The Stanley Family Historical Review

excerpts from
The House of Stanley from the 12th Century
by Peter Stanley

The Normandy Heritage
The family of Stanley has played a prominent part in English history since the 12th century. Few families can show a longer record of public service or have exercised political power and influence over so many centuries. According to John Seacome, the author of History of the House of Stanley to 1774, the family's origins go back to the time when William, Duke of Normandy invaded England in 1066. He states that the Conqueror was attended by one, Adam de Aldithley, who was accompanied from Aldithley in Normandy' by his two sons, Lydulph and Adam. After the victory at the Battle of Hastings, the Duke rewarded his followers, including Adam de Aldithley, with grants of English lands.

Two of Adam de Aldithley's grandsons were said to have married Saxon heiresses. His elder son, Lydulph, had a son, Adam, to whom a Saxon thane gave his only daughter and heir, Mabella, in marriage, and it was thus that he acquired in his wife's right, the Manors of Stanleigh and Balterley in Staffordshire. The younger son of Adam de Aldithley, named Adam, had a son, William, to whom another Saxon thane gave his only daughter, Joan, and with her as a marriage portion, the Manor of Talk on the Hill in Staffordshire. Later, Adam, the son of Lydulph, exchanged his Manor of Stanleigh and half the Manor of Balterley, with his cousin, William (the son of his uncle, Adam), for the Manor of Talk on the Hill. William, then being possessed of the Manor of Stanleigh, adopted the surname 'de Stanleigh', and became the ancestor of the Stanleys, while his cousin, Adam de Aldithley, was the ancestor of the Audleys of Heleigh in Staffordshire.

In fact, however, Lydulph (or Liulf), styled 'de Aldithley', was born circa 1115 - some years after the Conquest. His younger brother Adam was born circa 1125.   The Manor of Aldithley (Audley) is not situated in Normandy, but is near Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire (as are the Manors of Balterley and Talk on the Hill). These three Manors did not come into the possession of the Audleys until early in the 12th century when they were held by socage, i.e. military service, from the De Verdun family. There is no evidence to support the story that these Manors were acquired through marriage to Saxon heiresses, and the Manor of Stanleigh did not come into the possession of the Audleys until late in the 12th century when it was the gift of their Overlord, Bertram de Verdun, before he left England for the Crusades in 1190.

The County of Staffordshire had been laid waste after the passage of the Norman Army that crushed the revolt of 1067-70, and in 1086 (at the time of the Great Survey) Staffordshire had attracted few Normans as it was then considered to be unprofitable land. In 1086, the Manors of Aldithley, Balterley and Talk on the Hill were held by a Saxon, Garnet, who was a King Thane (the title of one who held his land direct from the King, i.e., a Tenant-in-Chief). At the time of the Domesday Book, there were sixteen Saxon thanes holding land in Staffordshire, and Gamel (who held his land by military service, for life) was the most important of the group. He is shown as holding Aldithley, Balterley and Talk on the Hill which were then assessed as two virgates, half a virgate and one virgate respectively. They contained nine villeins, six borderers, three and a half ploughs, having a total value of seventeen shillings (a huge sum in those days).

Gamel holds Balterley - Ulvic held it;
Camel holds Aldithley - Ulvic and Godric held it, and they were free; Camel holds Talc (Talk on the Hill) - Godric held it, and he was a free man.

By the year 1124, the lands that were held from the King by Camel, the Saxon thane, had passed into the possession of the Norman family of De Verdun. At the time of the Norman Conquest, this family was represented in England by Bertram de Verdun, the son of Geoffrey, Count of Verdun. When William was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 25 December 1066, it was Bertram de Verdun who supported the King's right hand which held the sceptre, providing a glove for the purpose. He was an important baron, and appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as a tenant-in-chief, holding the ten hide Manor of Farnham in Buckinghamshire. His son, Norman de Verdun, is mentioned in 1124 as a tenant-in-chief, holding lands in Staffordshire, Leicestershire and Buckinghamshire. He was also Lord of Weobley in Shropshire. The De Aldithleys (Audleys) appeared to have acquired the freehold tenancies of the Manors of Aldithley, Balterley and Talk on the Hill, at about the same time as Norman de Verdun became tenant-in-chief of these estates. Sir William Dugdale (who was Garter King of Arms from 1677 to 1686) was of the opinion that the Audleys were a cadet branch of the De Verduns who subsequently adopted a surname derived from their new English estates. Lydulph (Liulf) de Aldithley was the first of his family to appear in official records as holding lands at Aldithley and Balterley, by socage, i.e. military service from Norman de Verdun (who appears in 1124, and again in the Pipe Rolls of 1130). In 1130-1132, this Lydulph had witnessed a Charter as 'Liulf fitz Liulf, thereby indicating that he was the son of an earlier Liulf. This earlier Liulf flourished in the reign of the Conqueror's youngest son, Henry I (1120-1133), and it is likely that he also held the tenancies of Aldithley and Balterley, as in 1130 he was required to pay an extremely heavy fine of  200 Marks, 10 Deerhounds and 10 Hawks, which he incurred for the murder, in 1129, of his neighbour, Gamel fitz Griffin, the Thane of Betley (which adjoins Aldithley and Balterley). This Liulf was obviously a man of some importance to have escaped with his life, and clearly a man of wealth to have been expected to pay such a fine. It seems likely that he was a Norman, and possibly related to the powerful De Verduns. In addition to his elder son Lydulph (or Liulf), this early Liulf had another son, Ralph fitz Liulf who occurs in 1130.

The De Aldithleys rendered Knights' service to the De Verduns throughout their early history, until 1231, when Nicholas de Verdun, the last male of his line, died.

The Manor of Stanleigh (Stanley) is situated about five miles from Leek in Staffordshire. At the time of the Great Survey in 1086, it was part of the larger Manor of Endor (which later became part of the De Verdun estates). It did not come into the possession of the De Aldithley family until late in the 12th century, when it was gift to Adam de Aldithley from his Overlord, Bertram de Verdun before the latter left with Richard 1 for the Crusades in 1190.

Both Aldithley and Stanleigh were Saxon place names - the former meaning a meadow belonging to And (a Saxon female name), and the latter meaning a meadow or clearing which was craggy or stony. Because of this, Sir Anthony Wagner, Garter King of Arms, suggested in his book English Ancestry, that the Audleys and Stanleys were probably of Saxon stock. Mr L. G. Pine, former editor of Burke's Peerage, held a similar view. Surnames, however, first appeared in Europe in the 11th century and were not introduced into England until the arrival of the Normans. They were still rare at the time of the Conquest and only the more important barons possessed them at the time of the Great Survey in 1086. These surnames were generally derived from their estates in Normandy. It was not until the 12th century that the minor barons and knights adopted surnames and it is therefore unlikely that the early Aldithleys or Stanleys possessed a surname during their actual lifetime. These were probably added later by their descendants as a means of identification of an ancestor.

Many of the principal leaders of Duke William's expedition to England returned to their estates in Europe after the victory at Hastings as they were greater personages in their own country. In accordance with Norman practice, when a baron died, his lands in Normandy (i.e. the lands of inheritance) would pass to the eldest son, while his English lands (i.e. the lands of conquest) would pass to younger sons. (It was Duke William's eldest son, Robert who succeeded him as Duke of Normandy, while his second son, William Rufus, succeeded in England.) If a man left an heiress and no sons, his daughter (or her husband) inherited his estate in preference to her late father's brother, or more remote male heirs. This meant that the junior male line of a family had to make its own way in the world! Thus it was generally the minor barons and younger sons that elected to remain in England; and many of these adopted surnames were derived from their new English estates.

Lydulf (Liulf) de Aldithley, and his younger brother, Adam, were both thanes (the early equivalent of knights) who held the freehold tenancies of their estates from the De Verdun family, by socage, i.e. military service. As such they were required to fight to defend their Overlord and his property. Lydulph had at least three sons, Adam (the eldest), Liulf and Roger. Adam, the heir, succeeded to his father's estate and appears to have been the first member of the family to use the surname 'de Aldithley' in official documents, when in 1155, and again in 1160, he witnessed Charters of his Overlord, Bertram de Verdun (the son of Norman de Verdun). His brothers, Liulf and Roger, still continued to style themselves as 'Liulf fitz Liulf and 'Roger fitz Liulf respectively when they witnessed Charters in 1160 and 1202.

Adam de Aldithley played a prominent part in the retinue of Bertram de Verdun and acted as his Deputy when Bertram was Sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire from 1168 to 1183. He succeeded Bertram as Sheriff of these two counties in 1184 and 1185, and acted as his Deputy in Cheshire in 1186. In 1190 Bertram de Verdun accompanied King Richard I to the Crusades in the Holy Land. Before leaving England, he granted to Adam de Aldithley the additional Manor of Stanleigh in Staffordshire, as a mark of his special favour. Bertram did not return to England, dying in Juppa in 1192. He was succeeded to his estates in England by his son, Nicholas de Verdun. Some time later, Adam de Aldithley took the opportunity to rearrange his estates by exchanging his new Manor of Stanleigh, and half of the Manor of Balterley, with his cousin William, the son of his uncle, Adam (later styled 'de Stanleigh') for William's Manor of Talk on the Hill (which adjoined Aldithley). His cousin, William, being possessed of the Manor of Stanleigh then adopted the surname of 'de Stanleigh', being the first member of the family appearing in records using a surname when he witnessed a Charter in 1203, and again in 1217 and 1223 as 'William de Stanle'. Thus William was the first Ancestor of the Stanley family.

Early Distinquished Soldiers

In 1230, William de Stanleigh, together with his Kinsman, Henry de Aldithley (the son of Adam de Aldithley), accompanied their Overlord, Nicholas de Verdun when he attended Henry III in his invasion of Brittany. Thereafter, many of William's descendants distinguished themselves as soldiers, playing a prominent part in the various French, Irish and Scottish Wars. His great grandson, Thomas de Stanleigh of Stourton in the Wirral of Cheshire, was present at the victory over the Scots at Halidon Hill in 1333 (the first battle in which the longbow was used). He was later slain during the French Wars in 1346. His elder brother, John de Stanleigh died in the same year from wounds received in the Battle of Crecy (1346).  His grandson,  Sir John Stanley of Lathom, Lancashire fought in France and Ireland and was famed for his skill in single combat, and in tournaments. For his services to Henry IV at the Battle of Shrewsbury, he was granted the Kingdom of the Isle of Man in 1405 (the island was ruled by the family for 331 years - until the death of the 10th Earl of Derby in 1736). Sir John was the first member of the family to be appointed a Knight of the Garter. His son and his nephew were present at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415; the "nephew, Sir William Stanley of Hooton was knighted on the field of battle for his valour. Much of the family's rise to power and influence can be attributed to their military reputation which led to successive Kings seeking their support and endeavouring to retain the family's loyalty by granting them generous gifts of honours and lands. Sir Thomas Stanley, and Baron, was also known for his military ability and skill in tournaments. During the Wars of the Roses, he was a reluctant participant throughout the conflict. While his family had traditionally supported the House of Lancaster, he had married the daughter of one of the leading Yorkists and he had no desire to fight against his wife's family. At Court, he appeared with both red and white roses entwined in his helmet, endeavouring to make it clear that he neither supported nor opposed either side, but the Lancastrian Queen Margaret would not tolerate his desire for neutrality, and issued a royal command for him to join her army. Unable to refuse, he fought only when he could not avoid it, standing aside when he could until battles had been won or lost. Three times the family transferred their allegiance to a new dynasty, abandoning the weak and incompetent Richard II, and the feebleminded Henry VI (who, following a mental breakdown, was at times an imbecile and unfit to rule). The Stanleys managed to steer a successful course during those troubled times, always ending up with the winning side - possibly because they commanded powerful forces. When the Yorkists eventually won and Edward IV succeeded to the throne, Lord Stanley supported him loyally, and served him in the wars with France and Scotland. However, he regarded Richard III as an usurper, and suspected him of the murder of his nephews, the two young princes in the Tower of London. At the first opportunity, he deserted him, and supported Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, for which service, the new King Henry VII created him Earl of Derby. Both the Earl's sons were prominent soldiers: George Stanley fought in the Battle of Stoke in 1487, and Edward Stanley was created 1st Baron Monteagle for his bravery against the Scots at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513.

The Reformation Period

The Reformation brought the family many problems. When Henry VIII broke with Rome and declared himself'Supreme Head of the Church in England', his quarrel with the Pope was over the question of his divorce and not with religious doctrine. He made no changes in the Church's beliefs, or in the structure of the Mass, and he continued to regard himself as an orthodox Catholic for the rest of his life. Most of his subjects regarded the dispute as political and the break with Rome as temporary, and when it came to taking the required Oath of Supremacy, few were prepared to risk the royal anger and to accept martyrdom for conscience sake when it appeared they could temporize until the quarrel was resolved. The 3rd Earl of Derby, along with his fellow peers and the majority of bishops and abbots therefore took the Oath to confirm their acceptance of the Act, albeit with some misgivings. The Earl for the rest of his life never entirely escaped from a conflict of loyalties between the duty that he felt he owed to his Sovereign, and his desire to see England once again acknowledge the spiritual authority of Rome. The Stanleys generally followed the Earl of Derby's lead and continued to adhere to the old religion.

Under Henry VIII, Life went on much as before, but when the old King died in 1547, the situation changed. Edward IV was only nine years old when he succeeded to the throne and for the period of his minority the Council appointed Edward Seymour as Lord Protector of the Realm. The Protector did not share the late King's religious beliefs, being one of the new breed of reformers who hated Catholicism and was determined to destroy it and establish the Reformed Religion in its place. He lost no time introducing the Act of Uniformity in 1548, which suppressed the Mass; enforced the use of a new prayer book; legalized a married clergy; and made attendance at the new form of service in the parish church obligatory, subject to the imposition of heavy fines. The 3rd Earl of Derby did not agree with these new 'reforms', and furthermore he did not hold the Protector in the same respect as the late King. He was one of the few peers to vote against the Act. He spoke his mind freely during the Protectorate, and showed little enthusiasm when he was appointed one of the Commissioners of Reformation in 1548, taking little action to enforce the new laws within the counties of Lancashire and Cheshire. It was mainly due to the Earl that Catholicism survived in north-west England, whereas elsewhere the people had little option but to conform. The 3rd Earl's eldest son (afterwards the 4th Earl) had been brought up at Court at Henry VIll's orders as the companion and playmate of the young Prince, and both boys were indoctrinated into Protestantism by the Protector. The 3rd Earl's other two sons remained Catholic, and were imprisoned in the Tower of London during Queen Elizabeth's reign, for being suspected of being involved in a plot to rescue Mary, Queen of Scots from Tutbury Castle and to take her to the Isle of Man. When the 3rd Earl died in 1672, life became more difficult for the Lancashire Catholics, and many of the Stanley family suffered fines and imprisonment. Some went into exile for their beliefs and one led a regiment of Catholic exiles on the Continent, in which Guy Fawkes served until he was recruited by the Gunpowder Plot conspirators. In 1580, when Queen Elizabeth made it high treason, and punishable by death, for a Catholic priest to enter the Realm, seven members of the family went abroad to train as priests, returning to England as missionary priests after ordination (four as Jesuits and three as secular priests) to administer to their fellow Catholics. Fortunately for them, none were caught by the authorities, but the family had close links with four martyrs (three of whom were later canonized as Saints by the Pope). New laws against Catholics were introduced in 1591 and 1593, which made life even harder. When a Catholic landowner died, his heir could not inherit the whole estate unless he conformed to the Established Church. If he did so, then the estate would be his in its entirety, otherwise it would be divided up among all the family, the greater share going to those who accepted the new religion. By the beginning of the 17th century, most had conformed outwardly at least, but there remained some exceptions. The Stanleys of Hooton, Cheshire; the Stanleys of Moor Hall, near Aughton, Lancashire; the Stanleys of Great Eccleston in the Fylde, Lancashire, still adhered to the Catholic faith, while the Stanleys of Bickerstaffe (the ancestors of the present Earl of Derby) conformed about 1598.

The Real William Shakespere

The 5th Earl was a noted patron of the Arts, and a friend of poets and playwrights. Before succeeding to the Earldom, he was the proprietor of a famous company of actors, known as 'Lord Strange's Players'. His younger brother, William Stanley, who later succeeded as 6th Earl of Derby was also engaged in the drama, and it is recorded that he spent much of his time secretly writing plays for his brother's group of actors to perform. William had been educated at St John's College, Oxford before going to Gray's Inn, where he studied law. He then traveled abroad for several years, staying at the French King's Court in Paris, and going on to Spain, Italy, the Mediterranean, Greece and Egypt, before returning to England via Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. He got back to his family residence at Lathom in 1587, the same year that his brother's group of actors were joined by a young man, William Shakespere who came from Stratford on Avon, where he had attended the local free school from the age of eight until the age of thirteen. He then joined his father's trade of glover and butcher until 1587, when he decided to become an actor and joined Lord Strange's Players. It is said that he wrote his name with apparent difficulty, and that his parents and daughter were illiterate, making a mark instead of writing their names. It is hard to explain how he came to acquire a knowledge of Italy, France and other countries, or a profound knowledge of Latin, Creek, the Law, History and English such as the writer William Shakespeare revealed in his plays. Many scholars believe that William Stanley was the concealed author. He had all the background and qualifications necessary to acquire the knowledge needed by the writer of Shakespeare's works which the actor William Shakespere certainly did not possess. Because Tudor nobility frowned on one of their number publishing poetry or plays under their own name, it was the custom for gentlemen to employ an agent in whose name their work was ostensibly written. It is known that William Stanley wrote plays in secret for his brother's group of actors. On meeting William Shakespere, the actor, for the first time and noting that he had the same initials and Christian name may well have given William Stanley the idea of engaging the actor as his agent for the purpose of introducing his plays on the common stage. The actor's name, rewritten as 'Shakespeare', made an excellent 'nom-deplume'. Shakespeare, the writer, failed to publish anything in print after 1594, which was the year in which the 5th Earl died, and his brother, William Stanley succeeded as 6th Earl of Derby. His position, particularly as by nature of his descent from Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VII, he was in line for the Throne, would then have made it difficult for him to continue with his writing.

The Royalists and Non-Conformists

The English Civil War brought great divisions, and eventually disaster, to the Stanley family. Generally, the Anglican and Roman Catholic branches were Royalists, while the Non-Conformists tended to support Parliament. The 7th Earl of Derby loyally supported both Charles I and Charles II from the first Battle of Edge Hill in 1642, to the last battle of the war at Worcester in 1651.  This cost him his life and much of the family's estates. The Stanleys of Moor Hall; the Stanleys of Broughton, near Salford; the Stanleys of Great Eccleston; and the Stanleys of Ponsonby Hall and Dalegarth in Cumberland, were all Royalists. The Stanleys of Bickerstaffe were mainly Parliamentarians, as were the Stanleys of Alderley and several minor branches in the Midlands. Until the Civil War, the greater part of Lancashire, Cheshire and North Wales owed allegiance to the Earls of Derby, together with the Isle of Man. These lands were seized by order of the Roundhead Parliament (except for the Isle of Man, which held out when all England had fallen to Parliament - until Charles II's defeat at the Battle of Worcester, and the execution of the 7th Earl of Derby. It then surrendered). The other Royalist branches of the family also had their estates sequestrated. At the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, it was thought that these sequestrated estates would be returned to the original owners, but many were not returned in full (including much of the property owned by the Earls of Derby) because the King did not wish to upset those subjects who had purchased these lands in good faith during the reign of the Commonwealth. This treatment was resented by the Cavaliers and their families, and is reflected by the bitter inscription that the 10th Earl had carved on the south front of Knowsley Hall, the family's principal residence in Lancashire. The 12th Earl was noted as a patron of horse racing, and the founder of the 'Derby' race at Epsom in 1780.  The previous year, 1779, he had founded a race for fillies and named it the 'Oaks', after his estates at Woodmansterne in Surrey. His son, the 13th Earl was a keen zoologist, who when the London Zoological Society was formed in 1828, established the Society's collection of birds and animals in Regent's Park, and was elected the Society's President in 1834· The Stanley's continued to maintain their reputation as soldiers, serving in the Duke of Marlborough's campaigns during the War of the Spanish Succession and the Napoleonic Wars. They were present at the Battle of Sebastopol and Inkerman (1854) during the Crimean War and at the relief of Khartoum in 1885, during the Egyptian Wars. They were active during the South African War (1899-1901), and in the First World War (1914--1918) they served both in Flanders and Gallipoli. During the Second World War (1939-1945), they fought in all theatres of war, including the Anzio Beachhead. In both World Wars, several members of the family received awards for their bravery.

Distinguished Statesmen
As statesmen, members of the family served in many Parliaments and belonged to several Cabinets. The 14th Earl of Derby was one of Queen Victoria's great Prime Ministers, holding that office on three occasions. He supported the Catholic Emancipation Bill, and introduced the Bill for the abolition of slavery. He was ahead of his time in many ways - long before a welfare state was thought of, he provided free medical attention for all his estate workers and their families and introduced an insurance scheme financed jointly by his employees and himself, to give every member of his workforce sufficient security in sickness and old age.

His son, the 15th Earl was also a noted politician who was respected throughout Europe, so much so that he was offered the Greek Crown. He turned it down, preferring to remain the Earl of Derby.

The family can claim direct descent from the Emperor Charlemagne through the wife of Thomas, 1st Baron Stanley, and through the wife of George Stanley, Baron Strange, the eldest son of the 1st Earl of Derby. They also have links with the Royal Houses of Lancaster, Plantagenet, Tudor and Stuart, and with most of England's ancient families.

They possess the second oldest Earldom, that of Derby which was created on 27 October 1485, after the Battle of Bosworth Field, which ended the Wars of the Roses. The title is derived from the Hundred of West Derby in Lancashire, and is one of three 'Catskin' Earldoms, the others being Shrewsbury and Huntingdon. They are the oldest Earldoms, whose forebears were entitled to wear four rows of ermine on their robes (i.e. 'quatre-skins'), as do Dukes at the present time. The Stanleys also held a number of ancient Baronies which could pass through the female line when the holder died and there were no direct male heirs. Thus the daughter (or her husband) inherited in preference to her father's brothers or more remote male heirs. The Baronies of Stanley and Strange (and the related Baronies of Mohun, Bassett and Lacy) all passed out of the family in this way, falling into abeyance among the daughters of the 5th Earl. Similarly, the new Barony of Strange and the Lordship of the Isle of Man devolved upon the issue of the 10th Earl's aunt, Amelia Stanley (the daughter of the 7th Earl) when the 10th Earl died in 1736· She had married the Marquess of Athel, whose family thereby obtained the Isle of Man and later sold it to the British Government. The Stanleys still hold the following titles: Baron Stanley of Bickerstaffe (1832); Baron Stanley of Alderley (1839); Baron Eddisbury of Winnington (1848); and Baron Stanley of Preston (1886), all in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. Also the title of Baron Sheffield of Roscommon (1781) in the Peerage of Ireland. The family hold two Baronetcies - Bickerstaffe (1628) and Alderley (1660).

Fifteen Members have been awarded the Order of the Garter, the highest Order of Chivalry, viz.:

Sir John Stanley of Lathom KG (1340--1414)
Sir Thomas Stanley KG (1405--1459)
Thomas Stanley, 2nd Baron, 1st Earl of Derby KG (1435--1504)
Sir William Stanley of Holt KG (1437-1495)
Sir George Stanley, Lord Strange KG (1460-1503)
Sir Edward Stanley, 1st Lord Monteagle KG (1462-1524)
Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby KG (1509--1572)
Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derby KG (1531--1593)
William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby KG (1561--1642)
James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby KG (1609--1651)
Edward Smith Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby KG (1775-1837)
Edward Geoffrey Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby KG (1799-1869)
Edward Henry Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby KG (1826--1893)
Frederick Arthur Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby KG (1841-1908)
Edward George Villiers Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby KG (1865-1948)

No family other than the FitzAllen Howards, Dukes of Norfolk and Hereditary Earl Marshals of England (who have twenty-four Garters) can approach this figure. (The Percys, Dukes of Northumberland, have sixteen Garters, but the original male line of this family died out in the 17th century. Those Percys who have been created Knights of the Garter since then are the descendants of the 6th Duke of Somerset, who married the last Percy heiress in 1682, and who subsequently adopted the Percy surname when they were created Dukes of Northumberland. )

In their early history, the Stanleys were closely associated with the De Verduns and the Audleys. The Arms of all these families were similar. The De Verdun Arms were 'Or, on a fret, Gules'; the Audleys were 'Gules on a fret, Or'; and the Stanleys were the same as the Audleys but with a label for difference, until 1316, when Sir William Stanley assumed the Arms of Hereditary Forester of the Wirral Forest, viz.:'Or on a bend azure, three Stags Heads cabossed, Or'. (These Arms are used by Sir William's descendants today.) The use of similar Arms does not necessarily imply that these families had a blood relationship, as it was common in the 13th century for families to adopt similar Arms to those of their feudal Overlords, thus making identification easier in battle. A blood relationship certainly existed between the Audleys and the Stanleys, i.e. Adam, the father of William de Stanleigh, was the uncle of Adam de Aldithley, being the younger brother of Lydulph de Aldithley (Adam de Aldithley's father); and a relationship by marriage existed between the Audleys and the De Verduns. In 1175, Adam de Aldithley had married Emma, the daughter of Robert Fitz Orm of Darleston, Staffs. Her elder sister, Alma, married Engenulph de Gresley, and their daughter, Hawisa de Gresley, married Henry, one of the sons of Bertram de Verdun in 1199. Consequently, Adam de Aldithley was Henry de Verdun's uncle by marriage.

 Sir William Dugdale, Garter King of Arms from 1677 to 1686, believed that the De Aldithleys were probably a cadet branch of the De Verduns, who had subsequently adopted a surname derived from the new English estates. While this remains a matter of conjecture, the fact remains that the families were bound together by both feudal and territorial interests, and it seems appropriate that the opening chapters of this history of the Stanleys should begin with an account of their kinsmen, the Audleys, and of their mutual Overlords, and possible relatives, the De Verduns, to whom they were required to render knights' service.

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