Introduction to the Stanley Family

There is a document in the The Public Record office of Northern Ireland entitled ‘The Stanley Tree – Armagh Branch’. This document was donated by Rupert M. C. Stanley, and I am very grateful to him as it provided an excellent starting point from both the informational and inspirational points of view.

The following image is reproduced from this document with the kind permission of the ‘Deputy Keeper of the Records, The Public Record office of Northern Ireland’.

Extract from Stanley Family Tree
It reads ‘Charles Stanley An Officer in the English Army came to Ireland about 1600 with his brother William. Bought 100 acres at Derryhale, Co Armagh. Lived to 104 years of age. Had 3 sons and 4 daughters. William returned to England’.

The date of ‘about 1600′ corresponds to the time of the Plantation of Ulster. The part of County Armagh that contains Derryhale was granted to Francis Sacheverell in 1610. In Pynnar’s Survey carried out in 1618-1619, he reported that in the 2,000 acres granted to Francis Sacheverell there were 3 freeholders and 18 lessees. 1 of the 3 freeholders held 100 acres as did 5 of the lessees. Unfortunately he does not name the freeholders or lessees.

The names Charles and William Stanley appear among the ’49 Officers’, a list of commissioned officers due arrears having served Charles I or Charles II in the Wars of Ireland. However as Charles was granted land in Cashel or Dublin and William land in Dublin there is nothing there to link them to Derryhale.

The earliest records I have found relating to the Stanleys at Derryhale date back to 1713. On the 1st May of that year Charles Stanley leased 54 acres at Derryhaile from William Richardson. On the same date Thomas Standly also leased 54 acres at Derryhail from William Richardson. The lease that Thomas undertook was for the lives of his 3 sons, Charles, Henry and William at a yearly rent of 3 shillings and 6 pence per acre.

The Reverend George Hill in his book The Montgomery Manuscripts quotes a number of cases of longevity, included in this list is a Charles Stanley of Derryhale who died aged 104 in 1794.

The truth of the matter may never be determined but the combination of family legend and recorded facts provide plenty of opportunity for speculation.

The Stanley Tree hints at a relationship between the Derryhale Stanleys and the Stanley family, the Earls of Derby. To date I have found no proof of this however the illustration shown below is an extract from a map of the ‘Lands and Tenements in and adjoining the City of Armagh in the Possession of John Stanley Esquire’. It shows an eagle on it’s nest with a baby at it’s feet. This is The Eagle and Child of the Lathom family. It became the crest of the Stanley family when Isabel, daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Lathom became the wife of Sir John


The story of The Eagle and Child is a traditional tale going back to the time of King Alfred. In the Lathom family it is told as follows:
‘Sir Thomas Lathom had one child, Isabel and was anxious to have a son and heir to carry the family name. His wife being of advanced years, Sir Thomas turned to a young gentlewoman who obliged him with a son. The child was brought by a servant to the foot of a tree in which an eagle nested. Sir Thomas and his lady on their usual walk found the child as if by accident. The old lady believed the child to be a gift from heaven, brought by the eagle and the child was adopted as their heir. The child was given the name Oskatell after his mother Mary Oskatell. The Eagle and Child was then adopted as the family crest. On his death-bed Sir Thomas had a change of heart and left the bulk of his fortune to Isabel, now the wife of Sir John Stanley.’

St Marks Armagh Memorial
The crest is seen again on the memorial (above) to John Stanley and his wife Septima in St Mark’s Parish Church, Armagh. It also carries the Coat of Arms of the Stanley family, the Earls of Derby along with the family motto Sans changer.

The earliest ancestor linked into the Stanley family tree is Thomas Stanley born 1720. (see The Family of Thomas Stanley and Dorothea Carrol).

For those interested in the history of the Burns, Stanley and Noble families.