maandag 19 oktober 2009

Stephensons Chapter 6 - Steamboatmen

The census returns and marriage certificates begin to build up a picture of the family, and their links to the river Tyne.

In 1851 William Stephenson (b. 1901) was listed as a Steam boat owner, by 1861 Marthew Wharrier, Williams father-in-law by his first wife, is also listed as a steam boat owner. How did they manage to buy steam tugs, and how much did a tug cost? The extract below shows that small tugs could be purchased for a few hundred pounds, but as William and Matthew had earlier both been described as husbandmen and labourers, they must have had to work very hard to get the money together for their first steam boats.


PRO RAIL 830/12

13.1.1852 193.

The Committee took into their consideration the question of steam haulage on the canal on Mr Inshaw’s plan and the reports of Mr Lake and Mr Morris. The following motion was made by Mr William Fane deSalis Esq., “That the subject of steam haulage be referred to the Traffic Committee and that they have the authority to order a single tug, it being understood that the cost of such a tug is not to exceed £500. An amendment was proposed by Mr deSalis “to the Traffic Committee, that they ascertain what terms the brickmakers will contract to pay for haulage simply whether by steam or by horse power and to report also the cost of a steam tug and the model of building same.”

William’s Second wife Sarah Riggs, could not have had much money either, although her father was a trained cabinet maker, according to her christening record she was born in Milburn Place in Chirton, not a wealthy area. In addition her father died before her marriage to William, so any inheritance would have been shared between herself and her brother before her marriage.

Nevertheless Wiliam Stephenson and Matthew Wharrier both became steam boat owners in their later years, possibly both their sons were willing to operate the boats for them, and build up the fleet. Matthews son, George was a steam boat master, and William was a steam boat man in the 1951 census.
The father of Sarah Hudson who married William Stephenson (b 1831) was a labourer and Streamboat man, his son was an engineer. We already know that William (b.1801) married two of his daughters, first Mary Ann in 1856 and then after she died Eleanor (Ellen) to John Edward Nesbitt, a boat builder.
The final marriage was that of George (b. 1845) to Margaret Ann Smart. Margaret Ann’s father was a very successful man, and once George took over the business in the 1890’s he went into partnership with him, and formed the company Stephenson Smart. They operated very streamlined tugs, and had a large fleet.

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