Thomas Stearns

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Thomas Stearns, whose ancestry is unknown (or not traced here), was born at England, between 1550 and 1555.1 He died before 28 May 1599,2 when he was buried at Fordham, Essex, England.2

Thomas married Dorothy Plampin, daughter of John Plampin, about 1576.3

In 2003, Guilford reported new, but unpublished research by John Brooks Threlfall that uncovered the ancestry of Isaac Stearns. However, Threlfall later did publish his work, in 2007.

As reported by Guilford and seen in Threlfall's article, he used parish registers of Fordham and adjacent parishes, Stoke by Nayland, & Raydon; probate records of Chelmsford & Bury St. Edmunds; wills of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, and Suffolk Green Books. Some, but not all, of these references do have further specific citations.

Threlfall suggests Thomas may be the son of Charles Stearns, buried 17 March 1577/8 at Cockfield, Suffolk, intestate (and apparently no surviving administration papers) but offers no evidence to support his theory. There are some wills and conveyances involving various Stearns from 1462 to 1499, but these seem too early to be relevant. There is no analysis to support this theory, nor reasoning for identifying and collecting six children for Charles.4,5

Thomas left a will dated 20 May 1599, and proved 30 June 1599 as abstracted by Threlfall (paragraphing added for clarity):
20 May 1599 - the will of THOMAS STERNE of Much Fordham; county Essex, yeoman, being sick in body

. . . unto the poor of Much Fordham 10s. within one month after the probate of this my will

. . . unto Dorothie Sterne my wife £40 within three months

. . . she shall have her dwelling in my farm and the profit made of twenty of my milk beast to be pastured, fed and kept in and upon the lands belonging to my said farm until Michaelmas next

. . . unto the said Dorothie all the white meat in my house, ten bushels of wheat, ten bushels of myslen and eighteen bushels of malt toward the maintenance and keeping of the house and bringing up of her children until the same feast

. . . unto Thomas Sterne my son £35 within ten months next after my decease

. . . also my right, title and term of years in certain tithes belonging to the parsonage of Much Tey

. . . also one posted bedstead, a feather bed, a bolster of feathers, a coverlet, a little framed table and two joined stools to be delivered unto him within twelve days next after the probate of this my will

. . . unto Anne Sterne and Dorothie Sterne my daughters £20 each at age 21

. . . unto the said Anne Sterne my daughter the posted bedstead, the feather bed, the bolster of feathers, the coverlet and the framed table which came from Coxall [i.e. Coggeshall] and one stone pot tipped with silver to be delivered within one week after probate of this will

. . . unto the said Anne Sterne one cow at Michaelmas next, the said Anne to take her choice

. . . to Dorothie Sterne my daughter a silver cup and one joined chest standing in the chamber where I lie

. . . unto William Sterne, Charles Sterne, Richard Sterne, David Sterne, Dorcas Sterne, and Felix Sterne my children, to every one of them £15 at age 21 .

. . . to Marie Sterne, Susanne Sterne and Isaac Sterne my children, to every of them £15 which I will shall be paid unto Dorothie my wife to their use within five months next after my decease, whom I will shall have the keeping and bringing up of them until age 21. . . then their legacies aforesaid

. . . unto the said Marie Sterne my daughter one bond of £5 wherein one Robert Richardson standeth bounden unto me in one obligation of the penal sum of £10 for the payment thereof at mid summer next

. . . unto the said Marie Sterne a posted bedstead that I lie on, a feather bed, a bolster and a coverlet

. . . unto Dorothie my wife my black nag, a sorrel year old horse colt, sixteen silver spoons, a silver gilt salt, a pot tipped with silver, residue of household stuff unbequeathed to be equally divided between Dorothie my wife and my said children

. . . said wife's part and my son Thomas's part to be paid within two months, wife's part to be paid first, the rest to be paid to children as they reach age 21, except the portions of Marie, Susanne and Isaac to be paid to my wife as their other portions

. . . if it happen that William, Anne, Charles, Richard, David, Dorothy, Dorcas or Felix Sterne to die before age 21, the legacy of him or her to be paid to Thomas Sterne my son

. . . if a second child die before age 21, then that share to go to Anne Sterne my daughter

. . . if other children die before age 21, their shares to be divided among survivors, except for the first two shares to Thomas and Anne Sterne as aforesaid

. . . all legacies to remain in the hands of executors hereafter named until times and ages limited in this my present will in consideration that the executors shall bring up my said children in good exercises (except the legacies of Marie, Susanne and Isaac Sternes which I will shall be paid unto Dorothy my wife as aforesaid)

. . . I ordain and make Charles Sternes my brother executor (that entry crossed through) John Plampyn my brother in law executor to this my will . . . 40s. for his pains, And if the said John Plampyn shall refuse the same by the space of one week after my decease, I appoint Roger Sternes my brother,(that entry crossed through) then I appoint Dorothie my said wife sole executrix . . . 40s. for her pains

. . . Thomas Cockerell of Fordham supervisor and for his pains 6s.8d

. . . Signed by mark on each of the four pages. Witnesses: Thomas Cockerell, William Fuller, Henry Gybson.6


Dorothy Plampin b. abt. 1555, d. Feb 1617/18
  • Thomas Stearns3 b. abt. 1577, d. bef. 27 Aug 1637
  • William Stearns3 b. abt. 1579, d. bef. 18 Nov 1619
  • Charles Stearns3 b. abt. 1581, d. bef. 7 Nov 1619
  • Richard Stearns3 b. abt. 1583, d. aft. 1599
  • Mary Stearns3 b. abt. 1585, d. aft. 1599
  • David Stearns3 b. abt. 1587, d. aft. 1599
  • Dorcas Stearns3 b. 31 Aug 1589, d. aft. 1599
  • Susan Stearns3 b. 1 Nov 1590, d. aft. 1618
  • Felix Stearns3 b. 26 Nov 1592, d. aft. 1599
  • Anis Stearns3 b. 8 Jan 1593/94, d. bef. 28 Mar 1629
  • Isaac Stearns+1 b. 3 Oct 1595, d. 19 Jun 1671
  • Dorothy Stearns3 b. 14 Oct 1599
This person was last edited on26 Dec 2017


  1. [S763] Joan S. Guilford, The Ancestry of Dr. J. P. Guilford: Volume II: Seventeenth Century–New England Colonials and a Few Eighteenth–Century Immigrants (Orange, California: Sheridan Psychological Services, 2003), 677-679, further cited as Guilford, Guilford: Vol II. cites research of John Brooks Threlfall.
  2. [S1924] John B. Threlfall, "The English Origin of Isaac & Charles Stearnes/Stearns of Watertown, Massachusetts," MASSOG: A Genealogical Magazine for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 31 (Spring & Summer 2007): 17-23, 58-63, at 18, further cited as Threlfall, "The English Origin of Isaac & Charles Stearns."
  3. [S763] Guilford, Guilford: Vol II, 677-679.
  4. [S763] Guilford, Guilford: Vol II, 677-8.
  5. [S1924] Threlfall, "The English Origin of Isaac & Charles Stearns,."
  6. [S1924] Threlfall, "The English Origin of Isaac & Charles Stearns," 18-19, citing Wills at Chelmsford, 263 BW 35.