I took this photo of the tombstone for Stephen Read and his wife Elizabeth (nee Sanders) in 2000 and although I had no idea then that he was actually one of my ancestors, I sort of had a feeling that he was.
They are buried in the churchyard at Great Milton in Oxfordshire and at the time Stephen and Elizabeth were the only Reads I could find buried there. (It wasn’t until a few years later that I discovered that my ancestors Edward Read and his wife Mary (nee Tanner) were also buried in the same place although we did not come across their graves.
Stephen became a bit of a brick wall. I found him and Elizabeth in the Censuses. They did not appear to have had children. He worked as a Harness Maker and in the various Censuses there are one or two others living with Stephen and Elizabeth who are apprentice Harness Makers or assistants etc.. Also living with them in one Census (1851) was Elizabeth Larner. She also became a bit of a brick wall too.
I found her in an earlier Census (1841) living with a different Stephen Read and his wife Ann (Nanny) (nee Rose) in Thame, Oxfordshire. This Stephen was the youngest of all my 6 x great grandfather Cozens Read’s twenty children and was the only one to appear in a Census. So, I wondered, is the Harness Maker Stephen related to Cozens Read’s youngest child? Especially as at one time they each had Elizabeth Larner living with them?
Time went on and I looked at this photo often to see if there were any clues as to who Stephen belonged to. At the time I did not know his wife’s maiden name either!
More time and more searching went on and eventually I found that Stephen the Harness Maker was in fact the grandson of Stephen and Ann (Nanny) Read and so also the great grandson of Cozens Read. It also turned out that Elizabeth Larner was the Aunt of Stephen the Harness Maker! (And so at more or less the same time the brick wall I managed to break down with Stephen was also the same wall I managed to break down with Elizabeth Larner as she is the daughter of Stephen and Ann (Nanny) Read.
Stephen’s wife Elizabeth was a Great Milton girl and they married there on 2nd December 1850 and lived there for the rest of their lives. I have never found any children for them and as they are in all the Censuses until they each die, there have never been any children living with them at all, so I think it is fairly safe to say they were childless.
The Inscription on their tombstone is:
The Memory Of
who died Jan. 31. 1888
Aged 74 years
wife of the above
who died (and this then goes down into the grass – but Elizabeth died in December 1878)
There is also a footstone which reads:
S. R. 1888
E. R. 1878
(next wording is unreadable)
Stephen was about four years old when his own father, also Stephen, died aged 30.
It took a number of years to discover who Stephen the Harness Maker belonged to, but the original feeling that I had that he was one of mine proved correct!!