The Stearns surname

While researching our ancestors I was having a difficult time finding any information on the World Wide Web. So I started looking through my papers and found out that the Stearns name was spelled differently, so why wouldn’t that be the case on the web.

The Stearns name has been written as Stearns, Sternes, Sterns, Starns; all off-shoots of the name Sterne. The names were spelt as they were spoken, thus each regional accent would affect the spelling. The early spelling of the name in town records and even in Winthrop’s journal was written as Sterne.

The will of our ancestor Isaac Stearns was written as Sterns. I will use our current spelling, “Stearns” with notations of other spellings as found in documents. This will make it less confusing to follow the story.

Sterns is mostly found in England, Starns and Sterns is found in the southern part of the United States and Stearns is mainly a New England version of the name.

The Stearns name is appropriate for our ancestors, as it means to be stern, strict, severe or uncompromising. The current generations are learning to be a little less so. That backbone is what helped form this nation. Look for my next post on Isaac Stearns, the first generation to arrive in America.


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