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Edward Stepney (c. 1824–1864)

by Chris Cunneen

Edward Stepney, also known as Edward Stepley (c.1824-1864) labourer

Birth: about 1824, in Guinea, Africa. Marriage: 26 August 1861 in St Luke’s Church Adelaide, South Australia, to Elizabeth Doyle or Stewart (c.1827-1863). Death: 29 November 1864 in Adelaide Hospital. Religion: Anglican. 

  • His son Andrew (Andy) claimed that Edward was a “Zulu chief, captured young and turned into the boatswain of a British man-o’-war”. Andy also stated that his maternal grandmother was Aboriginal.
  • According to South Australian sources, Edward arrived in Adelaide from Plymouth in 1847 aboard the Tofaga, though no record of the arrival of a vessel of that name has been found to date.
  • Two children were born to Edward and Elizabeth, Andy in 1851 and Edward in 1855. Elizabeth signed with a mark on these records.
  • In March 1856 Stepney “a man of colour” was charged with riotous conduct. He “stated that he only beat his wife for getting drunk, which he contended he had an undoubted right to do”, and was fined £2.
  • His younger son Edward, twice arrested in October 1861 on minor theft charges, was sent to the destitute asylum “on account of having no home” and in December was found sleeping in the open.
  • Edward signed, by making his mark, on his marriage record in 1861; he resided in Currie Street, Adelaide.
  • In February 1863 Stepney was acquitted on a charge of indecent assault, brought by Alice Lindsay, on his 7-year old stepdaughter. The same year he faced other charges of drunkenness and obscene language.

Original Publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Stepney, Edward (c. 1824–1864)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Stepley, Edward

c. 1824


29 November, 1864 (aged ~ 40)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Social Issues