I decided to recheck all my sources. Harriet's marriage certificate lists her father as John STILING, a farmer, so I searched the census again with Ancestry.co.uk, including spelling variants. Still no joy. The Broadhembury STILINGS were still the only likely option. I then went through my digital folders and came across a file called 'Stilings on the 1841 census'. I had another look and this time saw a John and Grace STILING in the Tiverton area (how I'd not noticed that before is beyond me). I searched for them in this area and sure enough John and Grace topped the list! They had been transcribed as Steling. Someone seems to have originally recorded the name as Styling and someone's attempt to correct it allowed it to be misread as Steling.
Another John STILING farmer - this time at West Barton Farm near Tiverton
I am more confident that these are my STILINGS - not only because of the wife, Grace but also because they reside in the Tiverton area which is where I found Harriet working as a servant on the 1841 census and her location at the time of her marriage. However, until I see the birth records, I have no hard evidence that Grace is, in fact, Harriet's mother and that this is MY family, as she never appears with her parents on a census.
- Visit Devon library to locate Harriet's baptism entry in the parish records.