STANSFIELD ANCESTRY

 

 

 

THE NORMANS

The Stansfield family are of Norman descent and the founder of the family was believed to be Wyon Maryons,  a follower of William de Warrene , Earl of Surrey, who came to England with William the Conqueror (also known as William the bastard) and fought at the battle of Hastings in 1066 which was the start of the occupation of England by the Normans. The earl was granted the manor of Wakefield, previously belonging to the Saxon kings,  which included the whole of the upper Calder valley with the exception of Todmorden and Walsden, probably for his part in suppressing a local uprising by the people there against the Normans. 

 Wyon obtained from King William the lordship of Stansfield in the county of Yorkshire which consisted of two churches and scattered dwellings for his help to the king at the battle of Hastings. It appears that he also helped to put down the uprising against the Normans.  This uprising was brutally suppressed and a lot of the county of Yorkshire was destroyed and many of the population killed.  The Normans are mistakenly believed to be of French origin but it appears that they were originally of Viking descent and the Normans landed in France in 940ad with their leader, Thorfinn Rollo who laid siege to Paris. Rollo became the first Duke of Normandy and converted to Christianity.  Duke William was a descendent of Duke Rollo of Normandy.

THE STANSFIELDS

Jordan de Stansfield, the son of Wyon Maryons was also lord of Stansfield and was succeeded down the generations by his son John, then Richard, then Edmond, then Ralph, then Henry, William and then Thomas who lived in the 14th century.  His grandson Thomas obtained Heptonstall in 1508 and his grandson acquired Sowerby in 1587.

 As was often the case in those days, people took their names from the place where they lived and often the word "de" (of or from) was inserted between their first name and the place name.  Eventually the de was dropped and the place name became the surname. 

The name of Stansfield of which there were about 40 variations of spelling came from stony-field and in the Calder Valley where the Stansfields lived, there are certainly plenty of stones around.  Most of the name variations are now extinct and exist only in the older records but a further list is shown below for interest. The main variations are now Stanfield, Stansfeld, Stanfill and Stanphill (the latter two probably changed after their emigration to the U.S.A.).

Until 1689 the name had been spelt Stansfeild but the first entry in the Heptonstall register to show the change to Stansfield was the baptism in February of a John Stansfield and the October burial of a Martha Stansfield on December 20 1692 and from that time on the name was spelt in the latter manner. 

A father and son, Thomas and John Standfield were among the six men from Tolpuddle in the county of Dorset (The Tolpuddle Martyrs) who were the founders of the first trade union which in their time was illegal. They were sentenced to transportation to Australia after being convicted by a jury but due to a public outcry their sentence was quashed and they were returned to England. They afterwards emigrated to Canada and one became mayor of his town.  In the village of Tolpuddle there is a museum dedicated to the history of the martyrs. There is also an excellent pub!!!

STANSFIELD EMIGRATION

Many of the Stansfields left England to emigrate to the New World and there are  members of family in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. One of the main reasons for this emigration, apart  from looking for a better life was the fact that some of them were Quakers who suffered persecution at that time and left in order to follow their faith.  There are still quite a few Quaker Stansfield families.

 Some examples of Stansfield arrivals in America are as follows, Francis Stanfield and his wife and four children who arrived in Virginia in 1646, John and Maria Stansfield arrived in New York in 1822 with four children, John and Thomas Standfield and their families settled in London, Ontario in 1844.

STANSFIELD LOCATIONS

The main location of the Stansfields is still in the North-west of England, in Todmorden, Rochdale, Burnley, Ashton-under-Lyne and a general radius of 20 or  so miles from the Calder valley, There are also some scattered branches in Lincolnshire, Dorset and the South-east of England.

The estimated distribution of Stansfield households in the world is as follows - Great Britain - 3800 USA - 800 Canada - 350 Australia - 280 New Zealand - 50 and South Africa - 70. This refers only to Stansfields and if the other variations of the name are added the figure would probably double. This information is fairly out-dated and the present totals could be considerably larger. If anyone has more recent information from their country or even all of them, I would appreciate it if they could advise me.

STANSFIELD VARIATIONS

Stainefeild, Stainesfeld, Stainsfeld,Stainesfeud, Stamfeild, Stampfeild, Stancefeild, Stancefeld, Standfield, Stanesfeld, Stanesfield, Stansfeld, Stanfill, Stanphill, Stansfeild and quite a few others which died out long ago. In earlier days, those who could write were few and far between and the names were written as they sounded which resulted in all the variations with regional accents also making a difference in the way the name was recorded.

MY OWN BRANCH OF THE FAMILY

 My own branch of the family were originally yeoman farmers and landowners in the hills above Cross stone chapel near Todmorden. With the industrial revolution, they came down into the valley where all the cotton mills had sprung up and carried on business as shopkeepers and whitesmiths, living at Millwood which is now part of Todmorden.  So far, with help from my co-researchers, Alison Wild and Ray Stansfield, we have managed to trace our ancestry back to 1594 with the wedding of Symon Stansfield and Jane Robarts which is the first entry in the Heptonstall church registers. Getting back further is proving a little difficult due to lack of church records but we are still hopeful of unearthing some document in one of the various records offices in Yorkshire that might take us back beyond 1594. I have actually visited the farmhouse where my ancestors lived at that time. Fortunately, when the development in the Calder valley started, all the old farmsteads located in the hills above the valley were left standing and not built over as they would have been if development had not moved elsewhere.

My own family tree is  HERE

STANSFIELD COATS OF ARMS

The Latin family motto of the Stansfield, Stanfield,Stansfeld families and other variations of the name who were entitled to bear arms was "NOSCE TE IPSUM" (know thyself) which, even in the present time is a worthy ambition. Only certain branches of the family (a very small number) are entitled to coats of arms granted by those who can prove their lineage to the college of heralds and satisfy the heralds that they can show unbroken lineage from those originally granted the coat of arms. Although there are variations of the arms depending on the family, the common theme is of three silver goats (trippant or tripping) but there are sometimes differences in the background colours, sable, black or green. There are examples of Stansfield arms in Stansfield hall (Todmorden), Heptonstall church, Elland chapel, Stansfield chapel at Guiseley and Sowerby church.

The goat is the emblem of a man who wins a victory by the employment of policy rather than valour!! with three of them on their shields the stansfields must have been  pretty smart cookies!!

  EXAMPLES OF THE FAMILY COATS OF ARMS

                                            

 

THE STANSFIELD HOMELAND

The Calder Valley is mainly in the county of Yorkshire in North-west England but some of the Stansfield area of origin goes over into the County of Lancashire. This can present difficulties in Stansfield research because the records could be held at either of the County records offices.

 The valley is an impressive place, carved out by the ice age, it is a deep valley rising quite steeply up into the hills and stony meadows of the higher parts of the valley and becoming almost gorge like in some places. The valley is liable to flooding and the people of Todmorden had to endure a flood of four or five feet depth very recently.  The main occupation of the population was hill farming, mostly sheep and life was extremely hard. 

Although the area is very picturesque in the Summer, the winters can sometimes be quite severe and that together with the high infant mortality rate plus the occasional plague could bring severe problems.  It was not uncommon for families to have more than ten children, most of whom would die before reaching adulthood or even reaching their first year of life. 

During the 15th century, due the favourable climatic conditions for spinning and weaving and the abundance of soft water, mills started to spring up all over the area for both wool and cotton in addition to the corn mills that already existed. Eventually this industry expanded and the vast majority of the population were eventually involved in work relating to the mills.  Very few of the mills now remain and those that do are used mainly for other purposes.

The central township of the Stansfield area is Todmorden, a small town noted for its market which is one of the best in the North-west. There is also Hebden Bridge which is now mostly dedicated to being a tourist attraction. A short walk up a very steep hill from Hebden Bridge is the village of Heptonstall, which, in its time, was also  a centre for the weaving and spinning industry. Heptonstall church was also very important for baptisms, marriages and burials in Stansfield as was Cross stone chapel situated at the top of a steep hill outside Todmorden.

Stansfield is shown in the Doomsday book but is spelt Stansfelt. The date of the first reference to the area was in 1086.

 Stansfield hall which features in earlier Stansfield history still stands although mostly rebuilt in 1880 and it is believed that a Stansfield who had lived there was the founder of Cross stone chapel. The available historical information would indicate that the original hall was built around 1385 by Thomas Stansfield since the Stansfield arms and those of the Lassell family  were found in some plaster work over a fireplace. Thomas Stansfield married Barbara Lassell around 1385. The last Stansfield to live in Stansfield hall was James Stansfield who moved away in 1536. The hall was sold to a John Pilling in the middle of the 17th century. He sold it to a Joshua Horton in 1675. and it then came into the possession of the Sutcliffe family  in 1696 who held it until 1851 when it was bought by Joshua Fielden. It is now sub-divided into apartments.

Cross stone chapel is regarded as the main church of the Stansfield family. Unfortunately it is no longer open to the public as it was sold privately as a residence but a visit is still worth while due to its location.  The lanes leading from the church go up into the impressive moorland with scattered farms and wonderful views across the Calder Valley.

The area was noted for its religious diversity and seemingly every different facet of Christianity was practiced under one name or another in many of the little chapels that sprang up and the noted evangelist John Wesley visited the area several times. 

Stansfield no longer exists in its old form but there is still a Stansfield moor and Stansfield hall  whilst the name is also remembered in street names.

There is a village of Stansfield in the county of Suffolk in eastern England which I have visited but can find no links whatsoever to the north-western stansfield area. There is a beautiful church there immortalized in a painting by the well-known English artist John Piper, a copy of which is in my possession. (see below) 

There are two excellent books on the subject of the Calder valley both published by Smith Settle, Ilkley Road, Otley, West Yorkshire If anyone wishes to find out more information, they are as follows:-

PENNINE VALLEY by Bernard Jennings  ISBN 1 870071 93 X (paperback) 1 870071 94 8(hardback). 

A HISTORY OF TODMORDEN by Malcolm and Freda Heywood and Bernard Jennings ISBN 1 85825 057 9(paperback) 1 85825 058 7 (hardback)

For those wishing to obtain the complete records of Heptonstall and Cross Stone churches from 1594 to 1837, these are available from Douglas Wilson, Calder Bank, 52 Burnley Road, Todmorden. OL14 5LH. telephone 01706 813430. There are 3 volumes which include the Stansfields. Baptisms, Marriages and Burials and the cost of each book is 12.50. If you are doing research, they are invaluable and the information is clearly laid out.

THE STANSFIELD BOOK

This book contains detailed history of some of the Stansfield branches plus all the records for the churches of Heptonstall and Cross Stone in detail from 1594 onwards.

 Download here  THE STANSFIELD BOOK

There is a  link to an excellent site for  Stansfield family researchers HERE