The Stevens family was somewhat unusual in its care in preserving the papers of many of its members; this care extended to the papers of families whose daughters married members of the Stevens family, in particular the letters to William Townesend, an Oxford mason, from Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough (D/ESv (B) F30) and also those of the Pern family, (D/ESv (B) F31-35), which are of interest as illustrative of a clerical family in the eighteenth century.
The papers had been divided into two portions, held by different members of the family, both of whom have deposited their portions in the Berkshire Record Office. Since the papers are so closely linked and each catalogue is complementary to the other, this introductory note is intended to refer to both D/ESv (B) and D/ESv (M).
These two linked collections descended to different branches of the family and were separately deposited, but are clearly one original archive, namely the estate and family papers of the Stevens family of Berkshire and Oxfordshire (later of Bradfield, Berkshire), 1614 - 1937. Items of special interest include letters and orders to Henry Stevens, wagonmaster general to Charles I, 1643 - 1644; the papers of Thomas Stevens, founder of Bradfield College, 1818 - 1881, and the letter books of the College, 1861 - 1878; the papers of William Townsend, a mason employed on the construction of Blenheim Palace, 1722 - 1732; papers of Joseph Brooks, agent to the Duke of Marlborough, 1779 - 1809; and papers of Captain John Stevens of London, mariner and merchant, 1742 - 1777. There is also a collection of marriage licences straying from the Bradfield parish records, 1759 - 1835.