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KEY

TO THE

ABBREVIATIONS AND THE SYSTEM OF NOTATION.

<z. — aged.

b. — born.

d. — died.

dau. daughter.

m. — married.

nie. — maiden name.

/. — further particulars concerning the individual numbered, respecting marriage, family, fortune, etc., may be found under the same number as it occurs in the following generation over the top of the name.

s. p. — no children.

The numerals I., II., Ill., IV., etc., indicate the birth of each child in order, as far as possible. The figure over the top of each family forms an easy reference backward to the same numeral in the left-hand margin on the page where the birth and parentage are recorded ; while this figure before the name and date of birth indicates as well where the marriage and family record of that individual, or the fuller history, may be found under the same number in its regular order of sequence (in the next generation) over the top of the family of which he or she becomes a head.

The figures in the first index refer to the number attached to each individual Steere in the list, not to the page.

STEERE GENEALOGY.

CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTORY.

Now to the sessions of sweet silent thought,
I summon up remembrance of things past.

Shakespeare, Sonnets.

OT many years since it was deemed an indication of undue pride or of aristocratic feeling for Americans to seek to be acquainted with family history, or to trace out their ancestry. Connected with the establishing and strengthening of our republican institutions there was naturally a deep love of democratic equality, and especially in the State of Rhode Island, which in its extreme activity led men to look with disfavor upon any researches of this nature as tending to promote a feeling of caste, or an assumption of superiority. The trend of public sentiment at the present time is very widely in the direction of the researches that were so much neglected by the fathers, and still that are so important in their historical results. Yet there are those who even now possess or affect a contempt for the study of family history, who boast of their ignorance of their origin, and regard it as a mark of folly or weakness to institute any diligent search respecting remote ancestral lines, who consider themselves sufficiently well informed if they can tell the names of some of their grandparents. Indifference to such researches might indeed be pardoned in the case of the young, whose impetuous glance is cast toward the future rather than the past; but in those who have reached the sober periods of mature life such indifference indicates a serious defect of character. To be unmindful of those who have preceded us, and with whose lives we are so vitally connected, is no mark of greatness of soul, as it is no evidence of true wisdom. As men grow toward middle life and the friends of youth and early manhood one by one pass away, it is natural that those who remain should gather up the memorials or even the fragments of family history still existing, and cherish them according to their value. The noblest minds have regarded the pursuit of such studies in a broad humanitarian spirit as productive of ennobling results. Says Webster, " It is wise to recur to our ancestors. Those who do not look upon themselves as a link connecting the past with the future do not do their duty to the world." Wrote Macaulay, " People who take no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered by remote descendants."

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"In treasuring up the memorials of the fathers, we but manifest our regard for posterity." * If such researches should be made to foster a weak pride and a mean arrogance, they could not be commended; but if, as we believe, they are calculated to promote truer, better lives through the contemplation of the virtues of our progenitors and the natural impulse to follow the good examples set before us, it is a matter of congratulation that so many are engaged in this department of historical study. There is a kind of pride, indeed, that is an elevating force in society. To know that one is descended from the honest yeomen who fled from persecution in England or France to America, and once more removed from the pressure of the persecuting spirit newly developed in Massachusetts to Rhode Island; to trace back to men who showed such undaunted courage and determined perseverance in the face of intimidation from their fellow-citizens and threatened dangers from savages, affords a justifiable occasion for the possession of honest feelings of pride. Similarly, a desire to be remembered by those coming after us as having contributed something to the welfare of the world and the happiness of those about us is not an unworthy motive, and should not be so regarded. Thus genealogical science gathers up all the valuable remaining records of the past, and hands them down to the future not only for safe-keeping, but for the development of the social virtues in the generations to come. Certainly, if there is a basis in nature for the theories of heredity which have been promulgated by scientists in our day, it is well worth while for each one to know what are the human sources of his strength or weakness, as far as that may be determined by the lives of his progenitors.t The relation of such researches to the welfare and stability of the family is not unimportant. As no registry of families is possible where the principles of communistic philosophy have permeated and disintegrated society, such studies tend to antagonize the spirit that would break down the wise and hopeful restraints of the family state, while they promote feelings of fellowship and unity among the branches of the common stock. Instead of fostering narrowness and selfishness, the strengthening of such ties helps to develop the spirit of brotherhood everywhere, and especially between the various descendants of Rhode Island settlers, in the knowledge of the close alliances that have existed from the very first between these families.

• Rev. Abner Morse. tainly as in his bodily potentialities and disposi

f "Everybody testifies of his forefathers in the tions."—Henry Maudsley, in Fortnightly Review. potentialities and dispositions of his mind as cer

When genealogical researches shall have gathered up the abundant materials which even now lie buried among the neglected treasures of the household, a vast addition will be made to the common store from which historical science draws its facts, illustrates its pages, and deduces its principles.

^tzwi-eA d^be-ic-e <Sf$&&^.

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CHAPTER II.

THE STEERES OF ENGLAND.

Though ages long have past

Since our Fathers left their home,
Their pilot in the blast,
O'er untravelled seas to roam,
Yet lives the blood of England in our veins!
And shall we not proclaim
That blood of honest fame
Which no tyranny can tame
By its chains?

Washington Allston.

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IRADITIONS that have come down in the different branches of the American line are divided as to whether the first emigrant came from England or Wales. The preponderance of testimony in this direction is in favor of the former as the birthplace of John Steere, and the additional facts that the Welsh annals and histories are, so far as known, silent as to any of this name, and that some of the English local histories frequently make mention of families of Steeres, give strength to the presumption that the patronymic is an English one. The origin of the name itself is involved in much obscurity, but it is suggested by Lower in his "English Surnames,"* that our Anglo-Saxon ancestors sometimes gave as sobriquets to individuals the names of birds, beasts, natural objects, etc. "With respect to the more modern and regular surnames of this sort, they generally occur in the mediaeval records, with the Norman-French prefix 'le' as Roger le Buck, Nicholas le Hart, Richard le Stere, Adam le Fox, &c. In their primary applications they were sobriquets, allusive either to the characteristic qualities of their persons or incidents in their lives." Surnames became fully settled in use among the common people in the reign of Edward the Second (i307-1327). Yet centuries before those distinguished in position had settled surnames. Levenot Sterre (1004-1066) was possessor of the manor of Bradestun or Breaston.t Godwin le Ster was tenant of Navestock in 1222. Hagenilda, the relict of Geoffrey le Ster, was also tenant at Navestock4 From Cumins's "History of Hertfordshire " § we learn that the

* Vol. I, p. 19. % Domesday of St. Paul, pp. 78, 79. Camden So

f Lysons' Magna Britannia, 4to, vol. 5, p. xxxvi. ciety's Pub., 1858.

§ Vol. 3, p. 42.

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