Thursday, April 15, 2010

Staniland - meaning of the name

My mate Kyle has launched his own family history blog ( - describing a set of ancestors from a completely different my own in name and origin. Except for his BRIMACOMBE line which reaches back into Devonshore like my BORDER line. Kyle wrote a great article about the meaning of his surname, and will few of the names I deal with are nearly as unique, the name STANILAND is a little odd.

Kyle quoted extensively from Patronymica Britannica: A dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom by Mark Antony Lower and published in 1860 (London). It covers the meaning of surnames and their origins, and while not comprehensive it also includes a delightful appendix of British names not covered in the book (including BORDER).

But in this book STANILAND does not appear, nor any derivative of it.

English surnames first appear (at least in the surviving historical record) in the 'record of the Exchequer called Domesday' compiled in 1086, brought to England by the Normans twenty years earlier. Many had only Christian names though, and there was certainly a lag before the common folk of England were applying surnames. The first treatise on English surnames appears to be a chapter in Remaines Concerning Britain by William Camden - the edition I've accessed on Google books was printed in 1674. Names have always mattered, and been an indicator of class, as shown by the following story related by Camden:

"But shortly after {the Domesday book of 1086}, as the Romans of better sort had three names... so it seemed a disgrace for a Gentleman to have but one single name, as the meaner sort and bastards had. For the daughter and heir of Fitz Hamon, a great Lord... when King Henry the First would have married her to his base son Robert, she first refusing answered 'It were to me a great shame, To have a Lord withouten his twa name' whereupon his Father gave him the name of Fitz Roy."

My STANILAND ancestors came from Lincolnshire (1800's) and before then Nottingham (apparently centered originally in the villages surrounding East Markham). In the 1700's records are spelt STANILAND, STANNILAND or STANNYLAND.

One reasonable meaning for the name appears on the web as follows:

“This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is either from a locational or a topographical source. If from a locational source, it derives from Stainland in West Yorkshire, first recorded as a placename in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Stanland". The form "Staniland" is a common dialectal transposition of the "n" and "i" elements and parish records often show the two versions side by side. The name means "stonyland", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "stan", stony and "land", land and as such can also be a topographical surname, from residence at or by such a natural feature. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages..... The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nicholas Stanylande, which was dated November 30th 1561, marriage to Isabell Deye, at Ecclesfield, Yorkshire”

When searching the International Genealogical Index (, the majority of events in the 1600’s/1700’s for people named Staniland are recorded in the parishes of Yorkshire, so the locational source of the name sounds correct. My STANILAND ancestors must have moved southeastward from Yorkshire to Lincolnshire at some point prior to 1700 when my earliest traced ancestor Hugh STANILAND was living in the parish of West Burton, Nottingham.

1 comment:

Paula Jackson said...

I seem to be a descendant of Nicholas Stanylande - but need to put in a few more hours double checking. I live in Nottingham.