Stevenson Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
This is a Scottish/English/German patronymic or baptismal surname meaning “the son of Stephen”, an ancient personal (first) name derived from the Greek masculine given name Stephanos, meaning “wreath, crown, honour, reward” or “that which surrounds”, a name popularized throughout Christendom and the Holy Roman Empire in Europe by St. Stephen (died 36), an early Catholic Saint and martyr from Jerusalem in the Near East during the time of the Roman Empire, as well as by several European kings in England, Poland, Hungary, and Serbia. One such ruler was Stephen of Blois, France (reigned from 1135 to 1154 AD), King of England, and grandson of Wulliam the Conqueror. Crusaders returning from the Holy Land often gave their children Roman or Greek first names to honor their own achievements. In North America, it can be an Americanized spelling of various European cognates (ex. Stefan and Steffen) and their derivative surnames.
One source asserts this family first came from the Dalriadan clans on Scotland’s western coast and Hebrides islands. The name was established in county Northumerland, Englnad were they were seated at Knaresdale Hall and Newcastle on Tyne. Around 1150 AD, they move to the parish of Newlands in Peebles, Scotland.
Common spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Stephenson, Stephinson, Stevenston, Stevensend, Stevensant Steanson, Stevensyn, Stephenston, Stephensyn, Stevensan, Stevinson, Fitzstephen, MacStèaphain, and others.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Stevenson ranks 395th in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following seven states: Delaware, Montana, Maryland, Michigan, Utah, Iowa, and Wyoming. The surname Isaac frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (204th), Scotland (68th), Wales (377th), Ireland (1,182nd) and Northern Ireland (97th). In England, it ranks highest in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. In Scotland, the surname rankest highest in county Renfrewshire and Stirlingshire. In Wales, the surname Stevenson ranks highest in Anglesey. In Ireland, it ranks highest in Donegal. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in county Armagh and Down. The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (288th), New Zealand (87th), Australia (221st), and South Africa (1,199th).
The last name Stephenson ranks 668th in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following nine states: North Carolina, Missouri, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Idaho, and Wyoming. The surname Isaac frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (257th), Scotland (667th), Wales (409th), Ireland (1,223rd) and Northern Ireland (713rd). In England, it ranks highest in Durham. In Scotland, the Stephenson surname rankest highest in county East Lothian. In Ireland, it ranks highest in Leitrim. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in Fermanagh and Tyrone. The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (654th), New Zealand (441st), Australia (368th), and South Africa (1,440th).
The 1890 book Homes of Family Names by H.B. Guppy, states the following in regard to this surname: “Confined for the most part to the northern half of England, being especially frequent in county Durham, and afterwards in the North and East Ridings and Northumberland. It is also well established in Lincolnshire, and has made a substantial advance into the midlands as far as Warwickshire. Strangely enough it has an independent home in Sussex and Berks, where Stevens is also common. Generally speaking, however, it is absent or rare in the southern part of England, where its place is supplied by Stephens and Stevens. The Stevensons extend in force across the Scottish border, but do not usually reach beyond the Forth and the Clyde”.
Early Bearers of the Surname
The earliest known bearer of this surname was Adams Stevenson who was documented in the Subsidy Rolls of Essex, England in 1327 AD. Early baptisms involving this suname was Beatrice Stevenson at St. Botoloph in 1588 and Annes Stevenson at Christ Church Greyfriars London in 1568.
George Fraser Black’s 1946 book The Surnames of Scotland, states the following in regard to this last name: “Nichol filz Steven, chaplain of Scotland, had license to take shipping at London or Dovorre at pleasure in 1372. John Steywynson was one of the surveyors of the marches of Woodwrae in 1388, John Stevenson was merchant in Aberdeen in 1454, and common councillor, 1477, and Duncan Stewinson was witness in Brechin in 1479. Henry Stevinsoun in Brechin in 1505 appears in the following year as Henry Steynson. John Stevenson, last Roman Catholic precentor of the metropolitan church of Glasgow in 1548 spelled his name Steinstoune. Thomas Steuynesone had sasine of land in Glasgow in 1550 (Protocols, I), Andro Steiuinsoun was treasurer of Edinburgh in 1580, and Quostantyne Steynstoune was burgess freeman of Glasgow in 1594. Bryce Stinstone appears in Irvine, 1686”.
Stevenson Family Tree & Stevenson Genealogy
Stevenson of Uffington
James Peel Stevenson was Esquire of Uffington, Lincoln who was born in 1808. In 1835, he married Maria Mary, daughter of Walter McKenzie, and had three issue with her: Walter George Rellars, Elizabeth Ann Bellairs (married J.P.A Lloyd Philips), and Mary Bellairs. Burke traces the Stevenson genealogy back to James Bellairs, Esq. of Uffington in Lincoln who was born in 1782, son of Abel Walford Bellairs and Susanna Lowley, who assumed by royal license in 1844, the additional surname in compliance with the will of his cousin, William Stevenson, Esquire, who he succeeded in 1844. The coat of arms for this branch of the Stevenson family tree is blazoned in heraldry as follows: Quarterly, 1st and 4th, ermine a chevron counter compony or and gules between three fleur-de-lis of the upon a chief dancette also of the last as many mullets of second, for Stevenson; 2nd and 3rd, per pale gules and sable a rampant argent, for Bellairs. Crests: 1st, Stevenson, a demi-lion regardant gules charged on the shoulder with a cross-crosslet fitchee or holding between the paws a mullet gold; 2nd, Bellairs, a lion’s gamb per pale gules and sable. Motto: Virtus tutissima cassis.
Sir Henry Kenyon Stephenson, 1st Baronet (1865-1947)
Sir Henry Francis Blake Stephenson, 2nd Baronet, was born in 1895 and was a Major and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel in the Yorkshire Dragoons who served in World War I and II. In 1925, he married Joan, daughter of Major John Herbert, and had a son with her named Henry Upton who was born in 1926. Burke traces the lineage of this branch of the Stevenson family tree to John Stephenson of Sheffield who was born in 1762. He married Jane Green and they had a son named John. This John was of Endcliff, Sheffield and was born in 1790. In 1821, he married Elizabeth, daughter of John Kirk. They had a son named Sir Henry Stephenson, Knight, of the Glen, Endcliffe Vale, Sheffiled who was Justice of the Peace and W.R. in county York and Sheffield, as well as the Lord Mayor of Sheffield from 1908-1909 and High Sheriff in Derby in 1932. He was also a Member of Parliament for Sheffield and served in World War I as a Lieutenant in the R.F.A. He was born in 1865 and in he was created a Baronet in 1936. In 1894, he married Frances, daughter of Major William Greaves Blake of Mylnhurst, and had eight issue with her: Sir Henry Francis Blake (2nd Baronet), William Raymond Shirecliffe (served in World War I as a 2nd Lieutenant XIth Hussars, married Madeleine Rose Butterworth), Percival John Parker (married Pamela Benton Jones), Charles Eustace Kenyon (Lieutenant-Colonel Q.O. Yorkshire Dragoons in World War II, married Nancy Lyon), Evelyn Mary (married Anthony Henry Mather Jackson), Helen Millicent Frances, Cynthia Margaret, and Emma Letitia Gertrude (married Captain Philip Charles Fenner Lawton). The Stephenson Coat of Arms (often mistakenly called the Stephenson Family Crest) is blazoned in heraldry as follows: Vair, on a pale between two pallets gules, three leopard’s faces or, two flaunches of the second. Crest: A rock thereon a falcon’s head erased proper, gorged with a collar vair, pendent therefrom an escutcheon vert, charged with two arrows saltirewise points downwards or. They were seated at Hassop Hall, Bakewell in county Derby and they resided at The Lodge, Great Longstone.
Other Stephenson or Stevenson Family Trees
John H. Stephenson was born in Glasgow, Lanarkshire in 1601. He married Janet Hunter and had a son with her named John. This John Stephenson (or Stevenson) was born in the same town in 1628. He married Elizabeth Boyd and had a son with her also named John. His son John was born in the Isle of Wight, Virginia in 1675. He married Elizabeth Edwards and had the following issue with her: John, Amos, Abraham, William, Charles, George, Mary, Thomas, and Elizabeth. His son Abraham Stephenon son was born in Virginia aeound 1682. He married Ann and had the following children with her: Arthur Sr., Abraham Jr., Charles, George, John, Mary, Thomas, and William. His son Arthur Stephenson Sr. was born around 1720. He married Elizabeth and was the father of the following children: Arthur Jr., Abraham Sr., Lucy (Clifton), Mary (Jones), Elizabeth (McCone), Bytha, Martha (Vick), Mildred (Smith), Tabitha, and Susannah. His son Abraham Sr. Stephenson, Stephens, or Stevens was born in Virginia in 1750. He married Mary Jenkins and had the following issue with her: Jenkins, William, Arthur, Benjamin Thomas, Amy (Martin), Charles James, Amos Sr., Nathaniel, Sally (Hasty), and John. His son Jenkins was born in Northampton, North Carolina in 1775 and he married Martha Patsy Odom with whom he had the following issue: Sarah (Garris), Matilda (Vick), Charity (Garris), Burkett, and Littleberry.
Alexander Stephenson was born in Scotland in 1650 and he had a son named James. James was born around 1665 in Scotland and he had a son named James II. James Stephenson II was born in 16787 and went to Pennsylvania in colonial America. He had seven children: Ann (Watson), Hannah, John S., Nathaniel, Susan (Kerr), Sarah (Ross), and James III. His son James III was born in Lancaster County, PA and he married Ann Garner and had two children with her: John and Elizabeth Betsy (Davis).
Edward Stevenson was born in London, Middlesex, England in around 1567. He married Elizabeth Neville and had a son with her named Edward. This Edward was born in London around 1608. He went to colonial America and married Ann Graces in New York in 1640. They had two children: Abigail (Whitehead) and Jonathon.
Early American and New World Settlers
Early settlers in colonial America bearing this surname include:
Andrew Stevenson (Charlestown, MA 1630)
Ann Stephenson (Virginia 1636)
Christian Stevenson (Virginia 1637)
Christian Stephenson (Virginia 1637)
Phill Stevenson (Virginia 1652)
Christopher Stephenson (Maryland 1654)
James Stevenson (Virginia 1740)
Barnabas Stevenson (circa 1761)
Robert Stevenson (Boston 1763)
Daniel Stephenson (1764)
Nancy Stephenson (South Carolina 1772)
Thomas Stephenson (Maryland 1774)
Stephen Stephenson (Mississippi 1798)
In Canada, Joseph Stephenson came to Newfoundland in 1730 and John Stevenson came to Nova Scotia in 1749. In Australia, John Stevenson came to New South Wales around 1830 and Charles Stephenson who arrived in Adelaide aboard the Simlah in 1849. In New Zealand, a one S. Stephenson came to the Bay of Islands aboard the Fortitude in 1834. Burleigh R. Stevenson arrived in the city of Wellington in 1840.
Early Americans Bearing the Isaac Family Crest
I researched the following three resources and did not find any coats of arms for the last name Stevenson or Stephenson: Bolton’s American Armory, Matthew’s American Armoury and Bluebook, and Crozier’s General Armory.
I have identified six Stevenson family mottos or Stephenson family mottos:
1) Sub libertate quietem (Rest under liberty)
2) Virtus tutissima cassia (Virtue is the safest helmet)
3) Virtus ubique sedem (Virtue is everywhere)
4) Fidus in arcanis (Faithful in secret affairs)
5) Coelum Don solum (Heaven not earth)
6) Sic curre ut comprendas (So run that you may obtain)
General Sir Frederick Charles Arthur Stephenson (1821-1911), son of Major-General Sir Benjamin
We have 24 coats of arms for the Stevenson/Stephenson surname depicted here. These 24 blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848. The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it. People with this last name that bore an Stevenson Coat of Arms (or mistakenly called the Stevenson Family Crest)
1) Stephenson to Standish, . . . ., of co. Cumberland and Berkshire, 
2) Stephenson, Sir William, Knt., Lord Mayor of London [1764-1765], and of Crosslands, Aldstone, co. Cumberland, 1764.
3) Stephenson, Henry Frederick, Falcon [Herald Extraordinary], of the Middle Temple, London, 
4) Stephenson, Major-General Sir Benjamin Charles, Knt., G.C.H. , 
5) Stephenson, George ("the Engineer"), of Alton Grange, Ashby, co. Leic, and Tapton Park, Chesterfield, co. Derby, 
6) Stephenson, Sir Henry, [Knt., 5 Aug. 1887, Mayor] of Sheffield (typefounder), 1890.
7) Stephenson-Fetherstonhaugh, S. A., of Hopton Court, Worcester, 1882.
8) John Stevenson of Stanton and Elton-in-thepeak, county Derby, see Stevenson, a fraud?
9) Stevenson, see Perfect, of Pontrefract, county York, Match, 1777
10) Stevenson, of London and Bengal, 
11) Stevenson, now Wharton, of Skelton Castle, co. York, 
12) Stevenson, late Bellairs, James, of Wales, and co. Line, 
There are hundreds of notable people with the Stevenson or Stephenson surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include: 1) Coke Robert Stevenson (1888-1975) who was the 35th Governor of Texas in the 1940s, 2) Adlai Ewing Stevenson I (1835-1914) who was the 23rd Vice President of the United States and a member of the US House of Representative from Illinois, 3) Adlai Ewing Stevenson III (1930) who was a Democratic Senator from Illinois from 1970-1981, 4) General Nathaniel Stevenson (1840-1911) who was a British Army officer who became the Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey (an island off the coast of Normandy), 5) Ian Pretyman Stevenson (1918-207) who was a Candian-born US psychiatrist know for his study of reincarnation, 6) William Bennet Stevenson (1787-1830) who was a British explorer who lived in South America, 7) Charles Bruce Stephenson (1929-2001) who was an American astronomer born in Little Rock, Arkansas, 8) Pamela Helen Stephenson Connolly (1949) who is a New Zealand clinical psychologist who is best known for writing and acting, 9) Jackson Riggs Stephenson (1898-1985) who was an American baseball player in the MLB who was born in Akron, Alabama who played for the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs, 10) Samuel Merritt Stephenson (1831-1907) who was born in Hartland, Canada and served in both the Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate, 11) Sir Paul Robert Stephenson (1953) who was the Metropolitan Police Commissioner from 2009 to 2011 who was born in Bacup, Lancashire, and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) who was a renowned Scottish author born in Edinburg who was known for works such as Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
George Stephenson (1781–1848), English civil & mechanical engineer, considered the "Father of Railways"
credit: Chesterfield Museum & Art Gallery
Dr. Benjamin F. Stephenson, founder of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fratneral organization for Union veterans
Adlai Ewing Stevenson