabinetmaker in Dover. More information is available about him and his sometime partner, McDowell, who is a better-known Dover cabinet-maker. A bureau Thomas built was exhibited at the Wilmington Society of Fine Arts in 1950 (see Antiques magazine, Aug. 1950, p. 207). A two-poster bed he made is now in the Delaware State Museums. Click on the image of the headboard for a larger view of it.
Sarah died 6 November 1816. James married for a second time, Anna WILLOUGHBY. They had no children.
There is a lot more information on Thomas, including a letter with his marriage proposal, in Chapter 6 "Stevenson Stories", of 1328 North Fifteenth Street: the Dunning Family and Its Things.
Children of Thomas and Sarah (Quinnelly) were:
i. James3, b. 1810; d. 1811.
ii. James Henry, b. 23 Dec. 1811; d. 12 Sept. 1849; m. Temperance Anne MORRIS (1809-1889); 4 children: Edwin M., Thomas J., Mordecai Morris, and Mary Ellen.
iii. Thomas, b. 1813; d. 1835.
iv. William Sorden, b. 1816; d. 1827.
v. Margaret Ann, b.26 Sept. 1818; d. 26 Jun 1904; m. as his 2nd wife, James A. Dunning (1811-1865); 3 children.
vi. John Asbury, b. 6 Apr., 1821; d. 10 Dec. 1876; m. Gertrude LOCKWOOD (1817-1895); 6 children: Thomas, John, Sarah Quinnnely, Elizabeth R., Gertrude, and Jennie.
vii. George, b. 13 Oct. 1823; d. 22 Jul. 1857; m. Malvina DAVIS; 4 children: Ann, James Henry, George Monroe, and Margaret A.
viii. Elizabeth, b. 30 Mar. 1826;
ix. Sarah Quinnely, b. 22 Feb. 1829; d. 28 Mar. 1910; m. 1854 James KIRK (1828-1893); 5 children: Andrew Stevenson Kirk, James Edgar Kirk, Sarah Quinnally Kirk, Margaret Dunning Kirk, and Annie Stevenson Kirk.
x. Philip David, b. 1 Jan. 1832; d. 30 Dec. 1832.
Third Generation in Delaware
James Henry Stevenson3, the second son of Thomas Stevenson2, was born 23 December 1811. He died 12 September 1849. He married Temperance Anne MORRIS (1809-1889). She had been born 15 March 1809 and died 26 February 1889.
James was apprenticed to his father, the cabinetmaker, until the age of 21, in December 1832. The only known piece of furniture made by him is an Empire-style chest of drawers signed, "James Stevenson / maker Dover / Delaware / 1832 November 25th / for Thomas Stevenson / Dover, Dela." [Charles G. Dorman, Delaware Cabinetmakers and Allied Artisans, 1655-1855 (Historical Society of Delaware, 1960).] The chest of drawers was owned by Mrs. Alfred S. Biggs of Dover in 1962. She was the grand-neice of James. I do not know where the piece is now.
James built his residence, a "handsome" 3 and a half storey house, at the southeast corner of State and Water Streets in Dover. The house was later lived in by Congressman Brown, and Andrew Stevenson Kirk, among others. In the early twentieth century Christ Church bought the building and moved it down Water Street behind the church's graveyard. In 1957 the house was sold and demolished.[Information from Philip Gladwin Baynard.]
James died in 1849 at the age of 38. Temperance Anne survived him forty years. They are both buried in the old Methodist Episcopal cemetery at North and Queen Streets.
Children of James Henry and Temperance Anne (Morris) Stevenson: [Names and dates from a chart prepared by Philip Gladwin Baynard. 1977.]i. Edwin M., b. 19 Jan. 1834; d. 4 Dec. 1894; m. Sarah C. BURTON; 4 children.
ii. Thomas J., b. 19 Jan. 1838; d. 22 Oct. 1914; m. Caroline H. __;
iii. Mordecai Morris, b. 26 Feb. 1840; d. 13 May 1916; m 20 Sept. 1865 Lydia WALTON (1836-1923); 4 children.
iv. Mary Ellen, d. 1877; m. Jacob HILL; several children.
Margaret Ann Stevenson3, fifth child and eldest daughter of Thomas Stevenson2, was born 26 September 1818 and died in Philadelphia on 26 June 1904. She married James Anderson DUNNING, a widower. He had previously been married to Louisa TURNER, with whom he had three children: Caroline, Anna Eliza, and Erasmus.
James died 6 February 1865. After his death his widow ran the store for a year with her brother John Stevenson, who had been a partner with James. In 1874 Margaret moved to Philadelphia with her son Thomas and his wife and daughter.
There is a lot more information on Margaret Ann, some of which is on the Dunning page. More is in the book about her son's family, 1328 North Fifteenth Street: the Dunning Family and Its Things, available on Lulu.com.
Children of Margaret Ann (Stevenson) Dunning and her husband James A. Dunning:i. Thomas Stevenson Dunning4, b. 1848; d. 1945; m. Lydia BALDERSTON; 8 children. He was a homeopathic physician in Philadelphia.
ii. James Henry Dunning, b. 1850; d. 1870 of typhoid fever. He kept store in Dover before his untimely death. He was unmarried.
iii. Charles Thompson Dunning, b. 1852; d. ; m. Mary CREEVER; 4 children. He was a Methodist minister, whose life has been well-researched by Dorie Dunning HECKMAN.
John A. Stevenson3, sixth child of Thomas andSarah Stevenson was born on 6 April, 1821 and died 10 December 1876. John married Gertrude LOCKWOOD (1817-1895).
Children of John A. and Gertrude (Lockwood) Stevenson: [Names and dates from a chart prepared by Philip Gladwin Baynard. 1977.]i. Thomas4, removed to Virginia;
ii. John, removed to California;
iii. Sarah Quinnely, m. the Rev. Wesley GREEN and had three children. I think the Greens were missionaries in Japan for a few years.
iv. Elizabeth R., b. 1857; d, 1918; m. William L. PRITCHETT; had three children.
v. Gertrude, d. 14 Apr. 1903; m. the Rev. Alpheus S. MOWBRAY; had 4 children.
vi. Jennie, m. the Rev. James MITCHELL; had 2 children.
George R. Stevenson3, b. 13 Oct. 1823; d. 22 Jul. 1857. George married Malvina DAVIS.
Children of George and Malvina (Davis) Stevenson: [Names and dates from a chart prepared by Philip Gladwin Baynard. 1977.]i. Ann4, b. 1848; d. 1864.
ii. James Henry, m. Minnie C. COOK; had 11 children.
iii. George Monroe, b. 1853; d. 1910; m. Alice P. COSDEN; 5 children.
iv. Margaret A., b. 1857; m. 1882 John H. WEBB; children??
Sarah Quinnely Stevenson3, ninth child and third daughter of Thomas and Sarah (Quinnely) Stevenson, was born on Washington's Birthday, 22 February 1829. She died 28 March 1910. Sarah married in 1854 James KIRK (1828-1893).
Thomas Stevenson, Sarah's father, purchased the lot south of his own house on King Street (now State Street) in 1840 from the heirs of Dr. James TILTON. In 1846 he built a new house on the lot, a two story brick house with an attic and three bays, facing east. There was already a building there, mentioned in an 1804 deed as a one-story frame house. So Thomas had it moved, rotated 90 degrees, and attached to the back of the new brick house. There was a summer kitchen on his own lot, which he also moved and attached on behind the 1804 building (which either in the interim since 1804 or built by Thomas) had a second story added.
For several years Sarah taught school in the back room of the house. Then in 1854 she married James Kirk, a newspaper editor in Philadelphia. Presumably she went to Philadelphia with him. But in 1859 they moved to Dover where James edited a paper, and lived in this house, renting it from her father.
At the death of Thomas Stevenson, Sarah bought the house from his estate for $3,000. At her death in 1910 it passed to her two daughters, Sarah and Margaret, and from them to their neice Julia Kirk whose first husband was William Jackson BAYNARD. Julia left it to her son Philip Gladwin Baynard who lived there til his death in the 1990s. The house was then sold out of the family. However, recently it has been purchased and lovingly restored by John ALSTADT, who very kindly gave me this photograph of it.
Children of Sarah Quinnely (Stevenson) and James Kirk: [Names and dates from a chart prepared by Philip Gladwin Baynard. 1977.]i. Andrew Stevenson Kirk4, b. 1855; d. 1902; m. S. Lavinia COLLINS.
ii. James Edgar Kirk, b. 1858; d. 1932; m(1) Eunice Louisa GLADWIN (1867-1899) and had three children; m(2) Lydia Louise WHEELER (1874-1957) and had three more children.
iii. Sarah Quinnely Kirk, b. 1861; d. 1943; unmarried.
iv. Margaret Dunning Kirk, b. 1863; d. 1940; unmarried; lived with her older sister in the house built by their grandfather, Thomas Stevenson.
v. Annie Stevenson Kirk, b. 1864; d. 1868.
There is additional information in the book pictured to the right, about Thomas Stevenson and his daughter Margaret Ann (Stevenson) Dunning, who ended her life in her son Thomas's house in Philadelphia. The book describes their objects that have been passed down through the generations, with sufficient social history to give context and meaning. It's a hard cover book, entitled 1328 North Fifteenth Street: the Dunning Family and Its Things.
See the index of other family lines.
Or, check out the Paxson family.
If you have corrections or additions, I would be delighted to hear from you via e mail at .
This page was first posted 10/29/2003;
Most recently updated 12/13/2014.