Joseph Stevens and Sarah Ann Preston
Joseph Stevens was one of ten children born to Joseph Stevens and Mary Ann Ames
Joseph Stevens and Mary Ann Ames had married on 16 December 1844 and in 1851 they were living at Rockery Street, Wednesfield where 28 year old Joseph was a "jobbing smith". Their eldest three children had been born, but not their son Joseph. By 1861 the
In 1874 Joseph Stevens junior became self-employed as an engineering blacksmith with premises in Cross Street trading under the title of J Stevens & Co. On 5 January 1874,
Joseph Stevens had married Sarah Ann Preston. They went on to raise a total of 9 children. There were 5 sons , Harry (born 1876), George (born 1878), Joseph (born 1881) Albert John ("Jack") (born 1885) and William ("Billie") (born 1893) and four daughters Lucy (born 1875), Lily (born 1884), Ethel May (born 1888) and Daisy Ann (born 1890).
In 1881 the family were living at Hickman Street, Wednesfield where 27 year old Joseph was a jobbing smith and press tool maker.
"Joe quickly established an enviable reputation as a highly skilled craftsman who would undertake to repair or
In 1891 the family were living at 36 St Mark Street where 36 year old Joseph was a press tool maker. His eldest son Harry, aged 14 years was a press tool maker, the remaining children were still at school.
"Harry, the eldest son eventually joined his father in the
"In 1894 the business moved to Tempest Street. Later Joe Stevens acquired a small American built "Mitchell" single cylinder four stroke petrol engine........................it aroused Harry's interest..................set about to produce his own version"".
And so it was that in 1901 Joseph and Sarah were living at 11 Tempest Street, Wednesfield. 46 year old Joseph is still described as a press tool maker. Their sons George, Joseph and Albert were living at home and were all described as machine fitters. Their son Harry was not listed. Their daughters Lilly Ethel and Daisy are listed. Lilly, although only aged 14 is a commercial clerk.
Sarah Ann Preston died on 9 June 1907 in Wolverhampton.
Joseph remarried in 1908. His second wife was Sarah Williams.
In 1911 Joseph and his second wife were living at 149 Penn Road, Wolverhampton where 57 year old Joseph was a screw manufacturer. All his daughters remained at home although the eldest Lucy is married. Only their youngest son William remains at home.
Sarah Stevens died in 1933 in Wolverhampton.
Joseph Stevens of Strathearn Trysall Road, Wolverhampton died on 16 August 1941 in Wolverhampton. Probate was granted to Jabez Lawley Wood and Joseph William Henry Simpson, company secretaries and Norman Fredrick Steward,
Lucy Hadley nee Stevens
Lucy Stevens married William Hadley on 15 April 1895 in Wolverhampton.
In 1901 they were living at Herlman Street, Wednesfield where 28 year old William was a "vermin trap maker".
In 1911 William and Lily were living with Lucy's father and step mother Joseph and Sarah Stevens at 149 Penn Road, Wolverhampton. William was a trap maker (vermin). The couple had two daughters
- Daisy Nellie Hadley. Born 1898 in Wednesfield.
- Gladys Hadley. Born 1904 in Wednesfield.
Lucy Hadley died in 1957 in Wolverhampton.
Gladys married Thomas Godfrey Barrett in 1926 in Wolverhampton.
Daisy N Hadley married William L Jones in 1929 in Wolverhampton.
In 1948 Daisy (Jones) and Gladys (Barrett) were directors of The Stevens Screw Company along with other family members.
Harry Stevens and Annie Game
Harry had been working with his father since he was 14. Having had his interest in petrol engines aroused
"Harry and his father were quick to recognise the huge potential.................
a new company was formed in during the summer of 1899 under the title "The Stevens Motor Manufacturing Company". In order to finance the venture.................it was agreed George, Joe Junior and Jack would take outside jobs. As things turned out the business got off to a good start and before long each brother in turn was recalled to the works".
In the same year Harry Stevens married Annie
"It was around that time Harry turned his attention to road going vehicles........after reading an article on powered bicycles he set about constructing a machine of his own".
Initial tests were to prove most promising ......... The four brothers set about tidying the machine prior to having their photo taken with it at Jones Bros. the ....picture was taken in 1900"
It is therefore somewhat surprising that in 1901 Harry and Annie were living at 29 Ruby Street and 24 year old Harry still describes himself as employed as a metal screw and rivet maker
"Before long news of the Stevens machine came to the notice of William Clarke, chairman of the Wearwell Motor Carriage Co Ltd..............in due course a suitable contract was drawn up.........the first Wearwell-Stevens motor bicycle was to appear during the spring of 1901"
"During the early part of 1903 the brothers constructed their first complete motorcycle made r entirely of their own products and proudly bearing the Stevens name. The machine, designed by Harry Stevens, had a modern appearance.............the main frame was unusual in that it was of open design and ideal suited to the long skirts worn by female riders of the day"
Although this first machine never made it into production
"Demand for Stevens products rapidly grew to such an extent, that a move to a larger premises in Pelham Street was necessary during February 1904".
"Towards the end of 1904 it was decided to form a Limited Company to encompass the interest of "The Stevens Motor Manufacturing Company" and "J Stevens & Co".........................a maximum share capital of £5,000 was made available of which £2,000 was issued. The subscribers being Joe Stevens Senior, W Barnett ( a partner with Joe Stevens in J Stevens & Co) , H Stevens, W H Haden (gentleman), G Stevens, T E Lowe (accountant) and F R W Hayward (solicitor). W h Haden, Joe Stevens senior and W Barnett were Company Directors"
"During the summer of 1905 the company experienced financial difficulties...........This did nothing to deter the brothers from continuing to develop new engines..........."
"Later ...........they were to gain a useful contract to produce motorcycle engines for..........Clyno" "Just as things began to improve the business arrangement between William Clarke and the Stevens family came to a sudden end..........the sudden closure of Wearwell".
"In view of these difficult circumstances the Stevens Brothers decided they should produce their own machines"
"it fell to Harry Stevens to design the first two A J S Motorcycles......"
"The first machines were completed by August 1910........."
And so by 1911, Harry now living at 40 Mander Street, Wolverhampton gives his occupation as a petrol motor manufacturer (motorcycle) and confirms that he was an employer.
Harry and Annie had had a daughter Edna Mary Stevens who had been born in 1904 and was seven years old at the time the census was taken. Edna died on 25 February 1913 aged eight years old.
George Stevens and Florence Sarah Capper
In 1901 George was living with his parents at Tempest Street and the 22 year old was a fitters mechanic.
In 1904 George married Florence Sarah Capper
In 1911 George and Florence were living at 14 Rayleigh Road, Wolverhampton. George, aged 32, giving his occupation as a mechanical engineer now acting as general manager for a motor cycle manufacturer. George and Florence had three children
- Florence Esme Stevens. Born 1905
- Joseph Hanford Stevens. Born 20 January 1906
- Madeline Millicent Stevens. Born 16 March 1907
Visiting at the time was Samuel Bertie Elliott, a 31 year old Gas engineer (street lighting). It is not clear what his connection with the family was. The family had one living in servant, 16 year old Lucy Evelyn May Williams.
George Stevens of 3 Richmond Avenue, Wolverhampton died on 11 September 1952 at New Cross Hospital, Heath Town, Wolverhampton. Probate was granted to his widow Florence.
Florence Sarah Stevens of 2 Richmond Avenue, Wolverhampton, widow, died on 23 April 1955 at Ashwood House. Kingswinford. Probate was granted to Madeline Millicent Noble (wife of James Dunman Noble).
A biography of George and Florence's son Joseph from "Australian Biographers" reads as follows:
"Joseph Hanford Stevens (1906-1976), businessman, was born on 20 January 1906 at Wolverhampton, England, son of George Stevens, motor-works manager, and his wife Florence Sarah, née Capper. George and his three brothers produced the famous A.J.S. marque motorcycles, as well as four-wheel vehicles and radios. Educated at Wolverhampton Grammar School, Hanford joined the family firm and gained experience in all its sections. He rode A.J.S. motorcycles in Isle of Man Tourist-Trophy races, won the Belgian Grand Prix in 1925, and was said to be the first person to exceed 100 miles (161 km) per hour on a motorcycle on sand. In 1929 he obtained a flying licence.
By 1931 Stevens was the company's export sales manager. He met Kathleen Winifred Griffin, an 18-year-old stenographer, at Toronto, Canada, and married her a week later at Yonkers, New York, on 11 September 1931. On his return to England, he found that A.J.S. had gone into voluntary liquidation. A small screw-manufacturing business operated by the Stevens family survived and he worked there until 1937 when he joined the Bristol Aeroplane Co.
In September 1939 that firm sent him to Australia to assist with the local production of Beaufort bombers. About six hundred sub-contractors in several States manufactured parts for the aircraft; these components were transported to Fishermens Bend, Melbourne, and Mascot, Sydney, for final assembly. Stevens held a succession of managerial posts in Melbourne and played a key role in the success of a project which delivered seven hundred Beauforts to the Royal Australian Air Force between August 1941 and August 1944.
Appointed to the Commonwealth Public Service on 6 May 1948, Stevens served at Canberra House, London, until 1953 as senior representative in Britain of the Department of Supply and the Department of Defence Production. He negotiated with the English Electric Co. Ltd to build the Canberra bomber in Australia. Back in Melbourne, he was assistant-secretary, aircraft production, Department of Defence Production. In 1954 he travelled abroad as a member of the R.A.A.F.'s re-equipment mission.
Stevens left the public service in 1956, having accepted an invitation from (Sir) Charles Hayward, chairman of Firth Cleveland Ltd in Britain, to become managing director of a subsidiary, Simmonds Aero-Accessories (Aerocessories) Pty Ltd, located at Ballarat, Victoria. Established in a former munitions factory, the business produced fasteners for the aviation and automotive industries. Stevens expanded operations, built a new factory and increased the number of employees to more than four hundred. He retired in 1973.
In the mid-1960s the Victorian government had appointed Stevens to the Decentralization Advisory Committee, which recommended various rural centres for accelerated development. He was active in the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures and in community work. Convivial and a good mixer, he was liked and respected by his colleagues and employees. He died of cancer on 25 September 1976 at Ballarat and was cremated with Anglican rites; his wife, and their daughter and son survived him. The naming of the J. Hanford Stevens library at Sebastapol Secondary College acknowledged his term (1963-76) as president of the council of the former technical school".
George and Florence's daughter Millie married Tommy Spann at St Peters Collegiate Church , Wolverhampton in April 1930
"The bride who was given away by her father George Stevens was attended by four adult bridesmaids and two children, while one of the two pageboys was none other than Master Murray Walker".
Joseph Stevens and Lucy Annie Habball
In 1901 Joseph "Joe Junior" was living with his parents at Tempest Street and the 19 year old was a fitters mechanic.
"By taking outside jobs to supplement their income the brothers struggled on until the revival of the motorcycle trade in 1908. They began to produce motor cycle frames as well as engines for their old customer Wearwell. To fully test the machines Joe Junior and Jack began to ride "Wolf" machines in reliability trials..............Many gold and silver medals were gained between May 1909 and August 1910".
In 1910 Joe married Lucy Annie Habball.
In 1911 they were living at 10 Alexandra Road, Penn, Wolverhampton. The census indicates they had been married less than one year and 29 year old Joe was a Works Manager at a motor cycle maker.
Joe and Lucy had three children:
- Joan Mary Stevens. Born 1911
- Geoffrey Henry Stevens. Born 15 August 1913. Died 1982
- Alec John Stevens, born 1921.
Joseph Stevens of 22 Birchwood Road, Wolverhampton died on 9 October 1957. He was 77 years old. Probate was granted to his widow Lucy Ann..
Lucy Ann Stevens, widow, of 22 Birchwood Road, Wolverhampton, died on 20 March 1961 at New Cross Hospital. She was 79 years old. Probate was granted to Joan Mary Stevens, spinster and Geoffrey Henry Stevens, engineer.
Both were buried at St Phillips Graveyard, Penn Fields, Wolverhampton
Their son Geoff was the first president of the AJS 9 Car Club
Their son Alec made one of the last two motorcycles produced by the family
"There were however two motorcycles still left to be made. Close cousins Alec and Jim Stevens , both sixteen years of age at the time, quite naturally wanted motorcycles to ride. Their father Joe Stevens Junior or "Billie" reckoned there would be enough bits and pieces left over at the works to complete two machines. These were the last Stevens motorcycles ever made"
Lily Wood nee Stevens.
In 1901 Lilly was living with her parents at Tempest Street and although only 14 is working as a commercial clerk.
In 1903 "Lily............was the first to ride the Stevens machine on the roads of Wolverhampton. In doing so she became the town's first woman motor cyclist, She was soon to be followed by her younger sisters Ethel and Daisy"
Around 1910 "Joe Stevens senior had secured premises in Regent Street for the Stevens Screw Co Ltd. The company........was run by Joe Senior and two of his daughters Lily and Daisy".
In 1911 Lilly was living with her parents at 149 Penn Road, Wolverhampton. She was 24 years old and a clerk at a screw manufacturers.
Lilly Stevens married Jabez Lawley Wood in 1914 in Wolverhampton. Jabez Lawley Wood was the son of Jabez Wood (1857-1910) and Ann Williams (1853 - ). In 1911 Jabez was living with his brother in law Albert John Stevens at 47 Rayleigh Road, Wolverhampton. Albert had married Jabez's sister in 1908. Also at the address was Jabez's widowed mother and his siblings Arthur Wood, aged 18, a mechanic at a motor factory and his sister, Nellie Wood, aged 16. Jabez, aged 20 was a clerk at a motor factory.
The photograph of the bridal party outside the motorcycle works in Retreat Street, in "AJS of Wolverhampton", was taken just after the company went public
Jabez and Lilly had a son Douglas Lawley Stevens Wood born on 1 February 1918 at Wolverhampton.
In 1948 Lilly Woods was a director of The Stevens Screw Company Ltd
Jabez Lawley Wood died in 1972 in Hexham, Northumberland.
On 5 June 1939, their son Douglas Lawley Stevens Wood, a cost accountants assistant of Brentwood, Riley Crescent, Wolverhampton gained his pilots licence in a Moth Major at the Midland Aero Club, the same club where his cousin Joseph Hanford Stevens had gained his licence on 24 June 1929. Douglas died in 1987 in Hexham, Northumberland.
Albert John Stevens and Harriett Wood.
In 1901 Albert John Stevens ("Jack") was living with his parents at Tempest Street and the 16 year old was a fitters mechanic.
In 1907 Albert married Harriett Wood. Harriett was the daughter of Jabez Wood (1857-1910) and Ann Williams (1853 - ).
In 1909 "To protect the existing name of their proprietary engines , it was thought necessary to introduce a new name for the motorcycles. After much deliberation, they chose to use initials only, as only one brother Jack had two Christian names (Albert John) the new Marque was christened A.J.S".
In due course the brothers formed a new partnership under the title of A J Stevens & Co Ltd on 14 November 1909. A share capital of £1,000 was issued with all shares held by the directors, H Stevens, G Stevens, J Stevens junior and A J Stevens".
In the 1911 census taken on 2 April, Albert John and Harriett were living at 47 Rayleigh Road, Wolverhampton. Albert, aged 26, describes himself as a motor cycle manufacturer. For his wife's name he writes "Mrs A J Stevens".
Albert and Harriett had a daughter Ruby Stevens, who born in 1908 was two years old when the census was taken.
Also at the address was Albert's mother in law, Mrs J Wood and Harriett's siblings (see above). Two of these worked in a motor factory and I'm guessing they worked for the Stevens.
"In 1911 it was announced by the Auto Cycle Union, that the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Races would be changed from the 15 mile 1430 yard short course...........to a new 37 ½ mile 'Mountain Circuit" .............The brothers realising the importance of the sport to their trade decided to enter two carefully prepared machines...............one would be ridden by Jack Stevens"
"They proved extremely reliable and finished the gruelling race in fifteenth and sixteenth place. But for a 'tumble' when lying sixth, Jack Stevens would have certainly finished higher than his sixteenth place"
A second daughter, Marjorie Nellie Stevens was born in 1912.
Albert John Stevens died in 1956.
"Old age and illness gradually took their toll, until only Jack Stevens was left. Appropriately it was his initials that will remain as the family memorial. He died in 1956 ".
Jack's daughters are pictured below
Ethel May Simpson nee Stevens
In 1903 "Whilst out riding the bike Ethel was stopped by a policeman in Darlington Street. Being only fourteen years of age at the time she pretend to be her elder sister and later produced Lily's licence at the police station".
In 1911 Ethel, aged 22 was living with her parents at 149 Penn Road, Wolverhampton and was employed as a clerk at her fathers screw works.
Ethel married Joseph William Henry Simpson on 25 December 1911. At the time of the 1911 census, Joseph, aged 25, a manufacturers clerk for a motor car manufacturer, was living with his widowed father, a self employed pianist at 109 Oak Street, Wolverhampton.
In 1915 Joseph and Ethel were living at 88A Bruford Road, Wolverhampton when Joseph, a managing clerk at a steel screw manufacturers, enlisted in the Royal Engineers.
In 1948 "William" Simpson was a director of the Stevens Screw Company Ltd.
They had one child, Pat Stevens.
Daisy Weir nee Stevens
In 1911 Daisy was living with her parents at 149 Penn Road, Wolverhampton and aged 20 was a shop assistant at a boot makers, the only child not working in the family business at that time.
Daisy married Henry Mervyn Weir in 1917 in Wolverhampton.
The had a son Allan Lane Weir who was born on 3 June 1920 in Wolverhampton.
Henry Mervyn Weir died in 1973 in Wolverhampton
Allan Lane Weir died in 1995 in Wolverhampton.
William Stevens and Nester.
In 1911 was living with his parents at 149 Penn Road, Wolverhampton and aged 17 was an assistant engineer in the motorcycle business.
During the first world war, the War Office appealed for volunteers to become despatch riders and "William, the fifth and youngest of the Stevens Brothers known to the others as "Young Billie" signed up.....................Billie later saw service in Salonika and the Dardanelles"
"Billie" had only played a minor role in the motorcycle business, usually working with his father Joe Senior and his sisters in the Stevens Screw Company"
In 1948 Billie was a director of The Stevens Screw Company
Billie married Mary Nesta Jones in 1919 in Wolverhampton. They had two children
- Jim (Harry Lloyd) Stevens
- Dillys Wynne Stevens
William Stevens of Bodaethwy, Lonsdale Road, Wolverhapton died on 18 May 1953 at Manor Hospital, Walsall. Probate was granted to Mary Nesta Stevens, widow.
Mary Nesta Stevens of Bodaethwy, Lonsdale Road, Wolverhapton died on 20 April 1954. Administration was granted to Harry Lloyd Stevens and Dilys Wynne Clem (wife of Roy Thomas Clem).
Their son Jim with his cousin Alec was responsible for the last two Stevens motorcycles ever to be produced.............................
Jim Stevens is our former club president and is pictured below with his wife Joan outside the Black Country Museum in 1998
Most of the "quotes" in this text are from "AJS of Wolverhampton" by S J Mills