Nicholas served as leader of a train band in Oliver CROMWELL's army in the 1640s. He became Captain on Apr. 18, 1645. An alternate death date of Sep. 27, 1670, Albemarle, VA for Nicholas also appears, depending on accepting Nicholas migrating to America and being in Taunton, MA by 1669 before settling at Jamestown, VA. Married Sep. 9, 1641, St. Peters Church in Cornhill, London.
Nicholas Stevens was born Ca. 1620, eldest son of Thomas and Mary Stephens. He married Elizabeth Starkey in St. Peters Church in Cornhill, London September 9, 1641. This was near Tower Ward where he lived. He was a Captian in the victory of Nasby June 14, 1645 and fought for religious freedom under Oliver Cromwell and against the Stuart King. He came to America ca. 1660 under an assumed name because of the persecutions in England. He was in Taunton, Mass. in 1660, then he and his brother went to the Jamestown Colony. His heirs could not receive any of his wealth becausee he had changed the spelling of his name to Stevens. He died September 27, 1670 in Albemarle, now North Carolina.
No official birth date has been found for 1) Nicholas Stevens but since he married Elizabeth Starkey1 at St. Peter's church in Cornhill London in 1641 he would normally have been born about 1620. He entered the English Civil War ca 1642 against the tyrannical King Charles I on the side variously called Republican, Round Heads, Independents or Puritan; but they were not all Puritan so I prefer Republican as Milton called them. At first he apparently had organized a company or "trained band" of citizen-soldiers for the defense of London. Dr. E. S. Barney in her Stevens Genealogy quotes an old English record as follows:
"Nicholas Stevens for his cursing at Winsor before the trainband last Monday, is to pay the public treasury 10 shillings." 2
He apparently was a Captain at this time, at least we know from official records he was a little later when he and his men were ordered to join the new modeled army under Cromwell and Fairfax. Before Oliver Cromwell was raised to Lt. General and remodeled the army, the battles went against the Republicans and the situation was so bad that if the king could have captured the capital, he very likely would have won the war. On Oct. 13, 1642, he and his army came near London but the London trained bands barred his way at Turnham Green so he made the military mistake of withdrawing. As the historian Gardner says "he was never to have such another chance again." Thus in helping to organize these trained bands, Capt. Nicholas Stevens made a considerable contribution toward winning the war, regardless of his service in other battles.
Some of the old histories in America, county and otherwise, say that he was a brigadier general. For
instance, Plowden Stevens quotes one: "Nicholas Stevens, who had been a Brigadier General in Oliver Cromwell's army...." In a letter to R. A. Stevens, Costa Mesa, Calif., 6 Sept. 1955, the Public Records Office in England wrote:
"Brigadier General Nicholas Stevens has not been identified. A search has been made in the indexes to the calendars of State Papers Domestic for the period 1635 to 1665 without success."
I have no objection if someone wants to call him a Colonel, as he may have been, but as Brig. Gen. M. J. Gavin pointed out to me in a letter, I doubt if the title brigadier general was used then in England. Enough has been proved so that we do not need to exaggerate.
1 The Register of St. Peter's church, London, England
2 Dr. E. S. Barney; see No. 1 in the bibliography
Surely it is distinction enough that he was an officer (Captain or Colonel) under the great Cromwell, in an army never defeated although often outnumbered, lead by the greatest military genius of the 17th century - an army that had conquered the British Isles and even driven the Spanish army before them like chaff before the wind at the Battle of the Dunes in France, resulting in the liberation of the French people. This Spanish army was rated as the best in Europe, which means this army of Cromwell's was the peer of any in the world and other nations knew it. I fancy the secret was in part that he made soldiers as he said "who knew what they were fighting for and loved what they knew."
It would be interesting to know just how many of great grandsons of that grand army fought in the American Revolution for much the same principles of government as these Republicans. I recall, for instance Darius Stevens, a descendant of Capt. Nicholas, gave his life in the Battle of Bunker Hill. There are doubtless over a million descendants of that grand army in the United States today, but probably only a few know it. At any rate no order of Sons of the English Revolution (SER) has been formed but there is a Cromwell Association. Mark Twain was a descendant of Geofrey Clemens (or Clement), one of the judges who sentenced Charles I to death.
In the letter referred to above from the English Public Office it is said "Several references have been found to Capt. Stevens, who in 16 April 1645 was instructed with his troops that he was to form part of Sir Thomas Fairfax's new (modelled) army." However, it was Cromwell, 2nd in command, who did the remodelling; but he soon was to be the top commander of the Republican army and later was to be known as the greatest ruler of England. What a sorry contemptible lot were the kings of England as compared to him.
Capt. Nicholas Stevens and his men had just joined this new-modelled army in time to be in the great Republican victory of Nasby, June 14, 1645. This I believe has been rated as one of the fifteen decisive battles of the world. On the right Ireton's cavalry was routed by Rupert, who lead the best Royalist troops, but he stupidly chased them for miles. Cromwell's Ironsides were conquerors on the left. The Republican foot in the middle, containing many raw troops, was slowly being driven back but the genius of Cromwell saved the day. He turned his cavalry around and fell on the side of the Royalist infantry in the center and thus defeated them, thus winning a glorious victory for the Republicans, who captured over 5,000 prisoners, artillery and baggage, including the king's personal correspondence which was to be used against him later. When Rupert got back, he found his side defeated. Says the historian, J. R. Green:
"Modern England, the England among whose thoughts and sentiments we actually live, began with the triumph of Nasby. Old things passed suddenly away."
Yes, indeed, and how much of that greater New England beyond the seas, began with the victory at Nasby. I believe Carlyle says there are few remaining rolls for private soldiers but perhaps Thomas and
Anthony, brothers of Capt. Nicholas, were in this battle. This invincible army was sometimes outnumbered more than two to one; for instance on Aug. 17, 1648 with less than 9,000 men they fell upon 24,000 who followed Hamilton and after three days fighting routed them utterly. At the Battle of Dunbar with some 11,000 men they defeated 23,000 Royalists under Leslie, taking 10,000 prisoners. The Royalists lost over 3,000 dead and Cromwell's army not over 20 men. The rest of their victories can be read in any good history of England and is beyond the scope of this book. As Cromwell said:
"Such a history to look back unto.....even our enemies confessing that God himself was certainly engaged against them, else they should never have been disappointed in every engagement." 1
The Republicans had fought mainly for religious freedom and against religious persecution, so common then in Europe, and for a more just government in general. In his first speech to Parliament Cromwell, as Chief Executive, reported what his officers wanted:
"Some things are Fundamentals. These may not be parted with; but will, I trust, be delivered over to posterity as the fruits of our blood and travail. The government by a single person and Parliament is a Fundamental.
"Again is not liberty of conscience in religion a Fundamental? Liberty of conscience is a natural right and he that would have it ought to give it.....truly that is a thing that ought to be very reciprocal.....It is for us and the generations to come."
Said the noted historian Thomas Carlyle: "My brave one, thy old noble prophecy is divine....and shall in wider ways than thou supposest, be fulfilled!" 3
They extended toleration to the Jews, and Quakers were no longer persecuted. 4 They stopped persecution of the people for the totally imaginary crime of witchcraft, not only in England and Scotland but in much of Europe. 5 Let those scoff at the temporary witchcraft delusion of the Puritans at Salem, Mass. note that. When the Duke of Savoy caused the massacre of a number of the Valdois in the Piedmont valleys, Cromwell obliged the Duke to stop and caused the Pope to be informed that if Protestants continued to be molested anywhere the roar of English guns would speedily awaken the echoes of St. Angelo (in Italy).6 He also told the French ambassador "Never will I sign away our right to help the Huguenots..." Thus he practically stopped religious persecution all over Europe.
1-2 Carlyle's "Cromwell's Letters and Speeches" III, 66.
Cromwell's comment on this subject was:
"England hath had experience of the blessing of God in prosecuting just and righteous causes whatever the cost and hazard may be, and if ever men were engaged in a righteous cause in this world, this will scarcely be second to it."
Among his supporters, were not only Capt. Nicholas Stevens but his alleged relatives John Stephens of Tweakesbury near Gloucester; Nathaniel Stephens of Gloucestershire; and William Stephens of Newport and Wight, members of the Long Parliament (Carlyle) and probably several of the family served as common soldiers. How right they were!
But it seems impossible to change the habits and superstitions of a people in seven years, so in 1660
came the so-called restoration, partly due to the treason of Colonel Monk; but absolute monarchy could never be restored, and representative democracy is the government today of England and the U. S. A.
The Plowden Stevens Gen. says a county history in New York gives the children of 1) Nicholas as
Thomas, Richard and Henry; and that another story is that three of the children were Nicholas, Thomas and Henry. I think that is correct except that Henry was the oldest. In the F. S. Stevens Gen. 6 (p. 23) is a copy of the family record submitted by Susan Stevens, b. ca 1815. She and her husband were both descendants of 10) Henry Stevens. She says:
"Nicholas Stevens (of) Cromwell's army, came to Taunton, Mass. in the year 1669. He had three sons Nicholas, Thomas and Henry. Nicholas settled at Taunton, or Dighton and his son Nicholas resided there with his family.....Henry Stevens was sixteen years old when he came to America."
Dr. E. S. Barney gives the sons as Henry, Thomas and Richard but I believe they have confused 13) Richard, who lived at Taunton, Mass., as a son, while I consider him a cousin. So it seems proved that three of the sons were Henry, Nicholas and Thomas. There may also have been a Richard, John (as given by Mrs. Ghastin) and Ebenezer but unless more evidence is found, I doubt if we should list them as sons.
Nicholas3 (Thos.2, Anthony1), b. ca. 1620 of London "eldest son and heir" -m- in 1641 Elizabeth Starkey. (St. Peter's Register, Cornwall St., London.) He is said to have changed the spelling of his name to "Stevens"
(Dr. Barney) and in the church register his name is spelled "Stevens or Steuens". He was an officer under Oliver Cromwell in the English Civil War and joined Cromwell's New Modeled army as a Captain, 18 April 1645. (See Chapter II herein). Dr. Barney tells us that"Nicholas Stevens of England was wealthy, owning three shires in Wales, and after his death one of his heirs went over from New England, and prosecuted for and obtained a decree for his share of the property, but in signing the receipt he wrote his name "Stevens", when the attorney for the crown declared him an imposter, as the English records were spelled "Stephens", so the Judge ruled him out." He came home and so reported. - (Dr. E. S. Barney Gen. p. 45) She also mentions that he and his sons are said to have come to America in 1660 to escape thepersecution of the Royalists. He and son Thomas settled in the Albemarle Colony (now North Carolina) then under Jamestown Colony and their names appear there in the records where Nicholas died in 1670, when probably only about fifty years of age. (N. C. H. & G. Reg.) He is said to have appeared in Taunton, Mass. in 1669 (F. S. Stevens Gen. p. 23) but no record of him appears in the three volumes of Taunton Vital Records or in other Mass. records, so he probably only paid a visit to his son Henry and nephew 13) Richard. He left no will. His name is on the list of those present at a
meeting concerned with the settlement of the estate of Governor Samuel Stevens. (N. C. H. & G. Reg. by Hathaway).
"At a called Court held, 15 July 1670, at ye house of Sam Davis for ye County of Albemarle, in ye
Province of Carolina, Capt. Wm. Crawford, petition against ye administrator of Nicholas Stevens, deceased, for the hire and use of a shallop (which) was bulged and damnified, wherefore ye Court orders Mr. Rowden (Isaac), Administrator of ye estate to pay Capt. Crawford 500 1bs. of tobacco". (Hathway's N. C. Hist. and Gen. Reg. Vol. I, p. 136).
Probably Capt. Crawford was the same Capt. Crawford who had been a fellow-officer with Nicholas in England under Cromwell. Henry was the eldest son and 16 years of age when he came to America in 1660. (F. S. Stevens Gen., Dr. Barney Gen., and others.) Therefore he was born in 1644. While some sources list a brother Richard and one source, perhaps an Ebenezer, I do not consider there is enough evidence to include them as brothers. Probably they have confused 13) Richard who was a cousin instead of a brother of Henry. 14) Thomas did have a brother Richard but that was a different Thomas. So I think that Susan (Mrs. I. P.) Stevens, born ca. 1815, was correct as to the three sons: Henry, Nicholas, Jr. and Thomas, although there may have been a son Richard which we have been unable to trace. Susan not only had written records but in a letter to F. S. Stecens Dec. 20, 1890 said that John Stevens, a relative, "had the genealogy of the family, far back."
(Stevens Gen. by. F. S. Stevens, 1891, p. 23.) Plowden Stevens in 1909 mentions three or four other sources which all agree that two of the brothers were Henry and Thomas. There were likely other siblings.(*) Then for 1) Nicholas and Elizabeth Stevens, issue:
*1. 10) Henry4 Stevens (Stephens) 1644-1726, set. Stonington, Ct.
2. 11) Nicholas, Jr. ca. 1648-1674, set. R. I. - drowned while sailing a boat on Connecticut River in 1674. (Conn. Probate Rec.) Desc. not traced.
*3. 12) Thomas4, ca. 1662--1751, set. in Carolina Colony, now N. C.