Steeven was born on 5 May 1801. His father, A. van Delden, and his mother Philippina Hendrika Westenerk, came from Deventer and both signed the contract registering Steeven’s admission as a trainee at 13 years of age. The dates noted down are those on which Steeven reached certain educational milestones, such as the calculation of high and low tide and the use of a compass. On one occasion he won a prize: he came top of his class for work on board ship and was presented with a telescope. During his training, Steeven served as an ordinary seaman on voyages to Petersburg and Cadiz. On 25 March 1818 his registration came to an end. He received a “certificate of honorable attendance” (honorable attestatie) and an exemption from national military service.