The faces of history – Elizabeth Prosser Sternberg 1854 – 1918

Elizabeth Prosser Williams with two of her sons, possibly William and Sydney and the family maid (Clara Brittle?) at Kings Norton about 1905

Elizabeth Prosser Sternberg was the eldest daughter of Francis George Sternberg and Elizabeth (née Plucknett). Her second christian name, Prosser came from her great Aunt, another Elizabeth Sternberg, who married Frederick Prosser and was referred to by her family as  ‘Aunt Prosser’

Elzabeth Prosser Sternberg was born in Bristol, like her sister, my great grandmother, Alice Plucknett Sternberg, but spent most of her life in Birmingham. Her father died when she was fifteen, leaving a family of three boys and five girls. I know that Alice had to leave school at fourteen to help to support the family and I assume that Elizabeth did the same.

Six years later, in 1875 Elizabeth married John James Williams, a tailor from Corwen in North Wales and they had three sons

Francis John Williams, born in 1876

William Victor Williams, born in 1877 and

Sydney Sternberg Williams, born in 1879

John Williams is missing in the 1881 census and I think I have located him in Birmingham General Hospital as a patient. In any event, he died in the 1890s, leaving Elizabeth widowed with the three sons who all  joined the family trade of tailoring and it appears to have been a profitable business, since they lived in some style in Kings Norton, an expensive residential area of Birmingham in Victorian and Edwardian England.

Elizabeth Prosser Williams, reclining with a blanket over her legs, with her brother Alfred, his wife Caroline and possibly, two of their children. Marion Sternberg is on the right and the women at the back on the left may be Rosa, widow of William Sternberg, who had died in 1894. This photo taken about 1896
Elizabeth Prosser Williams, reclining with a blanket over her legs, with her brother Alfred, his wife Caroline and possibly, two of their children. Marion Sternberg is on the right and the women at the back on the left may be Rosa, widow of William Sternberg, who had died in 1894. This photo taken about 1896

There is a record of a patent granted in 1905 to Francis John Williams and Sydney Sternberg Williams for a tailoring design to improve the fit of clothing. See the web entry here

Williams patent 1905. Click to enlarge
Williams patent 1905. Click to enlarge

WilliamsTailorsPatentOrig051905_Page_5I do not, as yet, know much more about this branch of the family, partly because Williams is a common surname and produces lots of choices.

I would be grateful for more information about what happened to Francis, William and Sydney. There is a family rumour that one of them went to Egypt and disappeared !

16 July 2009

After some research, I now have some futher information about William Victor and Elizabeth.

WV was petitioned for divorce by his wife May (née Oldbury) in 1924. They had married in 1911.when she was 24. A son Arthur Oldbury Williams was born in 1911 in Kings Norton.

Elizabeth died from ovarian cancer on 3 June 1918 in Edgbaston, she was 63 and still a widow.

It seems that the Williams brothers were very keen on patents.

This one is from an application by William V Williams of 76, Bunbury Road Kings Norton in 1919 (the same address as that given for his mother on her death certificate)

GB Patent 155036

Publication Date: 1920-12-13

Abstract of GB155036 155,036. Williams, W. V. Sept. 13, 1919. Beer pumps.-The lever of a beer or like pump is connected to the piston-rod F of an air-pump A pivoted on an arm B, so that, when the lever is depressed to draw off beer &c., a jet of air is delivered by a flexible pipe D and nozzle C on to the surface of the beer. Where a number of beer pumps are in use the pump A may be replaced by a compressed-air main connected to the nozzles C and provided with taps actuated by the beer engines.

Improvements in and connected with apparatus for drawing beer and the like – GB Patent 155036 Drawing


William Victor Williams patent diagram 1919
William Victor Williams patent diagram 1919


NEW     Who was Thomas Plucknett

Francis Victor Winchurch – born 5 February 1914

The faces of history – Introduction

Winchurch Family History

The faces of history – Benjamin Winchurch 1829 – 1891

The faces of history – Thomas Winchurch 1787 – 1856

The faces of history – Ann Brooks, later Shakespear, later Winchurch

The faces of history – Percy Walter Winchurch 1882 – 1953

The Story of Winchurch Brothers Limited

The English Sternbergs

The German Sternbergs

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

The faces of history – George Sternberg – 1798 – 1858

The faces of history – Francis George Sternberg – 1829 – 1869

The faces of history – Alice Plucknett Sternberg – 1856 – 1944

The faces of history – Elizabeth Prosser Sternberg – 1854 – 1918

The faces of history – Marion Brown – 1882 – 1982

The faces of history – Jeanne Marion Winchurch – 1919 – 1949

The faces of history – Francis Victor Winchurch – 1914 – 1997

The faces of history – Richard and Mary Ellen Brown

The faces of history – Elizabeth Plucknett – 1829 – 1888

The faces of history – Thomas Loaring Plucknett – 1809 – 1880

The faces of history – Norah Alice Brown – 1879 – 1965

The faces of history – Elizabeth Gadsby – 1861 – 1948

The faces of history – Arthur Smith – 1860 – 1949  and George Arthur Gadesby Smith his son 

The faces of history – Margaret Downing – 1916 – 1993

The faces of history – Annie Elizabeth Smith – 1883 – 1958

The English Sternbergs

Royal Horse Guards uniform (1806)
Royal Horse Guards uniform (1806)

I have written already about the ancestry and descendants of Francis George Sternberg who was born in Lüneburg in 1761 and was my 4G Grandfather. This post will be more about those Sternbergs who are not my direct ancestors, but about whose  lives and relationships I have information and indeed continue to learn, mainly through contacts via the internet. This, I believe, is a growing and important way of exchanging history and background. It is so much faster and responsive than traditional library research and communication. With this in mind, I am eager to hear from anyone who has information about the Sternbergs and related families. I should mention that by ‘the Sternbergs’ I mean those connected with Francis George and his descendants who branched out from Northampton area in the nineteenth century. Many Sternberg families, particularly those in the USA are the result of migration from Eastern Europe and Russia and appear to have no link apart from the same name.

On which note: where does the name ‘Sternberg’ come from ?

1) German – habitational name from any of various places so named all over Germany.

2) Jewish (Ashkenazic): ornamental name from German Stern ‘star’ + Berg ‘mountain’, ‘hill’.

The first of these seems to fit, There is for example a village called  ‘Sternberg am See’ (Sternberg on Sea/Lake) about 80Km east of Lüneburg on the shore of the ‘Grosser Sternberger See’ and there are many more examples of the place name in North Germany.

Whatever the origins of the name, the Sternberg family was established in Lüneburg with strong musical connections from at least 1716 when Heinrich Sternberg is first recorded. Heinrich was Musician at the Monastery School in Lüneburg from 1716 to 1734 and Town Musician (Ratsmusikant) from 1734 to 1757. He married Anna Catharina Otzmann on 14 November 1719 in St Michael’s Church, Lüneburg. This is now the focus of a Bach Festival, since Johan Sebastian Bach studied at St Michaels Monastery school from 1700 to1702 as a choirboy and later played the church organ. It is quite possible that Bach and Heinrich Sternberg were acquainted. Furthermore, when Heinrich’s daughter, Hinrietta was baptised at St Michaels on 3 December 1733, one of her Godparents was “Capellmeister Telemann”, the famous composer. Heinrich’s second son, Hartwig Sternberg succeded him as Town Musician in 1757.

Hartwig Sternberg had one daughter, who died young and one son Franz Georg Sternberg, anglicised to Francis George

He is my ancestor who came to England and enrolled as a trumpeter in the Royal Horse Guards Regiment in 1786 and established the branch of what I refer to as ‘The English Sternbergs’.

Since the marriage certificate of his son George refers to his father as  ‘George Sternberg, Professor of music’, it is fair to assume that George was the name by which he was commonly known.

Frances Furnivall was the daughter of  Sergeant Major Thomas Furnivall of the Bedfordshire Militia.

Thomas Furnivall - about 1790
Thomas Furnivall – about 1790

He was appointed Sergeant in the Leighton Buzzard Company when the county militia was raised in March 1760 during the Seven Year’s War, and was promoted Sergeant Major in April 1779 during the war with America. He died in Bedford in March 1800.

So it seems likely that Francis George Sternberg the young musician was befriended by (or billeted with) Thomas Furnivall, his wife Elizabeth and their family in Bedford in 1788 and that a relationship between FGS and Frances led to marriage in October 1789. FGS is recorded as a ‘widower’ on his marriage register entry at St Mary’s Church, Bedford, but no record has yet been found of his first marriage or indeed the name of his first wife.



















FGS and Frances had ten or eleven children. This tree shows how I am descended from them.

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

It is, of necessity, simplified since many branches had lots of children !

Not shown on this tree is William Sternberg. William is a bit of a mystery, since no record of his birth has yet been found. It is possible (and I believe, likely) that he was FGS’s son from his first marriage. He appears in the records only after 1820. William’s business, as a gilder, was located at Bradshaw Street, Northampton in 1823-4. Bearing in mind that my 3G Grandfather George Sternberg (FGS’s son b 1798) was a carver and gilder, it seems highly probable that William was related. I have, for the time being, left William out of the main tree until more is known about his parentage. Another pointer to William not being the son of Frances (Furnivall) is that Thomas Furnivall Sternberg, born in 1791 was clearly named after her father and that would suggest that Thomas was her eldest son. Following the child’s presumed early death, their next son was also baptised Thomas in 1794. What is more, Eizabeth Furnivall Sternberg, born in 1793 was given the name Furnivall too, so it seems unlikely that William really was a Furnivall grandson.

The known ‘sightings’ of a William Sternberg during the early part of the nineteenth century are mainly taken from the International Genealogical Index (IGI), which records the marriage of William Sternberg and Elizabeth Redmayne at Lancaster on 23 October 1834 and the baptism of an (Emily) Amelia Elizabeth Redmayne Sternberg to a William and Elizabeth Sternberg on 12 May 1837 at Leek, Staffordshire, This could be the same William  (His possible ‘little sister’ Amelia died in 1810 at the age of five, so perhaps William’s daughter was named after her)

In the 1861 census Elizabeth Sternberg widow, mantle maker, is living in Barnstaple with daughter Amelia E.R. age 24 Elizabeth’s birthplace given as Yorkshire. Amelia is a milliner, born at Bolton le Moors, Lancashire.

In the 1871 and 1881 censuses, Elizabeth Sternberg is, sadly, a patient in the Devon County Lunatic Asylum at Exminster. She died in 1884.

Amelia married Stephen Henry Wadham in 1876.  Stephen was a widower and he and Amelia were living in Barnstaple at the time of the 1881, 1891 and 1901 censuses. They do not appear to have had any children, this is, perhaps not surprising, considering the fact that Amelia was almost forty when they married. The couple did however have a reducing number of Stephen’s children living with them as the decades progressed.

The IGI 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 sister’ Amelia died in 1820 at the age of 5 – was William’s daughter named after her ?)
Redmayne is a northern english name
See 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.
Occupation: Gilder
1881 Elizabeth Sternberg in Devon County Lunatic Asylum Exminster
Daughter married Stephen Henry Wadham 1876. Living Barnstaple 1881 census
William Sternberg Tree
William Sternberg Tree

In between the two Thomases were born Elizabeth and Rosina.

Elizabeth Furnivall Sternberg was born in 1792. In 1837, Elizabeth Sternberg, whose marriage certificate gives her (deceased?) father as ‘George Sternberg, Musician’ married William Rose, a printer, who was a widower and son of James Rose, gentleman. Elizabeth was therefore forty five at the time of her marriage. They seem to have moved from Newport Pagnell to Portland Place area of London in both 1851 and 1861, but Elizabeth has changed her place of birth to Birmingham.

George, Frances, Frederick, Amelia, Caroline and Samuel Hartway (an anglicised version of Hartwig, the name of FGS’s father ?)  followed between 1798  and 1809, but Amelia died at the age of five in 1810 and Samuel lived for less than three months. There is no further record of a Caroline Sternberg, so she may have died in infancy.

Rosina Sarah Sternberg was born on 11 June 1793 in Northampton. She was baptised on 30 June 1793 in the church of  St John, Bedford. A second baptism took place on 22 January 1794 at St Giles, Northampton.

On 28 July 1842 Rosina married William Amerson, a tailor, at All Saints Church in Northampton. They appear to have had no children.

In the 1841 census she is living at Woolmonger Street, Northampton which was also occupied by eighty year old James Rose, presumably the father of her brother in law, William Rose.

Rosina’s brother George was living with the Amersons both before and after his marriage to Lydia Bird. (See entry on George Sternberg)

Frances Maria Sternberg was born in 1800 and clearly followed in the musical tradition of her family She taught Italian and English Singing and the Pianoforte, being described in the Northampton Mercury in January 1827 as a pupil of Ferrari, Knyvett & Beale

She was married in September 1826 to George Carver Cuffley, in the presence of Francis George Sternberg and John Wright. Frances and George do not appear to have had children.

Sophia Sternberg was born 1 December 1801 in Northampton, and died 15 June 1874 in 8 Heaton Road, Peckham, Surrey. She married Alexader Viner, who was described as a Wine Merchant and Gentleman on 15 December 1825 in St Margaret, Leicester. He was born 1802 in Oxford, and died 24 September 1862 in Walthamstow. Essex.

Thomas Sternberg, born in 1794 was, I originally thought, the likely author of  ‘The Dialect and Folk-Lore of Northamptonshire’, published in 1851. I had no definite proof that the author was the same Thomas Sternberg, but the combination of the name, plus the unlikely coincidence of there being two Thomas Sternbergs of the right age and background in Northamptonshire in 1851 pointed decisively to that conclusion.

However, recent correspondence with Stephen Miller, an expert on Folklore writing, has revised this assumption. There was a second edition of  ‘The Dialect and Folk-Lore of Northamptonshire’ also published in 1851. The author’s name on this publication is Vincent Thomas Sternberg, Thomas’s son, born in London in December 1831 (see more below). Vincent would have been only nineteen in 1851, so clearly  displayed a precocious literary talent at an early age .

I am grateful to Stephen Miller for his input into this story. His article on the book was published in Folklore magazine on 25 Jun 2012

The volume is famous for being the first book to use the word ‘Folklore’

To quote from the introduction

“Folklore is a word with a short but turbulent history. An Englishman named William John Thoms coined it in 1846, to replace the cumbersome ‘popular antiquities’ then in vogue to designate the loving study of old customs, usages and superstitions. Five years later (in 1851) the first book appeared with ‘Folklore’ in its title, ‘The dialect and Folk-Lore of Northamptonshire’, by Thomas Sternberg”

I am pleased to say the I have obtained a copy of the book, which I believe is out of print. There is, disappointingly, no reference to Sternberg’s family, but he alludes to German and Scandinavian influences at many points, commenting that one particular story is almost word  for word the same as the German version by the brothers Grimm. This suggests that Thomas had a detailed knowledge of the German language, which would fit well with having a German born father.

Thomas was a wine and spirit merchant, although he did take over his father’s music business for a time. His  ventures seem to have resulted in bankruptcy, however Thomas’ business (wine and spirit merchant) was located at Abington Street, Northampton, in 1830; and at Parade, Northampton, In 1841,

Took over his father’s Pianoforte Selling and Tuning business in 1828, but disposed of his pianoforte tuning to a Mr Klitz in August 1841 .

He and his wife were married ‘in the presence of John Whitton Scriven, Edward Pretty, Elizabeth ?; they lived at 65 Abington Street in 1851.

Bankruptcy recorded in ‘Times’ of 2 August 1856 (cf. 24 May 1848).

Address given as 20 Abington Street in cutting from Northampton Mercury on 18 September 1858.

A later correspondent says they occupied a house on the site of the present Post Office (N I? Chronicle, 25 August 1900).

Thomas and Elizabeth (née Scriven Kirby) produced a line of no less than four Vincent Sternbergs.


The first of these Vincents, Vincent Thomas Sternberg was born in London in 1831 and became Librarian of Leeds Library until his death in 1880.

Vincent Thomas was believed by some to have haunted the library after his death. For an account click – Vincent Thomas Sternberg and the haunting of Leeds Library

Vincent W. B. Sternberg (William or Bill) became a journalist and was London and political editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post.

The arrival in England of Francis George Sternberg in 1786 has led to some seventy five people being christened with the surname ‘STERNBERG’ plus many more who have adopted the name upon marriage.

As far as I am aware, the last of these ‘English Sternbergs’ was born in 1954 and the last person to die still using the surname was Ella Marion Sternberg, born in Birmingham in 1894 and died in Felixstowe in 1985 at the age of ninety. Many have lived well into their eighties and nineties.


Ella Marion Sternberg 1973

I was fortunate enough to meet ‘Aunt Ella’ a few years before she died. Her father was the third Francis George Sternberg.

It is fascinating to reflect that all of us have this family history because of one man’s journey across the North Sea.


In memoriam

The faces of history – Elizabeth Plucknett

Elizabeth Plucknett, my great great grandmother was born in Devon in 1829 and died in Birmingham in 1888

Elizabeth Sternberg née Plucknett about 1880
Elizabeth Sternberg née Plucknett about 1880

Elizabeth Plucknett was the daughter of Thomas Loaring Plucknett and Harriet (née Tootell). She may have been born in Thorverton, but her mother Harriet was from Exeter and Elizabeth’s address at the time of her christening was Cowick Street, Exeter, in the parish of St Thomas the Apostle. She spent her early years in Thorverton, but her mother, Harriet died when Elizabeth was 12. Harriet had at least six children, but only Elizabeth and Emma (b 1832) survived beyond childhood.

Her father Thomas remarried a few months after Harriet’s death. His second wife was Emma Babbage and they had three further children. It may be that the relationship between the two older girls and their stepmother was not easy, since both Elizabeth and Emma left Thorverton. In 1851, Emma was in Bridgewater and Elizabeth in Bristol, living at 56 Wine Street, (Christ Church Parish) along with 11 other shop assistants; described as draper’s assistant, aged 21.

In the same year she met Francis George Sternberg, who wrote the Valentines day poem to his ‘Fairest Lizzy’.

They were married in Bristol Register Office on 6 February 1853. Her address at time of marriage was Peter Street, Bristol (Hospital Workhouse). Note that the marriage did not take place at Thorverton and that Lizzy’s father Thomas seems to have been absent, although a month later,when her sister Emma married William Clout in Thorverton, Thomas was a witness.

Franis George Sternberg's poem to 'Fairest Lizzy' 1851
Francis George Sternberg's poem to 'Fairest Lizzy' 1851

Francis George and Lizzy had no less than ten children between 1854 and 1870, but two died in infancy.

In 1860 the family was at Bradley Terrace in Wandsworth. Let my father’s words from 1993 tell a bit more of that story.

Another thread in the story concerns my gt.grandmother Elizabeth. She was married in Bristol in 1853 and four children (one of them my grandmother) were born there, but only two of them appeared in the 1861 census. There was a death in Bristol that tallied for one of them, but
the only name that fitted for the other was in 1860, in Wandsworth. My recent research on Thomas Loaring P. led me to think that this was not, after all, impossible, so I sent for the death certificate, and sure enough, there he was, son of  Francis George and Elizabeth Sternberg – at
1, Bradley Terrace! So all the family seem to have been together in 1860, (In the 1861 census the Sternbergs were in Birmingham, where their next son, then 2 months old, was born, and where they lived for the rest of their lives)

Sadly the rest of Francis George’s life was not that long, since he died in 1869 at the age of 40 at 155, Sherlock Street, Birmingham, leaving Lizzy pregnant with their tenth child, Charles.
Causes of death on FGS certificate are given as Alcohol and ‘Brain disease

By the time of the 1881 Census, Lizzy was in Summer Road, 2 Terrace,  Edgbaston (Birmingham), Warwickshire. A widow, living with four of her children. Her second daughter (my great grandmother) Alice was by this time married,  so Lizzy had several grandchildren. In fact, by the time she died she had nineteen,

Lizzy died at 175, Great Colmore Street, Birmingham in 1888;

Her death Certificate records that:

‘Death Certificate was received from H. Hawker, Coroner for Birmingham. Inquest, held 8th May 1888’. Coroner’s enquiry reveals (on the testimony of her daughter, Marion) that she had had a stroke nine years previously ‘which took the use of her left side, but she was able to get about the house daily and eat and drink well’. On Sunday 29th April she fell downstairs while on her way to bed. Her son, Francis George Sternberg, who had just retired to bed ‘ran downstairs and picked her up’. Dr Johnstone of Bath Row was sent for, came and attended to her until her death.

She died on Friday 4th May 1888.

Lizzy died intestate and a Grant of Administrationwas made on 20 June 1888. The value of her personal estate was £75, to William Sternberg, son.

Photo album dedication to Marion Sternberg from Lizzy about 1887
Photo album dedication to Marion Sternberg from Lizzy about 1887 "To My darling Marion, with her loving mothers prayers for her happiness, here and hereafter"

This is the dedication from Lizzy to her daughter Marion, probably for her 21st birthday in 1887.

Lizzy died the following year. It is from this lovingly compiled photo album that I copied many of the portraits that I have used in the ‘Faces of History’ series.

As an amateur family historian, I acknowledge with gratitude and thanks my Great Great Grandmother’s efforts.

The faces of history – Introduction

One of the things that I have found after several years of sorting through family history details is that it is very easy to overlook or even forget important items. There have been several instances where I have ‘discovered’ information, only to find that my father had already recorded it years before.

Part of the problem is trying to find a format to make family history both readable and informative, but also accessible.

With this in mind, this a more personal view of the faces, people and events from my earliest years, plus an attempt to revisit previous generations in a way that gives some insight into the lives, thoughts, hardships and successes of the people whose very existence led to my own and that of other members of my family.

The internet has provided a ready medium for this in a way that has not been possible before.

As I record each individual, I find that the very act of doing so makes me look more closely at details and often link together pieces of information from my own and other people’s investigations.

The surnames of my ancestors that I know of so far (without most spelling variations included) are, in alphabetical order :

Barrow, Bate, Brady, Bright, Brook, Brown, Burton, Callender, Downing, Freeman, Furnivall, Gadsby, Gornall, Gritten, Grove, Heath, Hussey, Jewkes, Kellan, Kurtzbauer, Leach, Loaring, Merricks, Mumford, Otzmann, Plucknett, Pugh, Reeve, Shaw, Smith, Squire, Sternberg, Sutton, Taylor, Tester, Thornton, Tootel (Tothill), Webb, Winchurch.

This is therefore a fluid and expanding narrative, likely to be altered and added to as facts emerge and style and content change. Please keep reading, commenting and revisiting.

It was a conversation between my grandmother and her sister in 1961 that was an early inspiration for both me and my father to look into family history more. Dad began straight away, my research had to wait a few decades. Click here to listen to a recording I made that Christmas in 1961

When I was born on Sunday 27 September 1942, much of the ‘civilised’ world was at war. The Battle of Britain was more than two years in the past.

The Americans had entered the war after the Japanese had been stupid enough to attack them at Pearl Harbor and the Soviet Union was engaged with Hitler’s Army in a war of bloody attrition at Stalingrad, with results that would influence not only the world at large, but more personally, my life and political thought as the decades followed.

At the time that I was born, My father Francis Victor Winchurch ( Vic ) had been in the Royal Navy for eighteen months and did not see his first born son until Christmas of 1942, when I was three months old.

Three of my four grandparents were living, all within the ’30 year generation norm’. In other words they were within a year or so of their sixtieth birthdays in 1942. I will return to each of them later

Unusually, I also had three great grandparents to dote on this new arrival into war torn Britain.


Alice Brown, neé Sternberg, my father’s mother’s mother

Alice holding John 1943
Alice holding John 1943

On my mother’s side of the family, living in Stone, Staffordshire were her grandparents:


Arthur Smith, my mother’s mother’s father



Elizabeth (Lizzie) Smith neé Gadsby, my mother’s mother’s mother.

These three were, although I was not aware of it until years later, members of the generation that had been born at the pinnacle of the power and glory of Victorian England which about to be followed by an extended period of change lasting well into the twentieth century.

It occured to me only a few years ago, that my grandfather, Percy Winchurch was in most respects a ‘modern man’.

He had at the time of his death in 1953, his own business, car, house with gadgets including a vacuum cleaner and TV.

By contrast, his grandfather, Thomas Winchurch was born in 1787 and had few belongings throughout his life.

The lives of those four generations, including my own, represent a phenominal change in industrial society in general and Britain in particular.