Robert Stephenson Trust
c/o The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, Neville Hall, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE
Email: rstrust@robertstephensontrust.com

Some notes on the name Stephenson

The name Stephenson is quite widespread in England but it is most prevalent in the North, particularly Durham and Yorkshire.

The spelling with ph or v was not considered important up to the early nineteenth century as the entries in the Parish registers were spelled as the vicar or parish clerk thought fit. It became more important as time went on with better education. Other spellings that are met with are Steavenson and Steenson. Our family, by tradition, came from Scotland, where it is fairly common, although there it is more often spelt with a v.

By the 1880s it is estimated that there were over 2000 nuclear families with the name Stephenson, consisting of parents and several children. No doubt many of these can be connected, depending how far back in time one searches.  However, there can be no doubt that in the period of surname formation a number of different families were formed, as there must have been several Stephens who had sons.

Unfortunately our family cannot be traced with certainty before the marriage of “Old Bob” Stephenson in 1778, although there have been several suggestions but none proved.

The question of descendants is complicate by the marriage of daughters as they change their name to that of the husband, and this depends on the proportion of daughters to sons. In our family there are four times as many descendants who do not have the name Stephenson than those who do.