The Legend of John Stapp and Wife, Mary Cunningham (Woodward) of Buckinghamshire, England
The Legend of John Stapp of Buckinghamshire has been passed down over the last 40 years. Only until recently has new evidence surfaced that will make a big difference on who is to be believed as the father of 'brothers,' Abraham and Joshua Stepp/Stapp of Virginia. This report will give documentary evidence to support the case...

First of all, I think it would be outstanding to describe how John Stapp of Buckinghamshire has become known as the father of our American ancestors, Abraham and Joshua. In Henry P. Scalf's book, The Stepp/Stapp Families of America, he points out 2 probable ancestors for the American Stepp/Stapp Family. We will discuss all of these:

First Scalf mentions John Stapp of Newport-Pagnell, Buckinghamshire. To quote Scalf's words, "Genealogist are inclined to believe this John Stapp of Buckingham was the ancestor of the American Stapps and since this hazardous assumption is entertained, his will is examined here in some detail."  (A complete transcription of John's Will can be found here)

A marriage record between John Stapp and wife Mary Woodward was found by William Wayne Stepp and published in his book, The Stepp Family Chronicles. The marriage date was 18 May, 1830 and location was Newport-Pagnell, Buckinghamshire. Recently though, the will of John's wife Mary (Woodward) Stapp has been discovered.  In her will (which you can find here), Mary mentions her "brothers, John and Henry Cunningham."  So then the thought was raised, was Mary and her Cunningham brothers, half-siblings?  Up to that point, Woodward was the only surname known to researchers.

Almost immediately, another marriage record was found between a certain 'Mary Coningham and John Woodward.' The date of this marriage was 15 Apr, 1628 and location was also Newport-Pagnell, Buckinghamshire!  Thus Mary's real maiden name was CUNNINGHAM and that she must have either divorced or been widowed from her first husband, John Woodward and married John Stapp two years after her first marriage. Almost all Stepp-Stapp researchers incorrectly list Mary as being Mary Woodward, and they are only half-right. Her real maiden name was Mary Cunningham.

So now we know that John Stapp and Mary Cunningham (Woodward) married in 1630. If that was the case, then they would both be aged anywhere from 20-40 at the time of marriage.  You would think that if Abraham and Joshua were their sons, then the boys would have been born in the time period right after the marriage, from 1630-1640. 

But there is a problem with this case- both John and Mary gave their wills in 1658. John and Mary must have both been elderly by this time (probably around 60 years old). Our own research has concluded Abe and Josh to have been born abt. 1650...it would be extremely unlikely that John and Mary would be able to give birth to either of the boys, being that they were around 60 years old at the time!

Also, why aren't Abe and Josh mentioned in either of the wills of John or Mary?  They still would have had full legal right to any land granted to them by John or Mary in England, because the Colonies were still part of English rule and the Colonist were still British citizens. It just wouldn't make sense for John and Mary to leave male heirs out of their Wills.

As you can see from Mary's Will, she donated most of her property and monies to her grandson, Thomas Worrall Jr. and to her brothers' children. She even went as far as to donate money to the "poore of the parish of Newport-Pagnell."  Yet there is no mention of her "sons" or even the names Abraham or Joshua.

Because of this evidence, or rather the lack of evidence, it is extremely unlikely that John Stapp and wife Mary of Newport-Pagnell would be the parents of Abraham or Joshua. It is still a possibility that they are related, maybe as grandparents, but even still there is no mention of a son of John and Mary. So that too seems highly unlikely.

Since the Stepp-Stapp DNA project started in October 2004, male descendants of Abraham and Joshua have tested and MATCHED male Stapp lines in Lincolnshire, England.  The matches give further evidence that John & Mary Stapp of Buckinghamshire are not the parents of Abe and Josh, and rather that the brothers were from Lincolnshire not Buckinghamshire.

Report written and published by David-Alan Stapp, 25 August 2005.