I'd love to tell you where Stephen Harding was born. It was likely in Northamptonshire, England but the exact location is not known. There are a lot of trees on the internet that say he was born in 1623 in Braintree, Norfolk County, Massachusetts. I haven't been able to verify that. His father is believed to have been a Richard Harding, but again I'm not finding documentation. If we're not sure who his father is, then we're definitely not sure who his mother is.
Also there are differing opinions on when he arrived in Providence, Rhode Island. Some seem to think it was directly from England, but many think he lived in Braintree, then Rehoboth, Massachusetts and then Swanzey, Rhode Island, before settling in Providence. He may well have lived in each of these locations, for he was a blacksmith by trade and could count on earning a living wherever he went. It seems that he married Bridget Estance, probably the daughter of Thomas Estance, but again the location for that varies, from Rehoboth to Swanzey.
Stephen and Bridget had nine children; Abraham, John, Stephen, Priscilla, Sarah, and Mary, as well as three daughters, unnamed. The last seems to have been born about 1662.
We do know, as mentioned, that Stephen was a blacksmith, and is reputed to have been a Baptist, which would be a good reason for his many moves. Baptists weren't welcomed in Massachusetts, but were able to practice their religion in Providence. He was made a freeman in Providence in 1669 and stayed there the rest of his life, until his death on February 20, 1697/98..
I haven't found yet what happened to Stephen and his wife during King Philip's War. All but a few homes in Providence were burned, so the likelihood is that his was one of those. It must have been hard at the age of 53 or 54 to start over, building not only a home for himself and his family but also a new community.
Stephen would have known Roger Williams and his family. In fact, his grandson married a granddaughter of Roger Williams, which is how we descend from Roger Williams, also. Another descendant of Stephen Harding was Warren Gamaliel Harding, former President of the United States.
I'd love to know more about Stephen, and to definitely know his place of birth. I need to find his will, also, if there is one. I find the people of Providence fascinating, and I'll be glad to learn more about him.
The line of descent is:
Stephen Harding-Bridget Estance
Abraham Harding-Deborah Gardner
Mercy Harding-Samuel Winsor
Joseph Winsor-Deborah Mathewson
Lillis Winsor-Nathan Paine
Deborah Paine-Enos Eddy
Joseph B Eddy-Susan Lamphire
Susan Eddy-Hiram Stanard
Louis Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen