This interesting and unusual name is of English topographical origin for a "dweller by the stony stream", from the old English pre 7th Century words "stan", stone or stony, plus the element "lacu", the old English for stream or bog. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The Devonshire church registers first recording of the name is on February 17th 1553 at Black Torrington when Richard son of Nicholas Stenlake was christened while another son William was christened there on February 8th 1556. Margery, Thomas, Joan, Katherine and Dorothy, all children of William Stanlake were christened at St. Margarets, Westminster, London on October 5th 1591; July 26th 1593; August 17th 1595; February 1600 and September 6th 1601, respectively. One Dorrytye Stanlake married Wyllyam Hawse at St. Olave, old Jewry, London on May 28th 1593. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas de Stanlac, which was dated 1221, the Curia Rolls of Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 111, "the Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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