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Monday, November 17, 2014

Thomas Sterry of Faversham, Kent finally finds a home

Every now and then one manages to find that extra little piece of the puzzle that brings all the other pieces together that have been lying about on the table for many years.

I happened to be looking at some STERRY Apprentice records from the 1600s on an excellent and free website - Records of London's Livery Companies Online - Apprentices and Freemen 1400-1900

I found some entries from the Mercers Company that I had not seen before and this one in particular:

STERRY Thomas, New Apprentice [Father] Thomas Sterry, Clerk, Finesham Kent, dead [Master] Thomas Threkeld, Co Mercer [Apprenticeship Year] 1664 [Bond] 7 years from 24 June next

By the way, Wikipedia most helpfully tells me: The Worshipful Company of Mercers is the premier Livery Company of the City of London and ranks first in the order of precedence of the Companies. It is the first of the so-called 'Great Twelve City Livery Companies'. The Company's aim was to act as a trade association for general merchants, and especially for exporters of wool and importers of velvet, silk and other luxurious fabrics (mercers). By the 16th century many members of the Company had lost any connection with the original trade.

I remembered a Will of a Thomas Sterry of Faversham, Kent proved in 1653 that had never been attributed to any Sterry family line. A transcription of the Will is on the Sterry website -

However, as this Thomas owned land in Ruardean, he almost certainly belonged to the Ruardean, Gloucestershire family line.

But Walter Sterry in his book 'The Sterry Family of America 1670-1970' published back in 1973 was unable to place this Thomas into the Ruardean line.

When this young Thomas was apprenticed in 1664, as were most apprentices at this time, he was probably aged 15-18, so born 1646-1649. And since I could find no place called Finesham in Kent, I decided this might very well be a mistranscription of Faversham. And I had previously found this baptism of a Thomas Sterry in Faversham:

Faversham St Mary of Charity
1648 Mar 10 Thomas son of Thomas Sterry a gentleman and Anne

Walter Smith had also noted in regards this Thomas Sterry of Faversham that Thomas "entered Oxford University in June 1639, aged 18 "son of John Sterry of London, gent" So we knew Thomas Sterry senior was born abt 1621. We also knew from the Will of Thomas Sterry junior that his father was John Sterry. [Walter Smith somehow got it wrong and thought the father was Joseph. That's why he never made the connection.] And we already have a John Sterry baptised 11 Feb 1619/20 at Saint Saviours, Southwark, Surrey, England, the son of John Sterry [1594-1672] and Margaret Weston.

This has to be our man!

Of course now that leads to further research. We know from his Will that Thomas Sterry of Faversham had four sons - Benjamin, Samuel, Thomas and Charles. Can we trace any of their lines? We also know from the Will that Thomas owned land in Ruardean, Gloucestershire and in the Liberty of Ely in Cambridgeshire in the parish of March. The Will suggests that this land in Cambridgeshire may have been inherited through his wife, Anne French. Can we locate any land records? And finally Walter Smith tracked down this piece of military detail on Thomas Sterry that might provide further clues:

 'From British Council of State proceedings we know that Thomas was commissioned on August 22, 1650 to be a militia Captain of county Kent. Further, on November 18, 1650 or 1651 the Council resolved to approve "what Capt. Sterry and the Mayor of Faversham have done in detaining James Greenstreet, and to require that witnesses be examined who can testify as to correspondence between Robert Greenstreet and his son"'.

There is another baptism at Faversham St Mary of Charity of Thomas' brother that confirms this connection:
1650 Jan 16 Charles son of Captain Thomas Sterry and Anne