This interesting surname is one of the oldest and noblest of all English surnames, with the Stanley family who hold the earldom of Derby tracing their descent from a companion of Wilham the Conqueror, Adam de Aldithley. A branch of the family taking the name Stanley when Adam's grandson married the heiress to the manor of Stanley in Staffordshire. The name itself is of Anglo-Saxon locational origin from any of the various places so called in Derbyshire, Durham and Gloucester, and is composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century "stan", a stone, plus "leah", a wood or clearing. The founder of the family's fortune was Sir John Stanley (1350 - 1414), who married an heiress of West Derby, Lancashire, and became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and was granted sovereignty over the Isle of Man by Henry 1V. One Thomas Baron Stanley placed the Crown of England on the head of Henry Tudor (Henry V11) at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, and was created Earl of Derby. Other famous namebearers include Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby (1508 - 1572), who signed a petition to Pope Clement V11 for Henry V111's divorce, 1530; and Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815 - 1881) who was Dean of Westminster from 1864 - 1881. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Stanleya, which was dated 1130, in the "Pipe Rolls of Staffordshire", during the reign of King Henry 1, known as "The Administrator", 1100 - 1135. 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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