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I don't think we pay enough attention to burials and wills - I know I
don't - so I've been trying to get my mind round the way that these
important records can be most easily accessed. Not sure if I've got it right
this time, but it's closer.
1812-1857 Estate Duty wills are copies of original wills made for the Estate
Duty Office, in cases where tax was payable on the deceased person's
property. are held by the Public Record Office (with one important
exception, see below). Details at PRO-Online wills -
The exception is Devon where the records for all of Devon for 1812-1857 are
held in Exeter, because all their original wills were destroyed by bombing
in 1942. The set is nearly complete, and the only difference between these
wills and the originals is that they do not carry the testator's signature.
The DRO set of wills have been filmed and print-outs from the microfiches
can be provided if required. Devon Record Office is at
http://www.devon.gov.uk/dro/homepage.html and Devon PRO records can be
searched for name or place - http://www.a2a.pro.gov.uk/
After 1858 almost all Wills proved and Grants of Representation issued in
England and Wales are public records; anyone is entitled to obtain copies of
them. However, not all estates need a Grant to be taken or a Will to be
proved: copies are only available if a Grant has issued. Full details of the
Court Service are at http://courtservice.gov.uk but this is a summary:-
There is a calendar for every year from 1858 up to date. The amount of
information given in the calendars has changed slightly over the years, but
every entry will include the following details:
full name and last address
the date of death
the type of grant issued
the Registry at which the grant issued and the date of issue
the gross value of the estate
The calendars include all grants issued throughout England and Wales.
There is no charge for you to search the calendars yourself. If you need any
help, staff will explain how you can do this.
The only place where there is a complete set of calendars [from 1858]
available for public inspection is First Avenue House in London. Most
District Probate Registries have calendars covering at least the last fifty
Registry officials will make a search on your behalf. There is a charge for
this but if a grant is traced, the search fee includes the provision of a
copy of the grant and [if any], the Will. You must write to the Postal
Searches and Copies Department at York giving the full name, address and
date of death of the deceased, stating what you require and enclosing the
If you make your own search and order copies' at the counter: £5 (this
includes a copy of the will, if any) additional copies of the same document
costs £1 per copy
If you make your own search and order copies by post: £5 for each estate:
this fee includes a copy of the Will [if any], regardless of the number of
pages, and a copy of the grant.
If you write to York and ask for a search: £5 (This covers the four year
period from the date of death). There is a further search fee of £3 for each
subsequent 4 year period searched. If a grant is traced, the fee includes a
copy of the Will [if any], regardless of the number of pages, and copy of
If you wish to write for a search and/or copy, you should write to The
Postal Searches and Copies Dept, York Probate Sub-Registry, Duncombe Place,
York, YO1 7EA where a special unit deals with such requests.
There is also a very new service which allows anyone to go to any Registry
in England and Wales and request to read a copy of a will for 5.00. The new
Probate Records Centre in Birmingham will scan the will and send it back to
the Registry within one hour of the initial request. The new centre replaces
previous arrangements where Probate documents were stored in District
Registries throughout England and Wales. They are investigating the
possibility of making the service accessible via the Internet.
Here's a potentially useful idea from today's Ancestry.com electronic newsletter, Mike
CAPITALIZE DIRECT LINES
When I enter names into my genealogy program, I capitalize the names
of my direct lines. I find it helpful when I'm trying to find the
name of MY ancestor among all the George Millers or whatever common
names I have.
Submitted by a lady from Indiana.
I have noticed the following in the 1881 census.
Dwelling: Efford House
Census Place: Holbeton, Devon, England
Richard B. NEWLAND U 72 M Edinburgh [my note - b 1809]
Occ: Major Retd
George STEER M 43 M Cornwall, England [my note - b 1838]
Occ: Dom Gardener
Eliza STEER M 40 F (British Subject), Malta [my note - b 1841]
Those of you, who have seen the film "Sense and Sensibility" with Emma
Thompson and Kate Winslet, will perhaps recognise the "cottage" on Sir John
Middleton's estate to which the dispossessed Dashwoods go in Devon is
actually Efford House on the Flete Estate near Holbeton, which (if you go to
the Flete website) is bookable as a holiday let !!
But my question is, who are these Steers ? Might George be related to the
Steers at Aveton Gifford, who seem to have popped backwards and forwards to
Cornwall at different times ?
Eliza was born in Malta, so that might ring a bell with someone. Was
George in the army ? Was he perhaps a batman to Major Newland ? Does he
connect with the Sgt George Steer, who now occupies my screen as a saver ?
As you can see, my imagination is working overtime here.
Any comments ??
As ever and provocatively,
The web site that Mike mentioned for the village of Froyle in northeast
Hampshire at http://www.froyle.demon.co.uk/main.htm might be of interest for
anyone interested in the STEER tribe from Odiham.
There are transcripts of the records of baptisms, marriages and burials at
St. Mary's in Upper Froyle from the early 1600s to the early 1950s plus the
census returns including 1901 and other stuff.
All the STEER entries at Froyle refer to Ezar STEER and his family. He
married Ellen MAYHEW (of Froyle) in Froyle on 3.10.1878. According to the
census records, he was born in Odiham in 1857/8. They had ten children - one
died young. Ellen was buried there aged 69 on 20.3.1926 and Ezar on 9.1.1937
And it looks as though Ezar was a Liberal.
A couple of Steer's at this site
ENGLAND. Village of Froyle in northeast Hampshire, England, U.K.
Census returns, baptisms, marriages, and burials. More than 600
photos and maps and 650 pp. of data with more added each month.
AUSTRALIA. Family History and Genealogy in South Australia.
Non-commercial site with links to information on South
Australians and their ancestors at home and abroad. Includes
local data. New pages on pioneers arriving 1837, 1838, and 1839.
The latest batch of transcriptions for Devon has just been released.
They can be found at http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/genuki/DEV/Census.1891/
There is now quite a fair chunk of the Devon and Cornwall 1891 census
available on line and free.
Last night I finished collating the information on STEER etc entries from
the Tudor and Stuart tax and muster rolls for Devonshire that I have
collected so far. The Tudor one is quite different from the original I
circulated a while ago.
If anyone wants a copy please let me know. It will normally be two Word 95
I think that your very kind offer would be interesting, useful and time
consuming. Sounds really good.
Do you think that as well as heads of households, lodgers and servants
should also be included? Their migration patterns should help the general
Ages, surnames and occupations are the most obvious topics to include, if it
is to be on an individual basis. That would certainly provide much more and
very different information than my original thoughts of a simple statistical
analysis of the totals in each county in 1881 compared with their places of
birth. Your method should provide a more accurate picture of STEER
The expansion of London in terms of land used for housing in the first half
of the nineteenth century is incredible. But the population densities almost
defy belief. When the Midland Railway built St Pancras station in London (in
the early 1840s I think), well over 100,000 people were evicted from the
houses. A population that today would be equivalent to a city the size of
Oxford. I suppose Oxford covers about twenty square miles. St Pancras can
only be a few hundred yards square. And the real mass migration in terms of
volume came after then. Dickens wrote about areas of London which were no-go
areas for the police in one of his newspaper articles. The mass of people
crammed into very small areas makes our life very much more difficult as
searching a relatively small area is such a mammoth task.
Once I've tarted up some of my South Hams Tudor and Stuart stuff I shall
attack the North Devon STEER entries on the censuses. I have indices for all
from 1841-1891. That won't help much, but would not supplement your work,
but will indicate the spread of families in that area over a fifty year
period. The information is only an index and does not shew origins.
The following dataset has come online recently:
AUSTRALIA. Passenger List, RMS Maraoa, UK to New Zealand and
Australia; 332 records; Keith Tinkler
17 years, 12 months
My interest in the STEER name started with my genealogy search on my
father's side, which is BAKER.
Unfortunately, I have become stuck with finding any information about my
late grandfather John BAKER, but I have had more luck on my grandmothers
The information I have so far is as follows:
Thomas STEER married Maria STANYON (dates unknown as yet).
Their son Alfred William STEER was christened on 8 April 1827 and married
Mary Ann ATKINS on 25 October 1850 in Hastings.
They had two children Sabina Esther STEER born 19 September 1851 and Alfred
Thomas STEER born 1855
Sabina married Alfred Edwin SIMMONDS and they had three daughters, one of
which was my grandmother.
There is a strong link with Ilford, Essex along the line, but the families
appeared to move around rather a lot which is making it difficult for me to
I am trying to find any information regarding the STEER name, so any help or
guidance would be very much appreciated.
Thank you in advance for any assistance
Jack's comments mirror exactly my own understanding of the extent of
18th Century migration to the cities and industrial areas. To learn more
about London ancestors, I have purchased Regency (c1813) and Victorian
(c1888) atlases of London, which reveal that the expansion of London was
truly breathtaking. I can also see numerous people in places such as
Glamorgan and Monmouthshire in 1881 who were born in the rural parts of
the west and south west of England: Devon, Gloucestershire and Somerset,
in particular (I believe the Somerset and Gwent FHS's did some work a
few years ago). Much to my wife Sue's dismay, I have been able just two
generations back to eliminate from her family tree all trace of Welsh
ancestry! It seems that the pace of change in those days was just as
dramatic as it is today.
If you think it would be worthwhile, I would be prepared, by using the
1881 census, to look at the birthplaces of the heads of Steer households
against census places and try to invent a summary to show the patterns
of migration. I suspect this task could take some time to complete(!),
but if feasible, what additional information would be most helpful, eg,
ages, surname variations and occupations?
Thanks to Mike and Peter for their thoughts.
I'm sure that Mike is correct and that STEER derives from Scandinavian or
North German origins and both was and is in fairly common use there. The
immigration records for Australia and America indicate people with one of
the variants arriving from those countries in the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries. It would also appear that their original names were sometimes
anglicised to STEER by immigration officials.
It also seems likely that there was more than one originator of the name in
England and possibly earlier in some cases than others. But it is also very
possible that some modern day STEERs are actually descendents of
servants/serfs of STURE/STEER landowners who took their master's name. It is
also possible that the steering side of old Norse also continued in use in
seafaring circles and was picked up by other families. I'm not sure that we
shall ever be able to construct a completely satisfactory answer to this
We can be much more certain about the geographical spread of the name in
Britain. Peter's interesting analysis of the 1881 census largely confirms
the spread that has been suggested by the occurrence of earlier wills and
parish register entries. But I think it does rather more than that.
We knew that Devon, Surrey, Sussex, Kent and South Yorkshire/North
Derbyshire all had sizeable STEER families from at least late medieval
times. We also knew that there were also smaller groupings in Lincolnshire,
Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and so on.
Some of the 1881 figures seem to me to have been significantly inflated by
immigration. Surrey and Middlesex - the London bit anyway - grew by mass
immigration once travel was made so much easier by the advent of the
railways. I know that there are South Milton STEER descendents in both those
counties in 1881 (including an Orange). I think I could make out a similar
case for Cornwall (tin and lead mining), Glamorgan (coal mining),
Lincolnshire (fishing) and Lancashire. I wonder where the heads of the
households were born - that might help to indicate patterns of migration.
Eighteenth century and earlier migration was usually on a much more local
basis. Even migration to seek fresh employment was rarely beyond a ten-mile
radius from a worker's place of origin. Instead people 'milled about' within
a given group of villages, moving from one to the other as employment
opportunities - or fancy - took them. Even fast-expanding industrial areas
like south Lancashire and Warwickshire, which relied on immigration to meet
their labour needs, drew people from a relatively short distance only. In
many districts we know that there were strong ties of kinship, with much
intermarrying within a small geographical compass. For example at Colyton in
Devon between 1765 and 1777 more than three-quarters of the wives who appear
in the baptismal registers were born in that parish or within a five-mile
radius of it, while in a group of Oxfordshire villages around 65 per cent of
marriages contracted in the second half of the eighteenth century involved
partners who lived in the same parish.
So if there were a 1781 census I suspect that the overall pattern would be
similar, but I should not expect many STEER entries in Wales and perhaps
none at all, in Scotland or the North East of England.
Intrigued by Michael's comments recently (forgive me if someone has
already done this), I had a quick look at the Census to see what the
STEER surname distribution actually was in 1881. The results of this
admittedly crude bit of research are shown by county below. There are
5000 or so Steer's (including the surname variations chosen by the LDS)
in the index.
In one sense, my research confirms what you know already, but (sadly)
this sort of statistical analysis appealed to me, and I suppose it could
be used not only to analyse surname distribution, but also to look for
correlations (if any) and family migrations (using the county of birth
of the head of household). In theory, other details could be added, eg
occupation. Of course, if older records were added (difficult!), trends
over time might be more apparent.
It's a lot of work for a fairly dubious return, not being specific or
related to individual ancestors, but do you know if anyone has done any
research along these lines?
Beds 67, Berks 40, Bucks 38, Cambs 1, Cheshire 25, Corn 77, Cumb 3,
Derbys 44, Devon 1059, Dorset 47, Durham 29, Essex 69, Glouc 73, Hants
119, Hereford 1, Herts 32, Hunts 3, Kent 389, Lancs 99, Leics 14, Lincs
42, Middx 574, Norf 3, Northampton 44, Northumb 15, Notts 44, Oxf 5,
Rutland 2, Salop 1, Som 94, Staffs 29, Suff 2, Surrey 896, Sussex 500,
Warks 40, Westmorland 1, Wilts 5, Worcs 12, Yorks 291.
Angus 1, Berwick 1, Dunbarton 9, Forfar 1, Lanarks 13, Linlithgow 2,
Midlothian 17, Moray 1, Renfrew 2, Stirling 2, Westlothian 2.
Anglesea 7, Brecknock 7, Carmarthen 1, Denbigh 14, Flint 2, Glamorgan
66, Mon 12, Pemb 8.
Thanks, I 'll follow this through.
I don't have a reference to a Fred or like name born in Lincolnshire c1880,
although Fred appears in my family at other times. I have heard of Thomas
May thanks to FreeBMD, he has a marriage third quarter 1894 (probably second
marriage) in the Caistor area of Lincolnshire, possibly marrying a Mary
Alice Sewell or an Elizabeth Hughan (latter is more significant to my own
Gerry, to give you my background, I'm from a 'Lincolnshire Steer' family but
as the name isn't common I've gathered details on any Steer from that county
and I'm always please to heard from and help anyone having an interest in
the 'Lincolnshire Steers'. Please drop me an email with all the information
you have; I'm sure we'll dig up something.
Thomas's second name of May indicates a previous marriage to a May family,
maybe even that of his father. I'll work though the indexes I have.
----- Original Message -----
From: "jack steer" <jacks(a)bukanin.fsnet.co.uk>
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2002 9:18 AM
Subject: [STEER] STEER family tree - Lincolnshire mariner.
> >From Gerry K. LEWIS-STEER - gkls(a)shaw.ca
> <I am trying to find out more details about my grandfather:
> Name: Frederick STEER
> DOB: around 1880 and born in Lincolnshire (town not known)
> He had siblings named: George, Clara and Alice (born 1886)
> His father's name was: Thomas May STEER
> No knowledge of the mother's name. She died and Frederick remarried (no
> of the second wife) The children were put into an orphanage for a while.
> Thomas May STEER died at sea.
> Frederick was an engineer and mariner. He married Alice J.L. AXFORD on 28
> Nov. 1901 in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire and had five children, all of
> were born in Milford Haven to the best of my knowledge. He died on 17 Oct.
> 1967 and is buried in Milford Haven cemetery.
> Thanking you in anticipation>
> To join Ancestry.com and access our 1.2 billion online genealogy records,
>From Gerry K. LEWIS-STEER - gkls(a)shaw.ca
<I am trying to find out more details about my grandfather:
Name: Frederick STEER
DOB: around 1880 and born in Lincolnshire (town not known)
He had siblings named: George, Clara and Alice (born 1886)
His father's name was: Thomas May STEER
No knowledge of the mother's name. She died and Frederick remarried (no name
of the second wife) The children were put into an orphanage for a while.
Thomas May STEER died at sea.
Frederick was an engineer and mariner. He married Alice J.L. AXFORD on 28
Nov. 1901 in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire and had five children, all of whom
were born in Milford Haven to the best of my knowledge. He died on 17 Oct.
1967 and is buried in Milford Haven cemetery.
Thanking you in anticipation>
This is the last of the set, until I check that there are none missing.
Has anyone found any links with what was clearly quite a significant
eighteenth century STEER group in West Oxfordshire. Where did they come
DATE GROOM DETAILS BRIDE DETAILS PLACE
FATHER FATHER NOTES
6.1. 1726 Johnathon DUMBLETON Sarah STEER Burford, Oxfordshire
4.11. 1726 Richard STEER Anne MONK Burford, Oxfordshire
30.10. 1733 Richard STEER Rachel LEECH Burford, Oxfordshire
5.4. 1768 Joseph STEER Hester HORWOOD Burford, Oxfordshire
10.2. 1771 William COOK Mary STEER Burford, Oxfordshire
5.7. 1774 John STEER Hannah PARKER Burford, Oxfordshire
Both husband and wife previously married
13.12. 1775 John SMITH Ann STEER Burford, Oxfordshire
5.9. 1673 Thomas CLENNAR Elizabeth STEERE Coventry Holy Trinity
17.6. 1566 Williamus KYLBY Agneta STEERE Tredington, Warwick
29.7. 1873 Francis MILLNER Aged 24 Hannah STEERS Aged 34 Leek, St Luke,
92 Francis MILLNER Thomas STEERS
10.4. 1875 Thomas STEERS Aged 33 Hannah GRATTON Aged 33 Leek, St Luke,
92 Thomas STEERS Thomas GRATTON
30.7. 1867 Frank Rowland STEER Ann HUDSON Wellington, Staffordshire
92 John STEER Thomas HUDSON Husband previously married
After LDS Vital Records Index British Isles.
The Probate Registry is on
I believe that it is possible to obtain pre 1858 wills from the registry
with a minimum of information. Don't forget to ask for copy probate and will
otherwise you will only get one or the other they do not automatically send
both. Of course with administrations you only get a copy of the letters of
administration unless it is a L of A with will attached. Also if you know
there is a codicil ask for a copy of that too.
Devon is different as the original wills were destroyed in an air raid in
1942 and the probate copies were subsequently transferred to Exeter. They
are listed under Devon on - http://www.a2a.pro.gov.uk/ and the Devon Record
Office, Castle Street, Exeter EX4 3PU Tel: 01392 384253 Fax: 01392 384256 is
I think all the STEER wills in Devon have been transcribed and posted to
this list through the kind offices of Philip Steer so will be in the
This message has just been posted to the Devon list and I thought that
someone might find this new facility useful
<Have you been frustrated searching the IGI for your rellies when you have
only the surname but got tired of figuring out batch numbers and typing them
into the LDS search screen (since you can't do a last name search unless you
know a batch number)?
I have been - so I decided to do something about it. I have made an
exhaustive search of the likely ranges of batch numbers for the British
Isles and created a database of those numbers and the source records that
they apply to. I have searched all the possible numbers in the ranges shown
on my website. For each batch I extracted the church or chapel (if
specified), town, county and country names of the first record that appears
when it is called up in my browser. I then organised them by country and
county and created a website. A very powerful feature that I have included
is a hotlink from each batch number to the actual search engine provided at
http://www.familysearch.org, including the ability to enter the surname you
are looking for.
This makes it very easy to search all the batches for a particular
geographic location using just the last name you are searching for -
something that is not possible directly from the LDS site without doing a
lot of typing.
(oh yes - the site is at
Hugh Wallis - Ontario, Canada - Formerly of Surrey, UK
OPC - Stoke Damerel - opc(a)stokedamerelopc.org - http://stokedamerelopc.org
Baptism lookups - http://stokedamerelopc.org/baptism_lookup_request.htm
Burial lookups - http://stokedamerelopc.org/burial_lookup_request.htm
IGI Middle Name search (Plymouth and Exeter regions) -
IGI Batch numbers -