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It is possible today to visit the home of my 11th great-grandfather, Augustine Steward. He was a successful mercer and mayor or Norwich.
Augustine Steward (1491 – 1571)
Elizabeth Steward (1528 – 1575)
daughter of Augustine Steward
Augustine Jarnigo Sotherton (1553 – 1585)
son of Elizabeth Steward
Elizabeth Southerton (1582 – 1628)
daughter of Augustine Jarnigo Sotherton
Margaret Warner (1615 – 1649)
daughter of Elizabeth Southerton
Captain William GARTON (1635 – 1709)
son of Margaret Warner
Margaret Garton (1678 – 1773)
daughter of Captain William GARTON
Thomas Morris (1730 – 1791)
son of Margaret Garton
Joanna Morris (1762 – 1839)
daughter of Thomas Morris
John Samuel Taylor (1798 – 1873)
son of Joanna Morris
William Ellison Taylor (1839 – 1918)
son of John Samuel Taylor
George Harvey Taylor (1884 – 1941)
son of William Ellison Taylor
Ruby Lee Taylor (1922 – 2008)
daughter of George Harvey Taylor
I am the daughter of Ruby Lee Taylor
Augustine Steward was born in 1491 in the Tombland house opposite the Erpingham Gate of Norwich Cathedral. His father, Geoffrey, was a Norwich mercer and alderman. Shortly after Augustine’s birth the family moved from Tombland to a prestigious, stone-built house (Suckling House) in St. Andrews. Augustine was apprenticed to his father, who died in 1504. Augustine’s mother then married John Clerk, a rich merchant and grocer. John was mayor of Norwich in 1505 and in 1510. Augustine’s mother traded as Cecily Clerk with her own registered merchant’s mark.
A successful mercer
Augustine, known as Austen, became a highly successful Norwich mercer, who signed himself Awstyne Styward. He married twice and lived in the Tombland house where he was born. His first wife was Elizabeth Read of Beccles with whom he had a family of two sons and six daughters. His second wife, Alice Repps, from West Walton gave him a son and two daughters. Augustine was a Norwich councillor from 1522 to 1525, an alderman from 1526 to 1570 and Sheriff in 1526, He was Mayor in 1534, 1546 and 1556, a record that was only equalled by two other men within the sixteenth century. Augustine was also M.P for Norwich in 1542 and a Burgess in Parliament in 1547. During the sixteenth century, the office of mayor meant undertaking a demanding, full-time task for a year. A mayor’s own business had to be successful and so arranged that it could run without him. The mayor was expected to use his personal funds for some civic hospitality. However, the Corporation did stage a three-part show to mark Steward’s third term in office. It was recognised that Augustine had ‘allwayes ben a good and modest man, hee was beloved of poore and rich’.
Rebuilding the Guildhall
Steward’s influence was prominent in the 1534 rebuilding of the Council Chamber of Norwich Guildhall. He was involved with purchasing Black Friars Church, (St. Andrew’s Hall), from the Crown, for Norwich. A 1540 charter conveyed the Black Friar’s Monastery to the city for £81, paid by ‘our beloved Augustine Steward, of our city of Norwich, merchant.’ A portrait of Augustine in his mayoral robes can be seen in the Blackfriar’s wing of St. Andrew’s Hall.
During Kett’s Rebellion in 1549, Augustine Steward played a leading part in negotiations between the rebels and the King’s army. Mayor Thomas Codde, who had been taken prisoner on Mousehold Heath by the rebels, appointed Steward his deputy. The Marquis of Northampton, representing the King, was entertained in Steward’s house. A plaque on the cathedral wall marks the spot, not far from Augustine’s house, where the rebels killed Lord Sheffield and Sir Thomas Cornwallis. Some of Kett’s followers ransacked Steward’s house but did not harm him. The Earl of Warwick used the house as his headquarters when he put down the rebellion.
Augustine Steward House
Steward’s home, opposite the cathedral, is a fine, surviving example of a successful Tudor merchant’s trading-house with goods stored in the stone undercroft and a shop or workshop at street level. The family lived in the upper storeys. Augustine’s house is jettied, and the timbers have warped over time giving the house a crooked appearance. An upper wing of brick, timber and plaster is built across Tombland Alley. Here you can see Augustine’s merchant mark and that of the mercer’s guild embossed on a corner stone, together with the date, 1549. Through the arch, the old house timbers are exposed and the carpenters’ marks can be seen, denoting the order in which the timbers were assembled on-site after being pre-cut in a timber yard. After Steward’s death in 1571, the house became in turn, a butcher’s, a broker’s, an antique dealer’s, a bookshop and a coffee house. At present it houses several antique dealers. Allegedly, there are underground passages leading from the crypt to the Cathedral and also to St. Gregory’s church. The ghost of a ‘Lady in Grey,’ a 1578 plague victim, is said to haunt the house.
A man of property
Augustine Steward owned Norfolk manors at Gowthorpe and at Welborne. His estate around Tombland extended along the north and west sides of St. George’s churchyard into Prince’s Street and included the site of an ancient inn. In later life he resided in a large, quadrangle house that he had built on Elm Hill, on the site of Paston Place originally owned by the Paston family. In 1507 all the houses on Elm Hill, except the modern Briton’s Arms, had been destroyed by fire. Augustine’s new house occupied the area now sub-divided into numbers 20, 22, 24 and 26. The carved beam over the archway of Crown Court bears Augustine Steward’s merchant mark on the right and the arms of the mercer’s guild on the left. Augustine Steward was buried in the church of St Peter Hungate.
The house on Tombland where Augustine Steward was born still exists and has been called Augustine Steward House. It is generally reputed to date to 1530, however Marion Hardy, in an unpublished biography of Steward, discloses an earlier date for the house in the 1504 will of Augustine’s father, in which the house was mentioned as the location of Steward’s birth in 1491. Perhaps the 1491 house was damaged in the 1507 fires of Norwich and Augustine Steward re-built in 1530.
Blomefield F, The History of the City and County of Norwich, Volume 2. (Norwich 1745).
Hardy, M. Austen Steward of Norwich, unpublished partial manuscript.
Jones, W. H. A Quaint Corner of Old Norwich: Samson and Hercules and AugustineSteward’s Houses, Norwich, 1900.
Kennet, H. Elm Hill, Norwich: The Story of its Tudor Buildings and the People who Lived in them, ecollectit Ltd, Harleston, 2006.
Rawcliffe, C. and R. Wilson, (eds), Medieval Norwich, Hambledon and London, London, 2004.
Solomons, G. Stories Behind the Plaques of Norwich, Capricorn Books, Cantley,1981.
From “Genealogies of Virginia Families” vol. 5, page 546. Eldest son, Mercer, sheriff 1526, mayor 1534, 1546, 1556, M.P. 1541. Buried 1571 St. Peter Hungate.
Hi. Augustine is my 12 x great grandfather 🙂 I am a descendant through his daughter Cecily who married Ralph Shelton. My line comes down through the Sheltons, Cookes and Stones, until Elizabeth Stone married Stephen Butcher my 3 x great grandfather in 1808. So nice to find another descendant! I too have visited both his houses in Norwich 🙂
It was wonderful to walk through the little alleyway from the front to the back of the house and to know that Augustine would have walked through it too! His other house is lovely too! We went to the Guildhall too but I couldnt find his portrait….maybe next time 🙂
Do you live in England Pamela? i wrote a book about my Stone family (Cicely Steward’s granddaughter married into the Stone family ) which we illustrated with about 200 photos and documents!!. Had a glorious week in Norfolk getting lost in the maze of lanes, visiting dozens of churches, (one lady vicar even rolled up the carpet in the aisle for me so i could see the slate ledger stones to my family on the floor!). We found many of the houses where my ancestors had lived (and got invited in to several of them) and, as I say,, had a day in Norwich, as i wanted to find Augustine Steward’s houses. Not sure when i will do it again but very easy to get to Norwich by car, or even train. Highly recommend it – definitely brings an ancestor to life for you 🙂 I have Augustine’s will if you would like a copy of the transcript? Just let me know. Lovely to meet you…the wonders of the internet 🙂
We came to Arizona in 2015 ! We did the Grand Circle of the American West and visited lots of National Parks in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado, including Wupatki, Monument Valley and a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon 🙂 Loved the area – would go again in a flash!! I could try to paste the transcribed will here – but probably better if you email direct to me so I have an email address to send it to. Completely up to you 🙂 Will wait to see what you say! You and I are lucky because, once you find a famous ancestor back in Tudor times, you are likely to find a lot more! I have too, including a connection to Ann Boleyn! Looking forward to hearing from you..Rosie
Oh yes! I believe it may be on Ancestry as it’s a PCC will! That’s good! Enjoy!! it mentions your Elizabeth Steward 1528 but before she is married. Would be exciting to have a Mayflower ancestor 🙂 Keep in touch! Best wishes Rosie
Just looked him up on Wikipedia…what a nice man he looks! Painted by Hans Holbein! I have some ancestors painted by Holbein too! What high circles we both come from!! Mine include the Wyatt family. (Sir Henry Wyatt was my 13 x gg)and Sir Anthony Lee; my 12 x gg , both famous men in the Court of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Sir Anthony was married to Margaret Wyatt who accompanied Anne Boleyn to her execution. Anne gave her her prayer book before she was executed. I also have links to Horatio Nelson and lots of other notable people…..it ‘s good when you come across families like this because they all made wills, which makes it easy to trace their ancestors and descendants. I have been tracing my family for over 30 years! Never imagined I would get this far! I even have one possible link to a knight who was the godfather of William the conquerer and came over with him in 1066…. All good fun! 🙂
I was thinking how very much the portrait of Augustine Steward looks like Steve Coogan, and his alter-ego, Alan Partridge.
For anyone interested in this, Augustine was my 12 x great grandfather.through his daughter Cecily..What a great and interesting man he was.. We visited his two houses in Norwich a few years ago when I was writing a book about that side of my family.. I have transcribed his will, and also the will of his father Geoffrey and also of his grandfather Austen Boys. Do let me know if you would like a copy.. Best wishes Rosie Frost