This famous Cheshire and South Lancashire surname, is believed to derive from a 'lost' village of the same name. 'Bancroft' describes a hamlet on a hill side, the origin being olde English pre 7th century 'ban' a hillside or bank and 'crofta' - a farmstead or hamlet. For such a poorly recorded origin it has produced more than its fair share of famous personalities. It would seem that the hamlet either just faded away or it was a victim of the late medieval 'Enclosure Acts' by which the landlords took possession of the common grazing, forcing the tenants to move elsewhere. Either way the Bancrofts certainly made good with one Richard Bancroft being appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. He received in 1604 a grant of a Coat of Arms from the new King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland. This has the blazon of a gold field, on a bend between six cross crosslets all blue, three golden garbs, and the crest of a garb between two outstretched wings. A more pragmatic Bancroft was Edward Bancroft (1742 - 1821) a chemist who invented many new textile dyes. His son Edward Nathan Bancroft (1772 - 1842) became physician to the British army in the West Indies, where he remained from 1810. He was the first to identify the causes of Yellow Fever. Other recordings include John Bancroft of Macclesfield, in the wills list at Chester for 1595, and John Bancroft, who married Mary Glover at St Georges Church, Hanover Square, London in 1764. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Bancrofte, which was dated 1279, in the Hundred Rolls of Cheshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as 'The hammer of the Scots', 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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