Stratford family

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The Historic Stratford Coat of Arms Barruly of ten Argent and Azure, a Lion Rampant Gules.[1]
Three Variations on the Stratford Crest Scimitar armoured, scimitar unarmoured, falchion armoured.

The Stratfords are an old gentry family of England, either giving their name to, or taking it from, Stratford-on-Avon in the 12th century and traceable back to the Norman conquest. Since their establishment the Stratfords have spawned numerous religious, cultural and political leaders, multiple Bishops, Arch-Bishops, Viscountcies, Baronies and an Earldom.[2] Historic family seats have included Farmcote Manor and Stratford Park in Gloucester,[3] Merevale Hall in Warwickshire,[4] Baltinglass Castle,[5] Belan House and Aldborough House in Ireland, and Stratford House in London.[6] They have links with numerous noble families, including the Tracys, Sudeleys, Dugdale baronets, Throgmortons, Overburys,[7] and Wingfields.[5] They were at their most powerful in the 14th and 18th centuries.

The Norman Conquest and Earlier[edit]

The Stratfords can trace early maternal lines into the De Monthault family (and through them to the Anglo-Saxon Earls of Mercia and Lady Godiva) and the Ceeley family (the head of their pedigree being the Norman Sire Ce Gaulle, who came over with William the Conqueror in 1066).[7] An unreliable pedigree belonging to Edward Stratford, 2nd Earl of Aldborough traces the family to an ancient Edvardus Stratford, progenitor of an "illustrious Saxon family",[8] whilst more recent genealogists have found origins with the Norman Sir Gualla de Lupella, who came to England with William the Conqueror (and who counted Amiens in Normandy amongst his territory, hence the title of "Viscount Amiens" awarded to John Stratford, 1st Earl of Aldborough on 28 January 1777).[9][10][11]

The Warwickshire Stratfords (13th-14th Century)[edit]

Robert de Stratford, an original burgess of Stratford-on-Avon, is the earliest indisputably traceable member of the paternal Stratford line. His children and nephews rose to positions of power and influence in the political and religious landscape of England in the 14th century, and originated all other branches of the family.[12][13]

The Stratfords of Merevale (17th-18th Century)[edit]

Merevale Hall, Warwickshire now seat of the Dugdale Baronets.

The Manor of Merevale in north Warwickshire (including the original Merevale Hall and estate) was purchased in the mid 17th century by Edward Stratford (died 1665). [5] Having established himself, Edward settled the sum of £500 on his younger brother Robert in order to fund his starting a life in Ireland.[7] Robert settled at Baltinglass Castle and went on to sire the Earls of Aldborough, and a close relationship between the Merevale and the Irish branch was maintained until the extinction.[14]

In 1749 the property was inherited by Penelope Bate Stratford (the daughter and co-heiress of Francis Stratford of Merevale) who married into the (now) Dugdale baronets, who still possess the estate.[5]

The Stratford Dugdales & Dugdale Baronets[edit]

In 1749 Merevale Hall was inherited by Edward's eventual descendant Penelope Bate Stratford (the daughter and co-heiress of Francis Stratford of Merevale) who married William Geast. William Geast took the surname of his Uncle, John Dugdale, and their child was Dugdale Stratford Dugdale who married the honourable Charlotte Curzon, daughter of Assheton Curzon, 1st Viscount Curzon of the (now) Earls Howe.[15] Their son William Stratford Dugdale had a son also named William Stratford Dugdale who had a son named William Francis Stratford Dugdale, who came to be the 1st Baronet.[16] The Merevale estate has descended through to his son and the present incumbent Sir William Stratford Dugdale of the Dugdale baronets.[5]

  • Sir William Francis Stratford Dugdale, 1st Baronet (1872-1965)
  • Sir William Stratford Dugdale, 2nd Baronet (born 1922)
  • The heir apparent to the Baronetcy is William Matthew Stratford Dugdale, born 22 Feb 1959; the only male issue of the 2nd Baronet's first marriage
  • Thomas Joshua Stratford Dugdale FRSA (born 1974), British documentary film-maker, male isse of the 2nd Baronet's second marriage

The Gloucestershire Stratfords[edit]

Great Farmcote Manor The feudal manor house of the Farmcote Estate, historically the seat of the Gloucestershire Stratfords

It was Thomas de Stratford of the original Warwickshire Stratfords who first moved the family's interests to Gloucestershire, holding the post of Archdeacon of Gloucester. Stephen de Stratford, Kinsman to Thomas and John, was the father of another John Stratford who, in 1320, became a member of parliament for Gloucestershire, where the Stratfords had been granted Lordship of the Manor of Farmcote, Hawling and Temple Guiting in 1314. His son was raised to the knighthood as Sir Stephen Stratford,[17] and this branch of the family became resident at the ancient, feudal Farmcote Manor House following the dissolution of Hailes Abbey in 1539. This branch were cousins to Robert Dover, and involved in the establishment of the Cotswold Olimpick Games in 1612.[5]

The Farmcote and Hawling estates were sold in 1756, by sons of Walter Stratford, though part of Farmcote Manor still stands, and Stratford tombs, arms and effigies can be found in the estate chapel there.[5]

Notable members of this line include:

  • John Stratford, member of parliament for Gloucestershire, 1320
  • Sir Stephen Stratford, knight of the realm
  • John Stratford (c.1582-c.1634) Merchant and entrepreneur, a significant grower of tobacco in the Cotswolds

The Wessex Stratfords[edit]

The Stratford's interests in Wessex stem from 1323, when John de Stratford took the position of Bishop of Winchester (bringing with him his brother Robert as part of his familia and eventually installing him as Bishop of Chichester). Their Kinsman Andrew de Stratford, a senior clerk, soon amassed a great deal of property in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight,[18] eventually leaving church service and taking a wife (Christine). His estate passed through to relatives in the area, and the Wessex branch of the Stratford family (based mainly in Hampshire, with strands in the Isle of Wight and Berkshire) continued into modernity as yeomen, blacksmiths and rural landowners.[19]

Notable members of this line include:

The Irish Stratfords & Earls of Aldborough (18th-19th Century)[edit]

Aldborough House, Dublin Built by Edward Augustus Stratford (1736-1801), 2nd Earl of Aldborough between 1792 and 1798
The coat of arms for the Earls of Aldborough with Supporters, the Female representing Fame, the male representing War - Virtuti Nihil Obstat Et Armis (Nothing Resists Valour and Arms).

A later branch of the family extended from the Stratfords of Merevale and into Ireland, where they went on to enter the peerage as Earls of Aldborough, of the Palatinate of Upper Ormond. The title was created on 9 February 1777, along with the subsidiary title Viscount Amiens, for John Stratford, 1st Viscount Aldborough.[23] He had already been created Baron Baltinglass, of Baltinglass, in the County of Wicklow,[24] on 21 May 1763, and Viscount Aldborough, of the Palatinate of Upper Ormond,[25] on 22 July 1776. These titles were also in the Peerage of Ireland. Three of his sons, the second, third and fourth Earls, all succeeded in the titles. They became extinct on the death of the latter's grandson, the sixth Earl, in 1875. Their seats were Belan House, Aldborough House, Baltinglass Castle and Stratford House.

The Stratford Cannings & Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe[edit]

Abigail Stratford was the daughter of Robert Stratford, progenitor of the Irish Stratfords. In 1697 she married George Canning,[29] and in 1703 they had a son, named Stratford Canning. He had a son sometime after 1734, also named Stratford Canning, who had a son in 1786, also named Stratford Canning, who was created 1st Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe on 24 April 1852.[30]

The Wingfield-Stratfords, Viscount Powerscourt, & Baron Wrottesley[edit]

Lady Amelia Stratford was the daughter of John Stratford, 1st Earl of Aldborough. On the 7th September 1760 she married Richard Wingfield, 3rd Viscount Powerscourt, and took his name; it is from this maternal Stratford lineage that the current Viscount Powerscourt descends.[31]

The Stratford descendant Viscounts Powerscourt are as follows:

  • Richard Wingfield, 4th Viscount Powerscourt (1762–1809)
  • Richard Wingfield, 5th Viscount Powerscourt (1790–1823)
  • Richard Wingfield, 6th Viscount Powerscourt (1815–1844)
  • Mervyn Wingfield, 7th Viscount Powerscourt (1836–1904)
  • Mervyn Richard Wingfield, 8th Viscount Powerscourt (1880–1947)
  • Mervyn Patrick Wingfield, 9th Viscount Powerscourt (1905–1973)
  • Mervyn Niall Wingfield, 10th Viscount Powerscourt (born 1935)
  • The heir apparent is the present holder's only son Hon. Mervyn Anthony Wingfield (born 1963).

When Edward Stratford, 2nd Earl of Aldborough (Amelia's brother) died in 1801 he bequeathed the bulk of his estate to Amelia's grandson (his nephew, too junior to inherit the Powerscourt Viscountcy) on the proviso that he took back the Stratford name, thus becoming John Wingfield-Stratford in 1802.[5] This line inherited Stratford House in London, and Amelia lived there until her death in 1831. It was sold in 1832.[6]

Notable Wingfield-Stratfords include:

Esmé Cecil's daughter (Roshnara) married Richard John Wrottesley, 5th Baron Wrottesley, and though they later divorced it was through issue of their marriage that the Barony descended:

Stratford Coat of Arms[edit]

The Stratford Coat of Arms was recorded by the Heralds Visitations to Gloucester of 1543, and since has been consistently based around a lion rampant, gules, on a barruly of ten, Argent and Azure. Variations have included the addition of a crescent to denote a younger son, a change in the barruly number, change in langue colour, and most significantly in the Wessex Stratfords, where a rose to denote Hampshire has been added, and there seems to have been used a lion rampant guardant gules, tired with stags antlers gules.[33]

The Stratford Crest is invariably a dexter arm embowed, grasping a sword (usually curved - a scimitar or falchion). Variations include colouring, armour and sword type.

The Earls of Aldborough took supporters of human figures, a winged woman and armoured man, representing Fame and War. Officially: Dexter a Female figure, representing Fame, vested Ar, winged Or, in her right hand a trumpet gold, and in her left hand an olive branch vert, the sword belt Gules. Sinister, a man in complete armour Proper, garnished Or, spurs, sword, shield and spear of the last, sword belt Gules, holding in his right hand the spear, and upon his left arm the shield.

They also adopted the motto "Virtuti Nihil Obstat Et Armis" (Nothing Resists Valour and Arms).[34]

A certain mystery surrounds the Stratford Coat of Arms, and that is its exact relationship to the arms of Luxembourg and of Lusignan. Both bear (with some variation in number) a barruly of ten Argent and Azure, and both have a lion rampant gules - though often on these royal arms it is granted a crown (or), and the lion of Luxembourg bears a forked tail as difference. The similarity is too close to be dismissed satisfactorily as independent coincidence, and historians have generated various theories as to the connection between the houses and the arms, none conclusive.[35]


  1. ^ Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 2. The Stratford Family Heraldry. [1]
  2. ^ Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 4. The Pedigree and Who Married Whom. [2]
  3. ^ Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 6. Farmcote, The House, Manor, and Chapel. [3]
  4. ^ A History of the County of Warwick - Volume 4 (1947) pp142-147 from British History Online
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 11. The Extinct Earldom. [4]
  6. ^ a b Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 13. Belan, Aldborough, and Stratford House. [5]
  7. ^ a b c Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 5. The Tracys, Dugdales, Throgmortons and Overburys. [6]
  8. ^ [7]
  9. ^ [8]
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Blomefield and Parkin An essay towards a topographical history of the county of Norfolk pp. 390
  13. ^ David Charles Douglas, Alec Reginald Myers "English historical documents. 4. [Late medieval]. 1327 - 1485" p. 69
  14. ^ Cradock, Joseph "Literary and miscellaneous memoirs, Volume 1" pp. 23-24
  15. ^ The Peerage entry for Dugdale Stratford Dugdale
  16. ^ The Peerage entry for William Stratford Dugdale
  17. ^ Thomas Dudley Fosbroke, "Companion to the Wye tour. Ariconensia; or, Archæological sketches of Ross and Archenfield: illustrative of the campaigns of Caractacus; the station Ariconium, &c., with other matters" pp. 165-166
  18. ^ Abstracts of Wiltshire Inquisitions Post Mortem "Vol. 48, Pt. 3 (1914) 1327-1377" p. 381
  19. ^ "57M76/E/T13" 76057 - Barton Stacey, Odiham etc medieval deeds (photocopies) [9]
  20. ^ "Petitions of James Stratford, theatre manager, for renewal of licence" NBC/18/7. 1807-1808. held at the Isle of Wight Records Office.
  21. ^ BUSINESS PLAN - (October) 2012 – 2015. The Alton Society, Hampshire
  22. ^ Sawers family genealogy site (run by David Sawers, brother of John) - Stratford lineage
  23. ^ The London Gazette: no. 11739. p. 1. 25 January 1777. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  24. ^ The London Gazette: no. 10311. p. 1. 7 May 1763. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  25. ^ The London Gazette: no. 11679. p. 1. 29 June 1776. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  26. ^ J. Nichols "A biographical peerage of Ireland, in which are memoirs and characters of the most celebrated persons of each family" pp. 107-108
  27. ^ The Peerage entry for Edward Stratford
  28. ^ G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I, page 100. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.
  29. ^ The Peerage entry for Abigail Stratford
  30. ^ The Peerage entry for Stratford Canning, 1st Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe
  31. ^ The Peerage entry for Lady Amelia Stratford
  32. ^ "The Peerage" entry for Roshnara Barbara Wingfield-Stratford
  33. ^ Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 2. The Stratford Family Heraldry. [10]
  34. ^ Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 2. The Stratford Family Heraldry. [11]
  35. ^ Péporté, Pit. "Constructing the Middle Ages: Historiography, Collective Memory and Nation-Building in Luxembourg" pp 80-93. BRILL. (2011)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]