The Stedman Surname:
In these histories, I will generally refer to the families we are documenting as the Stedman family, even though various family lines spell the surname differently. Stedman, Steadman, Steedman, Stidman, Stidmon, Steidman, and Studman are the most common spelling variations current today. Ancient records, before spelling became more standardized, show many other spelling variations.
We have tried to document each individual with the spelling that they used late in their life; however, many people have made no attempt at consistency. When I transcribe original documents about an individual, I record the spelling used in those documents.
Some individuals have documented an intentional change in spelling during their lifetime. For instance, some pre-Civil War American families chose between the Stedman or Steadman spelling within a family line based on their pro- or anti-slavery views.
For more information about the history, please read the History of the Stedman Surname.
Stedman Families in North America today:
Most Stedman and Steadman families in North America can assume that their ancestry could be traced back to a John le Stedeman who was a Knight in the Crusades. He fought with King Richard the Lionheart in the Holyland and was imprisoned with King Richard in Austria on their return to England. For his service, King Richard awarded him a manor, often thought to be in Kent; however, research suggests it was more likely somewhere in Northamptonshire – Nottinghamshire – Lincolnshire region of England.
This study is primarily documenting Stedmans who trace their history back to Britain. However, several Stedman families in North America, mostly from Germany or Scandinavia, descend from post-colonial immigrants who have adopted one of the Stedman surname spellings as their American surname.
In addition, descendants of the 1600s immigrant Timen Stiddem adopted surnames such as Stidham, Stedham, Steadham. However, some branches of that family have adopted one of the Stedman spellings. Some of this came about from inter-marrying with Steedmans in 18th century South Carolina.
In fact, DNA evidence has shown that the family of the late Joseph Earle Steadman – author of the Barton-Steadman Genealogy that covered so many of the Steadman families originating from South Carolina – were biologically Stidhams. This has been proven for descendants of two documented sons of George Steedman Sr. of South Carolina. It is thought that George likely adopted grandchildren of a deceased daughter who married a Stidham. Neither the daughter nor the Stidham have as yet been identified; however, his daughter Rachel is known to have married a son of Zachariah Stidham Sr.
DNA Studies are helping us identify biologically distinct Stedman families; however, some of these biological distinctions reflect documented name changes (like the Barton-Steadman family) and adoptions. Further discussion of this will found on the DNA page in this web site.
Stedman Family in Medieval Britain:
One of the sons of John le Stedeman began a major migration of the family from the late 12th century to the 15th century. Large family groups ended up during this period in Shropshire and Wales; Scotland (via Yorkshire); and Sussex and Kent.
The family lines that went to Shropshire and Scotland seem to have been some of the better documented in the early years as any claims among the family to any even minor nobility, and hence documentation in those days, followed those family lines.
We will provide a history of the Shropshire family line in a later article.
Several histories have been written about the Scottish family that became known as the Barton-Steadman family. The family came to Scotland in the 14th century when the Stedmans in Yorkshire sided with Robert the Bruce against the English and had to flee to Scotland. As such, the Stedman family even today has few members in the northeast of England.
The principal line of the Stedman family in Scotland – the one that owned land! – “daughtered out” (heir to land was a daughter) in the late 16th century and the heiress, a Susan Stedman, daughter of Charles Stedman, married a Barton.
Modern sources differ on what his forename name was (Alexander or Charles), and I have not had access to original sources, although it is clear that he was a son of Admiral Sir Andrew Barton. Upon the death of Susan, her husband petitioned Queen Mary of Scotland to assume the Stedman name and thus allow their children to inherit the Stedman lands. He became Charles Stedman and founded what we know now as the Barton-Steadman family.
The Scottish family, both Bartons and Stedmans, has a long history as mariners. Some of them lived in Holland at periods of time. One descendant was Capt. John Gabriel Stedman of the Scottish Dragoons. He became a famous explorer and author. In the late 1700s he spent several years exploring in South America and wrote a well known book about it.
For more details on the Scottish and English history of the family, click here.
For details on the Barton family, click here.
Stedman Family in Colonial North America:
The first known Stedman immigrant to America is documented to have come from Biddenden, Kent.
The Stedmans in North America cannot trace their ancestry to a single immigrant ancestor and DNA evidence shows that the colonial families seem to have been biologically different before they arrived in North America. For example, we have documented three distinct families in Massachusetts and one in Connecticut that arrived by 1650. By the time of the Revolutionary War, many other families had also arrived in various parts of the Colonies.
The only currently pre-Revolutionary War Stedmans in Canada were the Capt. John Stedman family who went from South Kingstown, Rhode Island, to Nova Scotia about 1761 after the French and Indian War.
There is some evidence of some Stedmans – probably Barton-Steadmans – who may have settled in the West Indies during the colonial period.
For a roadmap to understanding the various families, click American Colonial Stedman Families.
After the American Revolution, numerous Stedman families came to America. In addition, many Stedmans went from Britain to India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the British Empire. These are documented in the genealogies.
The genealogies are currently divided into two trees. One represents the Stedman families descended from Stedman immigrants who came to North America in the Colonial period. The other tree is everyone else descended from a British family, including post-Revolutionary War immigrations from Britain. Most of the colonial families cannot yet be traced to their roots in Britain. Some overlap will exist when we can trace the family back and we have documentation of the family both in Britain and America.