Despenser History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
Despenser is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is a name for a butler or steward. The surname Despenser was originally derived from the Old French word despensier, of the same meaning. 
Early Origins of the Despenser family
The surname Despenser was first found in Leicestershire where "in the eighteenth year of William the Conqueror lived Robertus Dispensator, otherwise called Le Despencer, because he was steward to the king. In the reign of Henry I. there were a William le Despencer and a Thurston Dispencer, but these last were only successors in office, or actual descendants of Robert is not known, and the like uncertainty prevails as to subsequent bearers of the name. " 
Another source provides a similar history with slightly different spellings: "Robert le Despencer, of the Conqueror's time derived his name from his office of steward to the king, and appears, from the numerous lordships he possessed, to have been a person of great eminence. His descendants - the two Despencers - the ill-fated favourites of the Second Edward, are too well known to require more than a mere mention here. The heir-general of the family is Mary Frances Elizabeth, Baroness Le Despencer. Of the younger branches the chief are the Spencere of Wormleighton, represented by the Duke of Marlborough, and the Spencers of Althorp, by Earl Spencer." 
"The Spencers so famous in English history appear to have derived from Odard, a Baron of Chester, who with Nigel, Baron of Halton and Constable of Chester, and other brothers, came with Earl Hugh Lupus, being probably of the house of Avranches. This may be inferred from the ancient arms, which were preserved by the Warburtons, descendants of Odard." 
The name is "absent or rare in the north and south of England. Most numerous in the midlands, especially Warwickshire, and afterwards in Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, and Notts." 
At this time, some of the family held a family seat at Loughborough. "The noble family of Despenser, anciently possessors of the manor, obtained the grant of a market and fairs for the town." 
Later, a branch of the family was found at Yarnton, or Yarington in Oxfordshire. "The church is ancient, with a tower built in 1612, by Sir Thomas Spencer. He also erected the aisle in which he is interred, as a sepulchral chapel for his family, who resided in the old manor-house near the church, the remains of which are now occupied as a farmhouse. In a recess in the aisle is an altar-tomb, with recumbent effigies of Sir William Spencer and his lady; and the churchyard contains a cross embellished with figures in full length, now much mutilated." 
The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included John le Spencer, Southamptonshire; and Henry le Spenser, Cambridgeshire and later the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included: Thomas Spenser; and Agnes Spenser. 
Early History of the Despenser family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Despenser research. Another 144 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1259, 1265, 1262, 1326, 1326, 1342, 1402, 1593, 1661, 1621, 1629, 1661, 1570, 1627, 1591, 1636, 1594, 1656, 1621, 1648, 1620, 1643, 1617, 1684, 1601, 1671, 1630 and 1693 are included under the topic Early Despenser History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Despenser Spelling Variations
Before the last few hundred years the English language had no fixed system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations occurred commonly in Anglo Norman surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Despenser were recorded, including Spencer, Spenser, Spensor and others.
Early Notables of the Despenser family (pre 1700)
Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Hugh le Despenser (d. 1265), Justiciary of England; Hugh le Despenser the Elder, Earl of Winchester (1262-1326), the son of Hugh le Despenser; Hugh le Despenser the Younger, (d. 1326), Baron, son of Hugh le Despenser the Elder; Philip Le Despencer, 1st Baron le Despenser (1342-1402), son and heir of Sir Philip le Despenser of Goxhill, son of Sir Philip Le Despencer; Richard Spencer (1593-1661), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1621 to 1629 and in 1661, he supported the Royalist cause in the English Civil War; Robert...
Another 110 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Despenser Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Despenser family
The unstable environment in England at this time caused numerous families to board ships and leave in search of opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad in places like Ireland, Australia, and particularly the New World. The voyage was extremely difficult, however, and only taken at great expense. The cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels caused many to arrive diseased and starving, not to mention destitute from the enormous cost. Still opportunity in the emerging nations of Canada and the United States was far greater than at home and many went on to make important contributions to the cultures of their adopted countries. An examination of many early immigration records reveals that people bearing the name Despenser arrived in North America very early: Thomas Spencer settled in Virginia in 1623; William Spencer settled in Cambridge Massachusetts in 1630; Thomas Spencer settled in Maine in 1630; Peter and John Spencer settled in Barbados in 1635.
Contemporary Notables of the name Despenser (post 1700) +
- Baron Hugh Despenser (1262-1326), English baron
Related Stories +
The Despenser Motto +
The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.
Motto: Dieu defend le droit
Motto Translation: God defends the right.
- ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
- ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
- ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
- ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)