Hibbitt & Barnes Family History


Stephen FREE - (1815 - 1883)

The Font, Hadstock Parish Church
The Font,
Hadstock Parish Church
Stephen FREE was born in Hadstock, Essex, on 31st October 1815, the son of Robert FREE and Mary (nee ADAMS). He was baptized in St Botolph's Church, Hadstock, on 16th June 1816 and his father's profession at that time was noted in the parish registers as a labourer.

Stephen may well have been baptized in the font on the left as it has a 14th century bowl and probable Saxon stem.

Photographs of the village of Hadstock and St Botolph's Church can be viewed in the Photo Gallery > Collections > Places > Hadstock, Essex section of this website and a video clip of Hadstock village and church can be seen in the 'Videos' section of the Gallery.

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Stephen lived and worked in Hadstock all his life, starting out as an agricultural labourer but later becoming a farmer in the Hadstock area, continuing a long family tradition.

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Stephen married Harriet ROWLANDSON in the last quarter of 1840 in the district of Linton, most probably in the village of Hadstock. He was about 25 years old and Harriet, a year older. The Marriage Index states...

Name: Stephen Free 
Year of Registration: 1840 
Quarter of Registration: Oct-Nov-Dec 
District: Linton 
County: Cambridgeshire, Essex 
Volume: 14 
Page: 156

The couple had two children, George and Charles.

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The following details appeared on the 1841 census as...

Name: Stephen Free 
Age: 25 
Estimated birth year: abt 1816 
Gender: Male 
Where born: Essex, England
Occupation: Ag Lab
Civil parish: Hadstock 
Hundred: Freshwell 
County/Island: Essex 
Country: England 
Registration district: Linton 
Sub-registration district: Linton 

Household Members: Name Age 
Stephen Free 25 
Harriet Free 26 
George Free 4 Months
Stephen Rowlandson 5 (Harriet's younger brother)

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Sadly, Harriet died in 1846 and in 1851, Stephen was living with his parents, some of his siblings and his youngest son by Harriet, Charles. His eldest son, George, was living with his other grandparents...

Name: Steven Free 
Age: 35 
Estimated birth year: abt 1816 
Relation: Son 
Father's Name: Robert 
Mother's Name: Mary 
Gender: Male 
Where born: Hadstock, Essex, England 
Civil parish: Hadstock 
Ecclesiastical parish: Rochester 
County/Island: Essex 
Country: England 
Street Address: Nutting End
Occupation: Agr Labourer
Condition as to marriage: Wid
Registration district: Linton 
Sub-registration district: Duxford 
ED, institution, or vessel: 5 
Household schedule number: 55 

Household Members: Name Age 
Robert Free 63 
Mary Free 60 
Steven Free 35 
George Free 27 
Charles Free 25 
Susan Free 20 
William Free 14 
Charles Free 8

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Stephen's father, Robert, died in 1853 and Stephen may have inherited some land at that point as he was listed in numerous local street directories between 1855 and 1882 as a farmer of Hadstock.

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Stephen married again on 23rd December 1859. This time his bride was 16 year old Mary Ann ASHBY. Stephen was 44. The details which appear on the marriage certificate for Stephen and Mary Ann are as follows...

1859. Marriage solemnized after Banns in the Parish of Hadstock in the County of Essex
Date: Dec 23rd 1859
Groom: Stephen Free (Widower)
Age: Full
Profession: Farmer
Father's Name: Robert Free
Father's Profession: Farmer
Bride: Mary Ann Ashby (Spinster)
Age: 16
Father's name: Robert Ashby
Father's Profession: Labourer
Residence: Hadstock (for both)
Married in the Parish Church according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England by me.
Curate: John Sutton
Witnesses: Josiah Bush and Susan Marsh

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Once again, the Marriage Index states...

Name: Stephen Free 
Year of Registration: 1859 
Quarter of Registration: Oct-Nov-Dec 
District: Linton 
County: Cambridgeshire, Essex 
Volume: 3b 
Page: 1207

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In 1861, Stephen was a farmer of 24 acres, employing 1 man. The census reveals that his mother, who was by now widowed, was also living with the family...

Name: Stephen Free 
Age: 44 
Estimated birth year: abt 1817 
Relation: Head 
Spouse's name: Mary A 
Mother's Name: Mary 
Gender: Male 
Where born: Hadstock, Essex, England 
Civil parish: Hadstock 
County/Island: Essex 
Country: England 
Street Address: 30 Body of Parish
Occupation: Farmer of 24 acres employing 1 man
Registration district: Linton 
Sub-registration district: Linton 
ED, institution, or vessel: 5 
Household schedule number: 64 

Household Members: Name Age 
Stephen Free 44 
Mary A Free 18 
Mary Free 73 
Charles Free 18

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Stephen and Mary Ann had at least 5 children together, 4 of whom were born before the 1871 census...

Name: Stephen Free 
Age: 54 
Estimated birth year: abt 1817 
Relation: Head 
Spouse's name: Mary Ann 
Mother's Name: Mary 
Gender: Male 
Where born: Hadstock, Essex, England 
Civil parish: Hadstock 
Ecclesiastical parish: Rochester 
Town: Hadstock 
County/Island: Essex 
Country: England 
Street Address: 10 Bartlow Road
Occupation: Farmer 20 acres employing 2 Men
Registration district: Linton 
Sub-registration district: Linton 
ED, institution, or vessel: 6 
Household schedule number: 25

Household Members: Name Age 
Stephen Free 54 
Mary Ann Free 27 
Charles Free 28 
Harry Free 9 
Emma Free 7 
Albert Free 5 
Robert Free 2 (Visitor)
Annie Mary Free 2 months 
Mary Free 80

Note: Robert Free was listed as a visitor but appeared with the family in the next census as Stephen's nephew.

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The 1873 England Return of Owners of Land gives us a clue as to the extent of Stephen's property for that period. If accurate, it appears the size of his landholdings was slowly diminishing...

Name of Owner: Free, Stephen
Address of Owner: Hadstock
Extent of Lands: 12 A., 2 R., 6 P.
Gross Estimated Rental: £36 10s.

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Stephen was still farming in 1881. The census for that year displays the following information...

Name: Stephen Free 
Age: 60 
Estimated birth year: abt 1821 
Relation: Head 
Spouse's name: Mary Ann 
Gender: Male 
Where born: Hadstock, Essex, England 
Civil parish: Hadstock 
County/Island: Essex 
Country: England 
Street Address: 12 Bartlow Rd. 
Condition as to marriage: Married 
Occupation: Farmer 
Registration district: Linton 
Sub-registration district: Linton 
ED, institution, or vessel: 6 

Household Members: Name Age 
Stephen Free 60 
Mary Ann Free 40 
Charles Free 38 
Albert Free 15 
Annie M. Free 10 
Robert Free 12 (Nephew)

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Stephen and Mary Ann's youngest daughter, Alice, was born in 1882, less than a year before Stephen died on 20th March 1883, aged 67. He was buried in the churchyard at Hadstock a few days later. The parish registers recorded the burial details...

Name: Stephen Free
Abode: Hadstock
When Buried: March 24th 1883
Age: 67 years
Ceremony performed by: Francis E Smith (Rector)

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The England & Wales Death Index states...

Name: Stephen Free 
Estimated birth year: abt 1816 
Year of Registration: 1883 
Quarter of Registration: Jan-Feb-Mar 
Age at Death: 67 
District: Linton 
County: Cambridgeshire, Essex 
Volume: 3b 
Page: 352

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The gravestone still stands in Hadstock Churchyard but is difficult to read. What is legible is as follows...

?
STEPHEN FREE
BORN OCTOBER 31ST 1815
DIED MARCH 20TH 1883
+
TIME ? PASSETH AWAY ?...

Pictures of Stephen FREE'S gravestone are displayed in the Photo Gallery > Collections > Graves & Memorials > Hadstock, Essex - St Botolph's Churchyard section of this web site.

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Probate was granted to Stephen's widow and to Charles, his son by Harriet...

1883
FREE Stephen
Personal Estate £120 2s.
7 July. The Will of Stephen Free late of Hadstock in the County of Essex Farmer who died 20 March 1883 at Hadstock was proved at Ipswich by Mary Ann Free Widow the Relict and Charles Free Farmer the Son both of Hadstock the Executors.

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Stephen's estate was put up for auction a month later. The Chelmsford Chronicle published this advert on Friday 17 August 1883...

HADSTOCK
FREEHOLD ACCOMMODATION LAND
AND
COTTAGE PROPERTY
(With Possession).
______________

Mr. Cheffins
Will SELL BY AUCTION, on Saturday, August, 25th, 1883, at the Rose and Crown Inn, Saffron Walden, in Six Lots, by direction of the Executors of the late Mr. Stephen Free.
THE Valuable Small ACCOMMODATION FARM, comprising a dwelling-house, homestead, productive orchard, and 7a. 0r. 3p. of highly fertile land, situate fronting the road leading to Bartlow; an orchard and one inclosure of Accommodation Land, containing together 3a. 3r. 16p., situate in Siggins-lane.
TWO Plots of Superior ARABLE LAND, situate fronting the Bartlow-road; and
FIVE COTTAGES situate in the Village, in several occupations of Hills, F. Fordham, Culter, and G. Fordham.
Particulars and Condition of Sale may be obtained of Messrs Freeland and Bellingham, Solicitors, Saffron Walden; and of Mr. Cheffins, Saffron Walden.

 

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