The name Stearns, Sternes, Sterns, Starns, etc., is a variation or corruption of the name Sterne, which has been affected in this country based most likely on the pronunciation and extended to writing of the name. In the early town and county records the name is written Sterne, inWinthrop’s Journal it is also written Sterne. “It is also a well known name in the counties of Nottingham, Berks,Norfolk, Hertford, Suffolkand,CambridgeEngland, but the name Stearns has not occurred in any English work.” In the will of Isaac Stearns (1) of the first generation Volume 1 of Van Wagenen, the name is spelled Sterns, the surplus terminal “s” being sometimes used inEngland. The variations Starns and Starns, is distinctly southern, while very few have retained the original correct spelling. The varied spellings will be used as viewed by this writer from records and families histories of English descent. In 1901, every instance where the lineage of this family has been traced back, it has been to one of the following: Isaac, Charles or Nathaniel, what relationship existed between the three is not known. Isaac in his will refer to Charles as “my kinsman;” it is noticeable that all three named theirs sons, Isaac, Samuel and John, while the sons of Isaac, named their sons, Nathaniel. (10)
Van Wagenen notes that letters written in 1893 state that the Bond History three brother story is familiar, but goes on to also write that a Dr. Phineas Sewall Stearns of Buffalo, New York in November 1893, “My father, Samuel, who was born in 1784, assured me that it was a positive fact that the original Isaac, Charles and Nathaniel were brothers,” and many others have given similar testimony. (6)
The only listing in 1885 for Daniel Stearns was on page 268, Suffolk Deeds IV, 17 May 1662. It reads that “Thomas Clark sold a parcel of land inBoston,Massachusetts, bounded southeast bylandofDaniel Sternes.” It is believed, based on Ezra Stearns 1901 Genealogy that the three Stearns brothers, Isaac, Daniel and Shubael came toAmericatogether. Daniel died unmarried and without issue; Shubael and his wife died, leaving two sons, Charles and Nathaniel, in the care of their uncle Isaac. In 1855, neither Van Wagenen nor Ezra Stearns could trace Isaac Stearns parentage.
I have found two web sites claiming Isaac as their ancestor and lineage toEngland. Cookie Crumbs Ancestry of Isaac Stearns lists his father as Thomas Stearns b. about 1550-1555, d. before 30 Jun 1599, mother, Dorothy Plampin b. about 1555, d. Feb 1617/18. It lists Isaac being baptized 3 Oct 1595 at Fordham,Essex,England. No siblings are mentioned for Isaac on this site. It does mention his marriage to Mary Barker and the children they had. The second site genealogy.com Descendants of William Stearns, Sr. mention his father as William Stearns, Jr b. 1571, Levenham, England, d. 1632 in England, mother Emma Ramsford b. before 1598 in Englandand died in England, no death year listed. Children listed were Shubael b. about 1598, Isle of Wright County, England, d. 1630 Watertown, Massachusetts, Isaac b. 25 Feb 1599/1600, Daniel no information. It continues on with Shubael and his descendants with no further information on Isaac except in the endnote that eludes to verification of information to Van Wagenen Genealogy and Memoirs of Charles and Nathaniel Stearns and their descendants (1901) starting “soon after arrival in America, Shubael and his wife died, leaving their two young sons to be raised by their uncle Isaac Stearns.”
The Thomas Stearns information was credited to five citations; The ancestry of Dr. J.P. Guilford, Volume II, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Fifty Great Migrations to New England & their Origins, Bond’s -Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts and the Ancestors of Michael Edward Dobson.
This writer has not been able to confirm or deny either link to Isaac Stearns based on recent research. The mention of both Isaac’s parentage possibilities for future generations to explore as more historical information is gathered. When first collecting information on the Stearns family heritage this writer was using the Erza Stearns Genealogies, library catalogs and the Bureau of Vital Records inConcord,New Hampshire. In more recent years as Internet genealogy sites and family histories appear, this writer has been able to gather more information. Genealogy is an ongoing learning experience and journey to finding those lost souls that are screaming to be found.
SOURCES FOR THE STEARNS FAMILY HISTORY
To be used for past and future posts
Eleanor Mae Stearns-Duncan, Shirley Pease-Stearns and June Lee Stearns-Butka Records and Interviews with Family members
1. History ofMerrimack,New Hampshire
2. History ofGoffstown,New Hampshire
3. History ofAmherst,New Hampshire
4. History ofWatertown,Massachusetts
5. “The Great Migration Begins, Record 5, NEHGS Register, “Isaac Stearns”
6. Genealogy and Memoirs of Isaac Stearns and his descendants by Avis Stearns Van Wagenen [note this genealogy is not completely accurate for theNew Hampshireline]
7. Family search link
8.Massachusetts BayColony Charter Link
TheWinthropFleet of 1630 (An Account of the Vesselseake,
Robert Fien English Homes from Original Authorities) by Charles Edward Banks
10. Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire compiled by Erza Stearns 1901 Volume 1 pg 385-394
11. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ancestral File (R), Copyright (c) 1987, June 1998, data as of 5 January 1998.
June Stearns Butka has hard copies of marriage records, birth certificates, death certificates, baptismal records, Census sheets and other pieces of Stearns history that include books, letters and poems written by family members over the years. Adjustment and corrections for theNew Hampshireline of Isaac Stearns were made where needed during research.