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Featured Steathams

Gervase Lee Steatham (1904-1980)

Gervase Lee was the only son of Gervase Steatham (1875-1957), who was a son of Josiah Steatham (1842-1920), who moved from Willenhall to Derby to found the Derby Steathams as I call them.

Josiah Steatham, had two sons Gervase, Gervase Lee's father mentioned above, and Alfred Steatham who emmigrated to Australia.

So to place into context Gervase Lee Steatham was a Great Great Grandson of Robert Steatham (1775-1827), and a nephew of Alfred Steatham.

I have been contacted by Nicholas Shorthose who is a Grandson of Gervase Lee Steatham.

I am grateful to Nicholas for the information he has provided on Gervase Lee, this has enabled me to create this page.

Gervase Lee Steatham, was born on Friday the 18th November 1904, at 65 Sherwin Street, Derby, as of January 2023 the house is still standing.

In 1906 we see the birth of Gervase Lee's sister Margaret Louisa Steatham (1906–1991), on Friday the 21st September 1906 at Clay Cross, Derbyshire.

We now see the birth of his other sister Harriett Norah Steatham (1909–1998) in January 1909 at Derby.

In the 1911 census we now see all the above with their parents at 8 York Street, Derby.

Gervase Steatham, aged 36, born Derby 1875, house carpenter.
Sarah Rebecca, aged 32, born 1879, Ibstock Leicestershire.
Gervase Lee Steatham aged 6, born 1905, Derby, at School.
Harriett Norah Steatham Daughter, aged 2, born 1909, Derby.

Gervase Lee Steatham aged 18.

Gervase Lee, then aged thirty, married Mary Agnes Johnson, aged twenty four, daughter of Thomas Kelly (aka Charles Johnson), on Saturday the 8th June 1935 at St Mary's Catholic Church, Derby.

St Mary's Church is a Roman Catholic church in the city of Derby. A Grade II* listed building. The church was designed by architect Augustus W. N. Pugin in 1837 to replace a small Gothic building in nearby Chapel Street. It was Pugin's first expression of his Gothic Revival style. The foundation stone being laid in July 1838 and building was completed by Monday the 9th October 1839, when the dedication service took place with Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman preaching. The cost of construction was £1,400.

£1,400 in 1839, in today's money would be the equal to £185,821 - Calculated using this Link. This seems are very small amount!

In 1850, a chapel was added dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. The church was partially restored in 1927, and St Mary's was enlarged slightly in 1932 with the building of the Lady Chapel and several pieces of stonework were added to both the interior and the exterior of the building.

A new set of bells was added during a facelift which took place between April 1988 and September 1989, during which the church was closed.

Photo of Gervase Lee Steatham aged 18.

  We now see Gervase Lee Steatham aged 23, mentioned in Electoral Registers...

1927 living at 119 City Road, Derwent, Derby. At the house is Gervase Steatham his Wife Sarah Rebecca, Gervase Lee Steatham and a Margaret Jebbett. Margaret (nee Lee) Jebbett was Gervase Lee Steatham's widowed maternal aunt.
  Gervase Lee Steatham in 1937 is living at Church Lane, Breadsall, Derbyshire. Occupation is a joiner (carpenter) the same as his father Gervase Steatham.

In 1937 now aged 32 we see on Wednesday the 24th March 1937 the birth of his daughter Mary Doreen Margaret Steatham (1937–2022).

Gervase Lee Steatham in his army uniform.

Gervase Lee Steatham aged 34 now joined the army as a Pte. service number 744255 on 9th September 1939, Det No 1 Supply Personal, Royal Army Service Corps.

He did not have to join up at this time due to his age, as earlier in the year on the 27th April 1939, the Military Training Act was passed, and this only had that single men 20 to 22 years old were liable to be called up.

They were to be known as "militiamen" to distinguish them from the regular army. To emphasise this distinction, each man was issued with a suit in addition to a uniform. The intention was for the first intake to undergo six months of basic training before being discharged into an active reserve. They would then be recalled for short training periods and attend an annual camp.

At the outbreak of war, on 3rd September 1939, the Military Training Act was overtaken by the National Service act. The first intake was absorbed into the army. This act imposed a liability to conscription to all men aged 18 to 41 years who were living in Great Britain. Men could be rejected for medical reasons, and those engaged in vital industries or occupations were "reserved" at a particular age beyond which no one in that job would be enlisted. For example, lighthouse keepers and police officers were "reserved" at 18 years old. From 1943, some conscripts were directed into the British coal mining industry and become known as the "Bevin Boys".

Provision was also made for conscientious objectors, who were required to justify their position to a tribunal, with power to allocate the applicant to one of three categories: unconditional exemption; exemption conditional upon performing specified civilian work (frequently farming, forestry or menial hospital work); exemption from only combatant service, meaning that the objector had to serve in the specially created Non-Combatant Corps or in some other non-combatant unit such as the Royal Army Medical Corps.

By 1942 all male British subjects between 18 and 51 years old and all females 20 to 30 years old resident in Great Britain and the Isle of Man were liable to be called up, with some exemptions.

Gervase Lee Steatham's pass.

On the 4th May 1940 Gervase Lee Steatham Pte. service number 744255, had a Sunday pass issued to him by a Lieutenant R. Edwards? Commanding Det. No. 1 Supply Personnel Company at Cherbourg, Manche, Basse-Normandie, to visit Mont St Michael.

We can see he is serving in the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) which was the unit responsible for keeping the British Army supplied with provisions. The exceptions were weaponry and ammunition, which were supplied by the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

Chenard et Walker car.

Interesting to note the car he travelled in was a Chenard et Walker (6451 KF 3).

Chenard-Walcker, also known as Chenard & Walcker, was a French automobile and commercial vehicle manufacturer from 1898 to 1946. Chenard-Walcker then designed and manufactured trucks marketed via Peugeot sales channels until the 1970s. The factory was at first in Asnières-sur-Seine moving to Gennevilliers in 1906. The make is remembered as the winner of the very first Le Mans 24 Hours Race in 1923.

13 Rue du Port in Cherbourg.

The car used by Gervase Lee was likely to have been the Aigle 20/22 built in 1938.

The KF in the car's registration number refers to Manche a coastal French department in Normandy, which is known as La Manche, literally "the sleeve", in French. The department includes the Cotentin Peninsula down to the famous Mont St Michel. It may have been that the transport (taxi) was not local and may have come from Mont St Michel to transport him there, although saying that the driver Devillere's address is given as 13 Rue du Port in Cherbourg, this is building now houses the "Les Parapluies De Cherbourg".

Interestingly the Les Parapluies De Cherbourg" is the name of a French film - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (French: Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) is a 1964 musical romantic drama film written and directed by Jacques Demy,

Dunkirk evacuation.
Gervase Lee Steatham departed France on Tuesday the 4th June 1940 with the Dunkirk evacuation, Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais. The evacuation was from between 26th May and 4th June 1940, so he escaped on the last day.

Gervase Lee Steatham's discharge.

A year later Gervase Lee Steatham, who is now a Corporal, on Wednesday the 24th June 1941 while based at Dunmurry, Antrim, Northern Ireland, is given the authority to purchase articles for the RASC Mess, Rathmore House, Dunmurry No 6DID RASC.

Later when now aged 39 he was discharged from the military on Wednesday the 23rd Aug 1944 to 33 Willson Road, Littleover, Derby.

Designed by Alexander MacPherson for the Derby Tramway Co.
Now aged 46, we see Gervase Lee Steatham having recommendations from Macpherson & Richardson, Queen Street, Derby, Architects.

Alexander MacPherson (1847 – 1935), was an English architect, who worked for the majority of his career in and around Derby, where he had moved in 1880. He served as president of the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Architectural Society. He was for many years in partnership with architect W. E. Richardson.

MacPherson worked in a variety of styles from the baroque of department stores such as the Co-Operative Central Halls he designed in Derby and elsewhere, to the 'Queen Anne' of the now demolished Children's Hospital in Derby. He was however, perhaps happiest designing in the Tudor style made popular during the Arts and Crafts movement. Buildings such as Littleover Old Hall, Derbyshire (1898), Reginald Street Public Baths, Derby (1904), Victoria Street Tramways Office, Derby (1904), and the workers' houses he built for the Liversage Charity Estate and Haslam foundry in Derby are characteristic of this style. MacPherson's interiors were often crammed with richly carved woodwork. His rooms in Aston Hall, Aston upon Trent, and the Friary, Friargate, Derby, are good surviving examples of this style.

Many of MacPherson's buildings have been destroyed. Two conservation areas within the City of Derby, Chester Green and Nottingham Road have, however, been created to protect his buildings.

Now aged 42, Gervase Lee Steatham's mother Sarah Rebecca Lee dies in September 1952 at Derby.

St. Mary's Church English Martyrs.

St. Mary's Church English Martyrs.
Now aged 48, in 1952, Gervase Lee Steatham and his father Gervase Steatham, both carpenters are working for Ford and Weston, on joinery in the new chapel of the building of St. Mary's Church English Martyrs, Derby.

Built in 1952, replacing an earlier and much smaller church which operated on the same site from 1909. The present building was constructed in 1952 by a local company Ford & Weston, to a design of the Manchester based firm of Architects, Reynolds and Scott. The style of the design was described at the time as ‘modern Romanesque’, and originally included a tower to the right of the main entrance; subsequently abandoned due to cost. Ford and Weston were not new comers to church building; Richard Weston had worked on St Osmund’s Anglican church further along London Road and Thomas Weston had directed the building of the Sacred Heart Monastery. Ford and Weston were particularly proud of English Martyrs’. The foundation stone for the new church was laid by Bishop Ellis on 16th March 1952 and was officially opened and consecrated by him, a year later, on Sunday 10th May 1953.

The name of the church ‘English Martyrs’ was originally reflected in the choice of Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More as the principal saints of the church. Each Saint is represented three times in the church; two stained glass rose windows (north and south transepts) bearing the initials, iconography and dates of the saints; two mosaic roundels on the sanctuary floor bearing initials and iconography; two statues carved in wood approximately four feet high flanking the sanctuary looking into the nave.

The sanctuary is largely covered with mosaic. An Italian family did the laying of this toward the end of the construction period in 1952. There are three roundels on the high sanctuary; left (facing east), Saint Thomas More, initials and iconography; centre, the silver and gold keys of Saint Peter and the Holy See; right, Saint John Fisher, initials and iconography.

HMP Sudbury.
On Wednesday the 5th January 1955 he was appointed as Grade III Carpentry Instructor at HM Prison Sudbury.

HM Prison Sudbury is a Category D men's prison, for adult males, located in the village of Sudbury in Derbyshire, England. Sudbury was originally constructed as a hospital for the United States Air Force for the D-Day landings. In 1948, the old hospital site was adapted for use as a prison. The original single-storey accommodation from the hospital still houses prisoners today, with newer additional single storey buildings also used.

Three years later his Father Gervase Steatham (1875-1957) dies on Friday the 27th December 1957 at 49 Jackson Ave, Mickleover, Derby.

As Nicholas Shorthose recalls,

"Gervase Steatham left his inheritance, £603, to his daughter Harriet Nora Steatham, who was my mother’s “Aunty Nora”. She was unmarried and worked as a Laboratory Assistant at a Cosmetic and Food agent manufacturers in Derby".

£603 in 1957, in today's money would be the equal to £18,601 - Calculated using this Link.

Now aged 52 on Monday the 1st September 1958 he was now in residence at 12 Sudbury Park, Sudbury, Derbyshire. Civil Service, Prison Commission.

Retirement. On the Saturday the 14th July 1962, now living at Polperro, Cornwall, he leaves the Prison Service on medical grounds.

Gervase Lee Steatham's story ends for us when he dies on Tuesday the 1st April 1980 at 16 Barley Farm Road, Exeter.


What a story this is. Firstly the name; Gervase a unique and rare Steatham name, only three Steathams every had this name. It is said that it is better to live in interesting times and we can see that Gervase Lee Steatham certainly did that!

As Nicholas Shorthose recalls,

"Although born in Derby, some of the Black Country heritage lingered. Gervase Lee Steatham would use the term “our kid”, which is a typical Black Country expression.

A Lucky Escape From Dunkirk: He was still left on the beach when the evacuation had to end. He had always been a strong swimmer and decided to swim out to the departing boats. the soldiers on the overcrowded little boats deterred swimmers with their rifles to avoid the boats being over toppled. He swam and swam, his wool uniform getting wetter and heavier. One mile out, too far to return, completely exhausted, one of the boats took pity on him and him pulled from the water as if he was drowning cat.

After his return from Dunkirk, he was reunited with his wife and two young children who had moved from Derby to Southport, to avoid the bombing of Rolls Royce. He was posted to Belfast and found a billet for the family at Dunmurry at the house of a prominent Loyalist Councillor. Despite the fact his wife Mary was very Roman Catholic and her grandfather was from Galway, she and the Protestant lady of the house got on very well, cooking together.

He retired early from the Prison Service due to ill health. Upon retirement he initially had a sweet shop in Derby. Then they decided to sell that business and move to Cornwall. With his pension savings he bought a small commercial property in the delightful postal village of Polperro and converted it to a Fruiter & Florist for several years.

Then they moved along the south Devon coast renting houses for awhile. In the 1970’s he returned to work as an Occupational Therapy instructor at St. Lloyds College, Exeter. He was very popular with the staff and students.

They bought two new houses, first in Bradninch, Devon and then finally in Barley Farm Lane, Exeter where he worked hard to landscape and cultivate the rear gardens. He always wore a tie, until his final days."

Here we see father and son, both masters of their craft, working together day after day. What a picture this paints!

The aim of this website is to bring the Steatham surname alive in a novel and evocative way. In the first instance we detail Steathams and their genealogy in the family tree. Lives are not just about dates and names, we always have to remember that all our Steathams had and do have lives just like ourselves.

These extra details here bring Gervase Lee Steatham alive to us, and reveal the person beyond just the facts and figures of his life.

In my case, whenever I hear the expression “our kid”, which incidentally my maternal grandfather used, I will be sure to think of Gervase Lee Steatham.

Many thanks to Nicholas Shorthose for giving this insight and bringing Gervase Lee Steatham's life to us.    All Rights Reserved.