Friday, December 23, 2011

the leaning tower of ... Norwich

The Augustine Steward House in Norwich
(built c. 1530). From British Listed
Building's website.
My ancestor, Augustine Steward, was a three-time mayor of Norwich, England.  His house, built in the early 1500's is still standing to this day. 

Augustine Steward was born in about 1491 in Norwich, Norfolkshire. He was the son of Geoffrey Steward, an alderman and merchant grocer, who died in 1504, when Augustine was about 13.  Augustine's mother Cecily remarried to a wealthy merchant named John Clerk.  She later traded under her own registered merchant's mark as Cecily Clerk.

Augustine Steward became a successful merchant and grocer in Norwich.  The house where he lived in Norwich is still standing to this day.  Some sources indicate the house was built in 1530, yet other sources suggest that he was actually born in the house (in about 1491).  Perhaps he was born in a structure that stood at that location, but it was later torn down and replaced in 1530 by the structure which can be seen today.  Apparently because of its uneven foundation, the house has shifted over its 500 years and is noticeably leaning.  It has since been used as a butcher's shop, a broker's shop, an antique dealer's shop, a bookshop and a coffee house.  It is said to be haunted by a 1578 plague victim known as the "Lady in Grey."

Augustine Steward's portrait from the
Norwich Civic Portrait Collection
Augustine was the mayor of Norwich in 1534, 1546 and 1556 and sheriff in 1526.  He was also a Norwich councillor from 1522 to 1525, an alderman from 1526 to 1570, M.P. (member of parliament) in 1542 and a Burgess in Parliament in 1547.  In 1540, Augustine purchased the monastery of Black Friar's Church (St. Andrew's Hall) for the city of Norwich. 

In 1549, Augustine was instrumental in leading peace negotiations during Kett's Rebellion.  He had been appointed deputy mayor during the uprising.  During the rebellion, Augustine also entertained and housed the King's representative, the Marquis of Northumberland (William Parr, brother of Henry VIII's wife Katherine Parr).  The house was also used by the Earl of Warwick as a base from which to squash the rebellion.

In addition to his own service as mayor of Norwich, Augustine's stepfather John Clerk was also a mayor of Norwich.  Additionally, his son-in-law Thomas Sotherton (also my ancestor) was a Norwich mayor, as well as Thomas' father Nicholas Sotherton and various other Norwich men connected by marriage.  Augustine died in 1571.

My descent from Augustine:

Augustine Steward md. Elizabeth Read
- Elizabeth Steward md. Thomas Sotherton
-- Augustine Sotherton md. Ann Peck
--- Elizabeth Sotherton md. Thomas Warner
---- Augustine Warner md. Mary Towneley
----- Augustine Warner md. Mildred Reade
------ Elizabeth Warner md. John Lewis
------- Charles Lewis md. Mary Howell
-------- Anne Lewis md. Edmund Taylor
--------- Mary Taylor md. John Brodie
---------- David Brodie md. Susan M. Sthreshley
----------- Ethalinda E. Brodie md. Thomas A. Jones
------------ Thomas A. Jones md. Lee P. Whitlock
------------- Louetha Jones md. Newell B. Brown
-------------- Bettye B. Brown md. Paul C. Wadleigh
--------------- Randy Wadleigh md. Barbara Plymale
---------------- Ryan Wadleigh