The faces of history – Francis George Sternberg – 1761- 1828

Francis George Sternberg signature 1789
Francis George Sternberg signature 1789

For this entry, I do not have a photo, only a description of my great great great great grandfather, whom I suspect had a huge influence over subsequent generations.

Height 5’5″, born Luneburg, Germany. Hair, eyes and complexion brown; Musician by trade

The love of music is a clear trait that I inherited from my father, grandmother and I believe goes back to Francis George and beyond. On the marriage certificate of his son George to Lydia Bird in 1851, he is referred to as ‘George Sternberg,  Professor of Music’ and I assume that ‘George’ was the name he used throughout his life.

Francis George was from a family of musicians from Lüneburg in north Germany. See Stan Bruce’s account of the German Sternbergs for more information.

Ironically, I stayed in Lüneburg when I was eighteen, cycling across Holland , Germany and Denmark with a school friend whose grandmother lived there. At that point in my life, I knew nothing of my Lüneburg ancestors, but I fell in love with the ancient town.

But I digress.

Francis George Sternberg was born in Lüneburg on 29 August 1761  and baptised in St. John’s Church, Lüneburg with his original German names, Frantz Georg Sternberg on 1 September 1761. His godfather at baptism was  Frantz Georg Brown. More coincidence here, since his great grandaughter married Henry Brown. His mother died when Francis George was only seven, in May 1769. He became a trumpeter in the Royal Horse Guards Regiment in 1786. George III who was King of Britain at this time was also elector of Hanover and it was not uncommon for soldiers from North Germany to enlist in British regiments.

Details of his service with the Royal Horse Guards can be found in the following regimental records :

Royal Horse Guards Nominal Roll, Book 1 (click to see original)

RHG Officers Succession; and Rank and File Services, 1750-1890 at Combermere Barracks, Windsor, gives the following information
Age at enlistment 22 (this does not quite tie in with birth date – he should be 24 or 25 !), Height 5’5″, born Luneburg, Germany.

Hair, eyes and complexion brown; Musician by trade; date of service: 5 March 1786, Troop H.

End of service: trumpeter, 30th May 1797, own request; character good.

Trumpeter with Royal Regiment of Horse Guards (Blues) under Rt Hon Gen Henry Seymour Conway (1762 -1792) and under His Grace the Duke of Richmond ( 1793 – 1798 )

He was enlisted on 18 March 1786 and was present at the following musters :

25 Dec 1785 – 24 June 86 Cptn Lewis Buckle Leicester 30 Sept 1786 On Party
25 Jun 1786 – 24 Dec 86 Cptn Robert Shaw Milnes Colney 18 April 1787
25 Dec 1786 – 24 Jun 87 Cptn Robert Shaw Milnes Hertford 3 Sept 1787
25 June 1787 – 24 Dec 87 Cptn Robert Shaw Milnes Hertford 1 April 1788
25 Dec 1787 – 24 Jun 88 Cptn Robert Jefferson St Albans 23 August 1788
25 June 1788 – 24 Dec 88 Cptn Robert Jefferson St Albans 30 April 1789
25 Dec 1788 – 24 Jun 89 Cptn Robert Jefferson Bedford 22 Aug 1789
25 Jun 1789 – 24 Dec 89 Cptn Robert Jefferson Black Heath 5 April 1790
25 Dec 1789 – 24 Jun 90 Cptn Robert Jefferson Peterborough 2 Sept 1790
25 Jun 1790 – 24 Dec 90 Cptn Robert Jefferson Black Heath 12 April 1791
25 Dec 1790 – 24 Jun 91 Cptn Robert Jefferson Birmingham 20 August 1791
25 Jun 1791 – 24 Dec 91 Cptn Robert Jefferson Birmingham 23 April 1792
25 Dec 1791 -24 Jun 92 Cptn Robert Jefferson Birmingham 27 Aug 1792
25 Jun 1792 – 24 Dec 92 Cptn Robert Jefferson Northampton 27 May 1793
25 Dec 1792 – 24 Jun 93 No Records surviving
25 Jun 1793 – 24 Dec 93 Major/ Cptn Gustavus Belford Lutterworth 11 April 1794 On detachment at Northampton
25 Dec 1793 – 24 Jun 94 Major/ Cptn Gustavus Belford Leicester 1 Sept 1794 On detachment
25 Jun 1794 – 24 Dec 94 Major/ Cptn Gustavus Belford Leicester 24 April 1795 On command
25 Dec 1794 – 24 Jun 95 Major/ Cptn Gustavus Belford Leicester August 1795 On duty at Northampton
25 Jun 1795 – 24 Dec 95 Major/ Cptn Gustavus Belford Leicester 24 March 1796 On duty at Northampton
25 Dec 1795 – 24 Jun 96 Cptn Henry Wave Brighton Barracks 30 Aug 96
25 Jun 1796 – 24 Dec 96 Cptn Henry Wave Ipswich Barracks 3 April 97
25 Dec 1796 – 24 Jun 97 Cptn Henry Wave Camp nr Weymouth 21 Aug 97

Discharged 13 June 1797
Source PRO records WO/12 55-57

In many of the above musters his name is recorded as ‘Stanburg’ or ‘Stanberg’ . Also present at several of these musters was Nicholas Doring, trumpet Major, enlisted 25 May 1777. Could this be where his son Francis Doering Sternberg got his name from?

There is another fascinating cause for speculation in that last posting. His future namesake grandson, Francis George Sternberg born in Northampton in 1829, married Lizzie Plucknett. Her grandfather, Thomas Plucknett was a drummer with the Royal Marines. Did the two men meet in Weymouth and form a family friendship that was to survive to their grandchildren ?

Weymouth was a favourite resort of George III and I am sure that his Hanoverian soldiers, including FGS, were made to feel at home there.

“From 1789 on, George III suffered from mental-health problems which could not be concealed, and his re-appearance at Weymouth in the summer of 1789 to take the waters was a welcome sight, for the situation in France prompted a fear the English monarchy could also collapse. Watched by a puzzled and fascinated crowd, the King entered the sea from a bathing machine for his royal dip while a band played God Save The King. It was the King’s regular public dips at Weymouth through the 1790s that helped popularise the new “spa” idea of salt-water sea-bathing had curative properties.”

Notice also that on Christmas day 1788, the young FGS was posted to Bedford. It is very likely that shortly aferwards he met twenty year old Frances Robina Furnivall who was born in that town in 1768.

Frances and Francis George were married on 13 October 1789 at St Mary’s church in Bedford (see register entry). They had eight or nine children between 1790 and 1805. However, FGS was a widower when he married (see licence) and it is possible that his eldest son, William was born in Germany to FGS’s  first wife. No record of William’s birth has been found in England and he seems to have moved away from Northampton early in his life. The International Genealogical Index records the baptism of an (Emily) Amelia Elizabeth Redmayne Sternberg to a William and Elizabeth Sternberg on 12 May 1837 at Leek, Stafford – could this be the same William? ( His possible ‘little – (half?) sister’ the first Amelia died in 1810 at the age of 5 – so maybe William named his daughter after her ?)
In the 1861 census Elizabeth Sternberg widow, mantle maker, living in Barnstaple with daughter Amelia E.R.(24) Elizabeth’s birthplace given as Yorkshire. Amelia is a milliner, born Bolton, Lancashire (1837). Sadly, ten years later, Elizabeth is recorded in the 1871 census as a patient in Devon County Lunatic Asylum at Exminster. Amelia Sternberg married Stephen Henry Wadham about 1868 and was living Barnstaple at the time of the 1881 census.

Francis George and Frances had a son Thomas Furnivall Sternberg (notice use of mother’s maiden name – common practice at this time) however he almost certainly died in infancy since another Thomas was baptised in 1794. This Thomas is the likely author of  ‘The dialect and Folk Lore of Northamptonshire’ published in 1851. In turn his son, Vincent Thomas Sternberg was librarian of Leeds ‘Old Library’ from 1857-1880 and is said to have haunted the library after his death. I have a copy of Thomas’s book.

The other Sternberg baptisms in Northampton are:

Elizabeth Furnivall Sternberg 1792

Rosina Sarah Sternberg 1793

George Sternberg (my 3G grandfather) 1798

Frances Maria Sternberg 1800

Frederick Doering Sternberg 1804

Amelia Sternberg 1805. Amelia died in 1810

Eight years after his marriage, Francis George sought discharge from the army and settled with his family in Northampton. In all they had nine children and were a well known family in Northampton by the start of the nineteenth century.

In Northampton Mercury cutting of 22 July 1826 he is described as a ‘Teacher of Pianoforte, Violin, Tenor, Violincello, Guitar, Spanish and Harp Guitar, Lyre Lute etc at College Street, Northampton.

Their daughter Frances Maria Sternberg taught Italian and English Singing and the Pianoforte (Cutting in Northampton Mercury for 9 September 1826).
Described as a pupil of Ferrari, Knyvett & Beale (cutting from Northampton Mercury for 20 January 1827).

On 29 Sept 1826 a cutting announced that he had moved to a house adjoining the Stag’s Head Inn in Abington Street.

Francis’s address at death was given as Abington Street, Northampton. His age at death given as 67 (may be 63?) and he was buried on 3 April 1828 at St Giles Northampton

The Northampton Mercury reported on 5 April 1828 :

‘Death. On Monday last, deeply lamented by his family, Mr Sternberg of this town, aged 67. He was a good husband and a kind parent’

Occupation : Professor of Music

Much of the information contained above was researched by Stan and Gillian Bruce. Gillian is a descendant of William Mumford Sternberg my great grandmother Alice Plucknett Sternberg’ s brother. Stan has added a chapter to ‘Faces of History’ on the ‘German’  Sternbergs and associated families.



6 thoughts on “The faces of history – Francis George Sternberg – 1761- 1828

  1. It is Vincent Thomas Sternberg who was the author of The Dialect and Folk-lore of Northamptonshire in 1851, a second edition appeared in 1852.

    I have just written a article about him that you are welcome to have a copy of if you so wish.

    Stephen Miller

  2. Thank you for the information Stephen. I had wondered if it might be VTS.
    I would love to have a copy of your article.
    Will send email address

    John Winchurch

  3. Could you please contact me regarding the Sternberg line as it appears in my family tree along with names such as Vincent Francis Elizabeth and the pleaces, London, Torquay, Leeds and California

  4. It sounds as though you are descended from Thomas Sternberg, brother of my GGG grandfather George

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