Strickland (surname)

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Strickland Coat of Arms

The English surname Strickland is derived from the place-name Stercaland, of Old Norse origins, which is found in Westmorland to the south of Penrith. It has been used as a family name at least since the late 12th century, when Walter of Castlecarrock married Christian of Leteham, an heiress to the landed estate that covered the area where the villages of Great Strickland and Little Strickland are now. After this marriage Walter became known as Walter of Strickland, spelt in various ways.[1][2]

The coat of arms of the Strickland family of Gilsland is Sable three escalopes Argent, meaning three sea shells on a black field.


The family of Castlecarrock was descended from the Norman family of Vaux, called in Latin Vallibus, which came originally from Falaise in Normandy. Hubert de Vaux became the first Norman lord of Gilsland in Cumberland (now part of Cumbria), an estate around Brampton and Castle Carrock. Hubert's son Eustace married one of the two sisters who were the co-heiresses of Robert son of Bueth, the last direct male descendant of a native chieftain, Gilles son of Bueth. Robert was the owner of Gilsland in the time of King Henry I.

Sir William de Strickland (1242–1305) married Elizabeth d'Eyncourt, who was descended on her mother's side from the Clan Dunbar, cadets of the Scottish kings, and from Uchtred, Earldorman of Northumberland and his third wife Aelfgifu, a daughter of Ethelred the Unready. It was by this marriage that Sizergh Castle became the Strickland family seat.

The name of Strickland first came to notice at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, when Thomas Strickland Esquire carried the Flag of St. George, dismounted, as he was still a knight in training. He had brought with him men-at-arms from his estate at Great Strickland in Westmorland and other troops from Kendal (the Kendal Bowmen).

The family fought against the Scots during their incursions into the English Marches, and Sir Walter Strickland also fought for the House of York during the Wars of the Roses. The family was a major landowner in Westmorland and Lancashire, and the name appears linked to local landmarks (Strickland Wood, Warton near Carnforth for example).

The family at Sizergh remained Roman Catholics after the Reformation. As the family grew, various branches appeared, one of which married into the Constable family of Yorkshire, another branch settled early on in Hertfordshire. With migration to the colonies and the growth of the British Empire, the name of Strickland has spread world wide.

The Kendal Parish Church (Holy Trinity) has a Strickland family chapel[3] and both Kendal and Penrith have main roads called Stricklandgate (The 'gate' element is derived from the Old Norse 'gata', meaning street).

A settlement first appeared on the west side of present day Kendal not long after the 1066 Norman Invasion when a Motte and Bailey fortification was built, this became known as Kirkbie Strickland (Kirkbie meaning church).

There are different spellings, but the family name Stickland is not connected, being Saxon and originating from Dorset.[4]

Queen Katherine[edit]

Katherine Parr who married King Henry VIII was descended from the Strickland family via her ancestors Catherine de Strickland and Elizabeth Ros.[5]

"Strike-land" myth[edit]

The poet and historical writer Agnes Strickland (1796-1874) claimed that in 1066 a knight with William the Conqueror's invasion fleet was the first Norman to come ashore in England and struck his sword into the beach, thus gaining the name of "Strikeland", but no evidence supports this claim and it is considered fanciful.

United States of America[edit]

In the United States a DNA project[6] has been established to determine Strickland descendancy from Matthew Strickland, an early inhabitant of 17th century Isle of Wight County, Virginia.

The Washingtons of Virginia[edit]

George Washington, the first President of the United States of America, was a direct descendant of the Stricklands. When Joan De Strickland (1272–1352) married Robert De Wessington, her estate included the parish of Natland and combined with that of Warton.[citation needed]

List of persons with the surname Strickland[edit]

See also[edit]