Keeping it in the Family

Luke Jeayes

Luke Jeayes. Donor ref:T, B JEA, img: 7667 (3/6950) Source: Libraries Heritage and Trading Standards, Warwickshire County Council


My Jeayes family are a family with a very uncommon spelling that seems to be concentrated mostly in Warwickshire England particularly in the city of Coventry and to a lesser extent, Rugby. While there are variations and possible links especially to the name Jeays from Leicester, they were educated and usually their name was spelt correctly, at least from the late 18th century onwards.

This particular story however, begins with Luke Jeayes, my fourth great uncle. He is rather well known in Rugby history for many roles, including Master at Elborow School, Parish Clerk and as a successful coal merchant with links further afield in Ealing. He was one of the younger sons of John Jeayes and Mary Steane and was baptised in Coventry on 9th January, 1810.[i]

The Jeayes family and the Steane family have a long history, intertwining together both in Coventry and in Rugby. One wonders, was this due to a lack of suitable partners or was it perhaps an effort to keep their wealth concentrated in the family and, particularly in regard to Luke, his coal merchant business?

Sorting out the relationships in my Steane family puzzle has taken quite a number of years, picking up pieces as new resources became available and, I have to say, not without more than a little help from my friends, but I am finally there, I think!

Firstly, my direct ancestor and father of Luke, was John Jeayes who had married Sarah Steane in 1792 in Stoke.[ii] John and Sarah do not appear to have had any children and it seems Sarah died, as John next makes an appearance in the Coventry records when he, as a widower, married by Banns a new wife, believed to be Sarah’s sister, Mary Steane in 1801. Witnesses were Isaac and Ann Steane.[iii] Mary was baptised in Coventry in 1779, the daughter of Isaac Steane and Sarah Jeffrey.[iv]

Luke grew up in Coventry and he was first apprenticed as a weaver in 1823 through the charity of Mrs Bailey of Coventry to James Richards, weaver, and then assigned from James Richards to his brother, George Jeayes, in 1827.[v] Obviously seeing the need to diversify in an ever changing economic climate, he became Master of Greyfriars Infants School in 1830 and by 1837 he was also a Freeman weaver at Broadgate. [vi]

The census of 1841 shows Luke as a schoolmaster in Frankton with his wife Frances and three of their children.[vii] Luke had married Frances Steane in Coventry in 1834.[viii] She was his first cousin, the daughter of his Uncle Isaac Steane and his wife, Mary Odell.[ix] Sadly, Frances died in January 1861 in Rugby leaving him with a brood of about seven children ranging in age from five to about 25 years old.[x]

Meanwhile, in Middlesex another first cousin of Luke’s, Mary Ann Steane who was born in Buckinghamshire in 1822, had married a soldier, Daniel Dunnett, in 1854.[xi] Mary Ann’s father was another of Luke’s Uncles, Thomas Steane.[xii] Both of Luke’s Uncles, Isaac and Thomas were brothers of Sarah and Mary Steane, his mother, mentioned at the beginning of the story. [xiii]

Luke’s Uncle Thomas had joined the army and it is presumed this is how he came to be living in Buckinghamshire and how Thomas’ daughter Mary Ann met the widowed soldier Daniel. Daniel was a good few years older than Mary Ann, almost 40 in fact and they don’t appear to have had any children before Daniel passed away in 1860 when he was aged 77 years.[xiv] To add to the confusion, Mary Ann also had a brother Thomas, an optician who ran a business in London and later in Rugby.[xv]

The next time the wedding bells pealed in the family was in Oxfordshire in the last few months of 1861 when Luke married another first cousin of both himself and Frances, his, by now, deceased first wife. Yes, this was Mary Ann Dunnett, nee Steane.[xvi] Mary Ann’s father, Thomas, the soldier, seems to have kept in contact with his Coventry family and it appears this must be how they met. After his wife had died in early 1863, Mary Ann’s father moved to Rugby and, at the advanced age of 83, passed away not long after, at the end of 1863.[xvii] It is quite possible he was living with Luke and Mary Ann, as his address was North Street where Luke had his coal business and, being on his own, it makes sense he would go to live with his daughter for his final years.

No doubt through his marriage to Mary Ann, and the close contact the family seemed to keep, Luke’s daughter Mary Jeayes came to meet or know Thomas, the optician mentioned earlier and Mary Ann’s brother. Closer in age as first cousins once removed, they must have got along quite well and were married in St Andrews, Rugby in 1864.[xviii] After their marriage, they then went back to London to live for a few years before moving back to Rugby again by 1875.[xix] Witnesses to the wedding were Mary Ann Jeayes (nee Steane formerly Dunnett) and Luke Jeayes.

To summarise, we have –

John Jeayes marrying two Steane sisters.

Luke Jeayes marrying two of his Steane first cousins who were also first cousins themselves.

Mary Jeayes, the daughter of Steane first cousins, marrying her Steane first cousin once removed.

So, Mary Ann Steane/Dunnett/Jeayes was both a step-Grandmother and Aunt to the children of her brother, Thomas, through his marriage to Luke’s daughter, Mary Jeayes, and her own marriage to Luke. She was also step-mother, sister-in-law and first cousin once removed to Mary Jeayes.

Luke Jeayes passed away in June 1881 in Rugby and is buried in St Andrews.[xx] It wasn’t quite the end of the story though. Mary Ann, his second wife, went on to run the coal business by herself and very well, it seems. She wrote her Will on 5th May, 1899, probably knowing she was seriously ill as she passed away just over a week later. She also is buried in St Andrews and by this time, her brother Thomas had passed away as well. [xxi]

Mary Ann bequeathed in her Will that the coal business be valued and offered for sale to Luke’s daughter, Elizabeth from his first marriage to Frances. Elizabeth was now the wife of James Adolphus Jones and if Elizabeth did not purchase the business within one month, then it was to be sold. Other beneficiaries were Luke’s sons Isaac Herbert and Charles Luke Jeayes and Charles Herbert and Percy Steane, the sons and only issue of Mary Ann’s brother, Thomas, that she referred to as her grandchildren but, as blood relatives, they were actually both her nephews and first cousins twice removed and then step-grandchildren.[xxii]

Mary Ann’s Estate was valued at over £5000 at the time of her death which was quite a considerable amount. Each beneficiary was to receive a one sixth share except Elizabeth, who was to receive two sixths shares.[xxiii] It appears Elizabeth did not purchase the business and it must have been sold to another buyer as in future census’ there is no change in occupation shown. If Mary Ann had not been a Steane, there is a fair possibility that some of Luke’s fortune may have been divided amongst family from outside the clan. Her wealth had increased in the time since Luke’s death when one might not expect it to do so. [xxiv]We will never know if this is something he considered at all, but it has been presented by some as a reason for marriages between cousins.

To bring the story to the present time, Charles Herbert and Percy Steane the grandsons of Luke are, as a consequence of this intermarrying, my second cousins thrice removed, my third cousins thrice removed and my second cousins four times removed.

[i] Parish Registers, Holy Trinity, Coventry, Warwickshire, England, Baptisms, 1745-1812, 9 January, 1810, Luke Jeayes.

[ii] Parish Registers, Stoke Warwickshire 1573-1876, Marriages, 7 November 1792, no. 146 pg. 37, John Jeayes and Sarah Steane.

[iii] Parish Registers, Holy Trinity, Coventry, Marriages 1778-1837, 22 September 1801, no 409 pg. 163, John Jeayes and Mary Steane.

[iv] Parish Registers, Holy Trinity, Coventry, Baptisms, 1745-1812, 10 March 1779, Mary Steane and St Michaels Coventry, Marriages, 28 November 1840, Mary Jeayes, widow, father Isaac Steane, weaver to John Thorneloe, widower, watchmaker, father John Thornloe, Weaver.

[v] Coventry Family History Society, Coventry Apprentice Enrolment Registers, Vol. 4. 1822-1831

[vi]  “Jeayes”(Obit), Kennings Rugby Family Almanac, 1882, Rugby Library and Coventry Apprentice Enrolment Registers, Vol. 5, 1832-1841, Coventry Family History Society

[vii] National Archives, Census of England and Wales, 1841, Frankton Village Warwickshire HO 107/1137 9/3 pg. 1

[viii] Parish Registers, Holy Trinity, Coventry, Marriages 1778-1837, 2 June 1834, No. 150, Pg. 50, Luke Jeayes and Frances Steane.

[ix] Op.cit., Census and other research that supports this argument available from the author.

[x] Rugby Family History Group, Rugby Burial Transcriptions, St Andrews entry no. 1473 10 Jan 1861 Frances Jeayes

[xi] GRO, Marriage Certificate, Entry No. 407?, 9 Sept 1854, Daniel Dunnett and Mary Ann Steane.

[xii] National Archives, Census of England & Wales, 1841, Wotten Underwood Buckinghamshire HO 107/39 22/3   Pg. 1

[xiii] LDS Family Search, IGI, Holy Trinity Coventry, Baptisms, Thomas Steane, 17 Aug 1780, Isaac Steane, 22 Oct 1781, Mary Steane, 10 March 1779 and St John Coventry, Baptisms Sarah Steane, 26 July 1773.

[xiv] National Probate Calendars, Wills 1860, Daniel Dunnett 28 Nov 1860, pg. 194. QFHS.

[xv] National Archives, Census of England & Wales, 1841-1881, various addresses in London & Rugby.

[xvi] The Free BMD Database, GRO, Marriage Index Transcriptions 1837-1983, Dec Qtr 1861, 3a 973 Oxford District,

[xvii] GRO, Death Certificates, Reg No. 171, 16 Sept 1863, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Mary Steane and Reg No 239, 16 Dec 1863, Rugby Warwickshire, Thomas Steane

[xviii], ‘St Andrews, Rugby Parish Registers’, Marriages, No. 352, 27 June 1864 Thomas Steane and Mary Jeayes.

[xix], ‘St Andrews, Parish Registers, Baptisms, P. 97 no. 774  15 Jan 1875, Percy Steane

[xx] National Probate Calendars, Wills, 1881, Luke Jeayes, Effects £3762.0.6d , 8 Sept 1881 p. 68. QFHS and Rugby Family History Group, Rugby Burials Transcriptions, St Andrews entry no. 2882, Luke Jeayes, 22 June 1881.

[xxi] The Free BMD Database, GRO, Death Index Transcriptions 1837-1983, Sept Qtr 1886, 6d 326, Rugby District,

[xxii] Jeayes, Mary Anne of Rugby Warwickshire Widow, Probate Birmingham, 27 July 1899, Copy held by author.

[xxiii] ibid.

[xxiv] Op.cit., National Probate Calendars, Wills, Luke Jeayes.

Photo : Luke Jeayes c. 1850-1859

Donor ref:T, B JEA, img: 7667 (3/6950)

Source: Libraries Heritage and Trading Standards, Warwickshire County Council

©Lynette Nunn 2016