William and Eleanors first child, a son, William was born in 1831 at Whitehill Point, North Shields, and was baptised on 23 October – the records are extracted from the Tynemouth Parish Register . He had three siblings:
Elizabeth, born 1834 at Milbourn Place and baptised Dec 21, 1834
Mary Ann, born 1836 at Milbourn Place and baptised June10, 1836,
Elenor born 23 dec1837 at Coble Dean and baptised Feb 14, 1838.
William was noted as a husbandman on William, Elizabeth and Eleanor’s baptism records, but on the baptism record of Mary Ann he was noted as a Mariner, which was an interesting diversion.
The streets where the family lived are long gone now, hidden by the building of Tyne Commissioners Quay and the Albert Edward Dock, but they must have been simple houses, and of necessity close to Williams work.
Eleanor Davison Wharrier was the daughter of Matthew Wharrier b. 1791 and she had a brother George b.1817. Their father, Matthew was born in Bothal in Northumberland, where the Wharrier family have lived for hundreds of years. He moved south to the Tyne however, and was first listed as a Husbandman, and later as a labourer on the census returns of 1851. By the 1861 census he was also a Steamship Owner.
It is possible that William Stephenson (b.1801) and Matthew Wharrier worked together in Tyneside as husbandmen, perhaps with the dray animals who moved the coal wagons from the pits down to the coal staithes before steam engines were installed.
Eleanor Davison Wharrier was born in 1813, and having given birth to four children during her marriage to William Stephenson, died at the age of 26 of smallpox. She was buried on the 9th January 1839 at Tynemouth cemetery.
The young family were scattered but we can find them on the 1841 census all in the township of Chirton. William aged 9 is living with his grandfather and grandmother Mathew and Elizabeth Wharrier.
Mary Ann aged 5 and Ellen aged 3 are living with their grandparents William Stephenson (1780) and Ann Stephenson (1780) at Whitehill Point, Chirton. In this house is a William Stephenson but his age is given as 30 and he is a coal miner. Elizabeth Stephenson aged 7 is also in Chirton but living with Thomas and Elizabeth Coates. They have a daughter Frances Coates who had married little Elizabeth’s uncle George Wharrier (b. 1817) in 1840. George and Frances are living at Milbourn Place, Chirton.
By the time of the 1851 census William Stephenson (b. 1801) and Sarah Riggs are living as man and wife at Lime Kiln Shore, Chirton. William is now a steam boat owner. He has his daughter Eleanor (b. 1838) from his first marriage living with him, two of his other children William and Elizabeth being at their grandparents , the Wharriers. He also has another two children Sarah aged 7 (b. 1843) and George aged 5 (b. 1845). Although I can find a birth for George as the son of William and his second wife Sarah , Sarah’s birth certificate names her as Sarah Stevenson Riggs, father unknown. I think there was an attempt to give her the Stephenson name, but it must have been known that her parents were not at that time married.
Note on the birth certificate of George in 1845 his father is listed as a labourer – six years later he was a steam boat owner.