Spanswick One Name Study

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Spanswick Surname Distribution England, Scotland, and Wales in the 1881 Census  (Source : Surname Atlas - Archer Software)

The earliest physical evidence that I have found of the surname Spanswick are amongst the English villages close to the Wiltshire / Berkshire boarder. The very earliest of these are both from Tax Lists, 19th November 1523 (E179/259/15) includes Thomas Spaynswik of Alborn, and on 1st February 1524 (E179/197/161) John SpaynesheWik of Bishopstone.
In 1539 a Muster of men aged 15 to 60 years was complied, which fortunately survives for many North Wiltshire parishes*. Listed under "The Tything of Bysschoppyston" (Bishopstone North Wiltshire) there is a Wm. Spense Wyke one of eight men from the village, armed with a "Bill".
Six years later in 1545 a Thomas Spanysweke appears at the village of Albourne in Wiltshire in a list of Taxpayers for the Benevolence, and by the time of a later Wiltshire Subsidy of 1576* four Spanswick's, from different villages, are listed as tax payers : Henry Spaynesweke of Cleve Peper (Cliffe Pypard) ; John Spayneswick of Albourne ; Thomas Spayneswicke of Inglesham, and William Spainswick of Bishopstone.

While Thomas Cromwells mandate that every parish should have a book in which a record would be kept of every wedding,christening and burial in the parish from 5 September 1538, unfortunately none of parishes above have registers with entries copied up (as ordered in 1598) from this time. Cliffe Pypard (survives from 1576) and disappointingly has no mention of Spanswicks. Albourne (survives from 1637) similarly has no early mention of the surname. Fortunately in the case of the parish of Bishopstone, the parish register survives from 1573, and the Spanswick surname is almost the first entry in 1573, with the surname continuing another two hundred years, through to 1782. Inglesham (survives from 1589) but only one Spanswick marriage (in 1589) and one baptism from 1590 appear.

Other early appearances of the surname elsewhere in Wiltshire are at the villages of: Highworth 1577-1743 (registers commence 1539); Broad Blunsden 1675(BTs) - 1707 (registers survive from 1679) and at Chilton Foliat from 1675-1842 (registers from 1569).

Moving across into Berkshire : at Wantage 1582 - 1624 we have Paynswick, Spainsweck and Spainswick (registers from 1538) ; at Sparsholt 1588-1624 we have Spasweeke, Spanesweeke, Spenswick, and Spaswick (registers from 1558); at Coleshill we have Spaynesweeke and Spansweeke 1591-1611 (registers from 1559) ; the surname appears in will (1618) and a the same individual appears in a court case (1614) as Spangwick and Spenswick at Bray (registers only survive from 1652) and at Lambourn one early marriage in 1573, and then frequently as the surname gets established, from 1643 (registers survive from 1560).

My research so far has allowed me to link the Lambourn family back to Chilton Foliat and then to the the earlier Bishopstone entries, as do the family at Inglesham/Coleshill and possibly Broad Blunsden also links in this group. There is also a link to Aldbourn - but hampered with the loss of early registers and to date the lack of surviving manorial records to provide conclusive evidence

The lack of alternative sources means that the "families" at Cliffe Pypard, Wantage, Sparsholt and Bray also remain as isolated examples.

Before I leave my summary of early appearances of the Spanswick surname, it is worth mentioning firstly there are two references in North East Hampshire, both burials. The earliest is Willyam Spaniswicke a servant to John Hasell (or Hazel) who was buried at Odiham in 1558 and is almost certainly a rare stray. The second is the burial of John Spanwicke at Bentworth in 1604, Bentworth parish registers survive from 1603, so it possible there may be an early Spanswick link in this parish.

There is also one early reference in London, 1605, at the Tower of London, which may be linked to a family which used St.Botolph Aldgate 1630's and later Katherines by the Tower, in the 1640's - the forenames chosen

The Spanswick surname has always been rare. In the 1881 Census of England , Wales and Scotland, Spanswick and variants account for 302 individuals, the majority of whom still lived in Wiltshire and Berkshire, the darker the colour the greater the population density per 100,000 (see the distribution below)

Spanswick Surname Distribution England, Scotland, and Wales in the 1881 Census  (Source : Surname Atlas - Archer Software) Spanswick Surname Distribution Southern England in the 1881 Census(Source : Surname Atlas - Archer Software)

Taking the population in 1881 and projecting back in time taking into account population growth theoretically one hundred years before in 1781 there would have been about 84 individuals with the Spanswick surname. Back to 1681 we should expect 56 indivduals and in 1581 43 individuals. Finally projecting slightly further back to 1541 again based on an estimate for the average population growth we might expect 33 individuals to be alive with the Spanswick surname.

Hopefully more early sources can be unearthed in the Wiltshire, Berkshire and National Archives to support this. I certainly can see no reason to suppose the surname was not firmly established by 1545.

Given the relative rarity of the surname it hasn't featured in many of the standard publications for surname origins. The earliest (and briefest) mention is from "British Family Names Their Origins and Meaning" by the Rev. Henry Barber MD. FSA published in 1903. "SPANSWICK. A loc. n." (or a surname derived from a placename)

My "hunch", if I'm allowed to use such an unscientific term in Family History, is that origin of the surname, lies very close to those early Spanswick references. For near Bishopstone, just over the Berkshire boarder is located a Stainswick Farm, Copse and Lane. From the Diocesis Sarum Roberti Hallum (copy in of which can be found at the Society of Geneologists) is my earliest reference so far "31st May, 1408. Licence to Ralph de la Stane, domicellus, to have divine service celebrated in the oratory of his house of Stainswick."

Berkshire Victoria County History (Vol VI) for the parish of Ashbury provides the following background. "The manor of WICK alias ESTWICK alias NOTTESWICK alias STAINSWICK ... formed part of the fee of the Abbot of Glastonbury. About 1220 and abbot and convent granted to Andrew de Wike their manor of Ashbury which Ailric [de Wike] held, to hold as his father William de Wike held it, by annual rent of 60s. Andrew de Wike married Maud, daughter of Philip Hawtrey, and had with her 3 hides of land within the manor of Shrivenham. He left a daughter and heir Alice, who in 1271 married to Ralph de le Stane, who in 1293 granted his 'manor at Notiswyke' to his son Ralph de la Stane and Agnes his wife, with remainder, failing issue, to Andrew son of Gilbert. In 1335 Gilbert made a further settlement on his son Ralph and Ralph's second wife, Alice, daughter of Richard Cleet of Chipping Lambourn. Ralph succeeded his his father before 19 August 1346, and in 1347 settled the manor of 'La Wyke' on his wife Alice and their issue, with remainders successively to his brother William and to Alice and her heirs. In 1350 another settlement was made on Ralph and Alice, with remainders to Alice daughter of John Cleet, niece of Alice de la Stane, Parnell her sister, and the right heirs of the elder Alice. Ralph and Alice died without issue, whereupon Ralph son of William de la Stane entered on the manor on the ground of the settlement of 1347. An action was brought against him by Sir Richard Abberbury and Alice his wife, widow of Edmund Danvers and daughter of John Cleet, who claimed under the fine of 1350 and who obtained judgement against Ralph de la Stane, from whom they received a quitclaim of the manor of Stainswick in 1412. William Danvers, son of Alice, succeeded to the manor, and by his will of 1428 left it as dower to his wife Joan Danvers, with reversion to his right heirs. He died leaving no issue. In 1452 Joan Danvers enfeoffed William Wayneflete, Bishop of Winchester, and other of the manor with the intention that they should grant it to Winchester College; but the conditions of the grant not being fulfilled, it was instead given to Magdalen College, Oxford, and has since remained in its possession."

I believe the name surname Spanswick sometimes Spainswicke is likely to originate from a corruption of Staneswyke or Stainswick. The farm, copse, and lane, may be the only tanigible survivors of the Manor of Stainswick (in Bourton and Shrivenham). Individuals working on the Manor moving to nearby villages took the placename as a surname. If this hypothesis is correct given the place name is a combination of two names, Stane and Wike, I wouldn't expect to find examples of the surname prior to say 1400 (see note on poll tax records below). As yet I have been unable to trace any surviving Manorial records for the Manor of Stainswick (potentially they might be held by Magdelen College Archive). Whether the surname originates from one individual or a group of individuals might be proved by DNA Test of male Spanswick's from the different families associated with Lambourn, Easton Royal, Pewsey, etc.

* Source North Wiltshire Musters, Anno 30 Henry VIII,[ From the Original in The Chapter House Westminster], Published by Sir Thomas Phillipps (1834).

** Source Wiltshire Archeological and Natural History Society Volume 10 "Two Sixteenth Century Taxation Lists, 1545 and 1576" Edited by G.D. Ramsey (1954).

[Note : I have found no trace of the surname the three volume collection of "The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379, and 1381" by Carolyn C. Fenwick - a superb resource for the study of the origins of English surnames]