The Name and Family of Stanford

by Grace N. Paris, Aurora, Illinois, 1952

The name of Stanford is believed to be of ancient Saxon origin and to have been derived from the words stan, meaning "stone", and ford, meaning "a river-crossing".  It was undoubtedly first given to a place answering that description (there were ten parishes of the name in England) and was taken therefrom by its first bearer because of his residence there at the time of the adoption of surnames in Great Britain.  It is found in ancient records in the various spellings of Staniford, Staniforth, Stanforth, Stamforth, Standiford, Stanniford, Staynfor, Stanforde, Standford and Stanford, of which the form last mentioned is that most generally used in America today.

Families of this name were resident at early dates in the counties of York, Stafford, Oxford, Huntington, Warwick, Leicester, Somerset and London.  They were, for the most part, of the landed gentry and yeomanry of England.

Among the early records of the family in England are those of Adam de Stanford, of Oxford County in 1273; Symon de Stanford of Hunts about the same time; Florentia de Stanford of Somersetshire in the time of King Edward the Third of England; Henricus and Johannes de Staynford of Yorkshire in 1379; Thomas Stanford of Leicestershire about the beginning of the fifteenth century (who was the father of, among others, Thomas, who was the grandfather of John, who had a son named John, who was the father of Thomas Stanford, who was living in the year 1619); Thomas Stanniford of Oxford County in 1622; and Thomas Standford of London in the early seventeenth century, who was the father of a son named George.

While it is not definitely known from which of the several lines of the family in England the first emigrants of the name to America traced their descent, it appears from old records that the Stanfords were well represented among the earliest British settlers in the New World.

Probably the first of the name in America were Richard and John Stanford of Virginia in 1635 or shortly thereafter.  Of these, the second is believed by some family historians to have either settled in Maryland or to have had a son of the same name who settled there.  It is probable that this John was related to Thomas, Joseph, Charles, Samuel and William Stanford, all of whom were living in the county of Dorchester, Maryland, in the latter part of the seventeenth century.  John was the father by his wife Elizabeth of John, William, Elizabeth and Margaret.

Among the early immigrants was Thomas Stanford of Concord, MA, in the year 1644.  He is believed to have moved to Maine about 1652 and may have been related to the Robert Stanford, who was at Falmouth Neck, ME at that time.  Of these, Robert was probably, the father of the Robert Stanford who was living at Marshfield, CT in 1680.  This last Robert was married in that year to the widow Mary Williamson, by whom he had, among others a son named Robert.

Another Thomas Stanford was living at Charlestown, MA, as early as 1680 and it is thought probable that he was the son of the last-mentioned Thomas, but this is not certain.  Thomas, of Charlestown married the widow Sarah (nee Couch) Jones and had issue by her, David, Richard, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Samuel and Martha.

Of these children, the eldest son David was married in 1712 to Lydia Morse, by whom he had, among others, a son named Caleb, who settled in New Hampshire.

John Stanford made his home at Ipswich, MA, sometime before 1680, in which year he was married to Margaret Harris.   It is thought highly probable that he left issue but no definite records of his family has ever been found.

Still another Thomas Stanford emigrated to America about 1684 and settled in Maryland.  No records, however, of his immediate family or descendants is in evidence.

The descendants of these various branches of the family in America have removed to many sections of the country and have made a worthy contribution to the furtherance of American civilization.  An active, strong-minded, and resourceful race, generous, kindly and sociable, the Stanfords have rendered humanitarian service to their fellow men in various fields of endeavor.

Among those of the name who fought in the War of the Revolution were Corporal Abner, Ebenezer, James, Jeremiah, John, Joseph, Joshua, Josiah, Josiah, JR., Moses, Oliver, Richard, Robert, Robert, JR, Thomas, and William Stanford of MA; James and Joseph Stanford, of NH; Daniel Stanford of CT; William Stanford of VA; John Stanford of NY; Abraham, Benjamin, Henry, Jacob and Robert Stanford of PA; and many more from the various other states of that period.

Thomas, John, William Robert, Richard, Samuel, David and Charles are some of the Christian names most favored by the family for its male progeny.

A few of the members of the family who have attained distinction in various parts of the world in more recent times are the following:

Leland Stanford (1824-1893), of New York, capitalist and philanthropist.

Jane Lathrop Stanford (1825-1905), of New York, philanthropist.

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) of Dublin and London, English composer.

Alfred Boller Stanford (1852-1924) of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, author.

Edward Valentine Stanford (b.1897), of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, Roman Catholic priest, educator and college president.

Ernest Elwood Stanford (b. 1888) of Massachusetts and California, botanist and author.

Raymond Chandler Stanford (b. 1893) of Texas, lawyer.

One of the most ancient and probably the best known of the coat of arms of the Stanford family, which is sometimes found with slight variations in detail and coloring, is described as follows (Burke, General Armory, 1884): Arms. "Argent, three bars azure on a canton or, a fees, in chief three mascles sable."

Bibliography: Bardsley, English and Welsh Surnames, 1901; Savage, Genealogical Dictionary of New England, 1860; Stanford, Stanford Genealogy, 1906; Crapo, Some Comeoverers, 1912; The Americana, 1934; Burke, General Armory, 1884; Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, 1906; Connecticut Men in the Revolution, 1889; Virginia Revolutionary Soldier, 1912; New York in the Revolution, 1887; and Pennsylvania Muster Roll, 1907.

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