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Stephens Family History
This is a patronymic surname, meaning 'the son of Steven or Stephen', a personal name which derives from the Greek 'stephanos' meaning 'crown'.
Stephen was a popular name in the Middle Ages having been borne by the first Christian martyr. It was first recorded in England in its latinized form 'Stefanus' on the Domesday Book of 1086. Surnames which developed from Stephen first appeared in the latter half of the 13th Century and include, on the Hundred Rolls of Buckinghamshire a Robert Stephen (in 1260) and Agnes Stiven (in 1279).
Variants of the surname include Steven, Stephan, Stiven, Stevens, Stephenson, Stevenson, and Steen.
Most instances of the Stephens surname appear in southern England, including Cornwall, Herefordshire and Sussex, as well as, to a slightly lesser extent, in parts of mid and south Wales. In the north of England and in Scotland, Stephenson and Stevenson are more popular versions of the surname.
In 1881, most Stephens/Stevens family members worked as farmers, agricultural and general labourers and some worked as coal miners, especially in south Wales. The surname was particular prevalent in Cornwall (where many worked as tin miners), Devon and Nottinghamshire.
- George Stephens (1813-1895) was a British archaeologist and philologist who interpreted runic inscriptions, particularly in Scandinavia. Originally from England, he moved to Sweden to study Scandinavian medieval folklore. He was also a lecturer in English at the Copenhagen University in Denmark.
- Henry Stephens (b. 1791) was a Cornish settler convicted on 16 February 1826 in Launceston, Cornwall. He was sentenced for 14 years for receiving stolen goods and was transported aboard the ship 'Chapman' on 10 April 1826 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia.
1881, 1891 Census
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain
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