An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016
Ireland already had an established system of hereditary surnames when the Strongbownians arrived. Often the two traditions blended together quite well due to some of their basic similarities, but the incoming Anglo-Norman system brought in some forms that were uncommon amongst the Irish. One of these Anglo-Norman anomalies was the prevalence of local surnames, such as Sarsfield. Local names were taken from the names of a place or a geographical feature where the person lived, held land, or was born. Originally, the place names were prefixed by de, which means from in French. This type of prefix was eventually either made a part of the surname if the place name began with a vowel or was eliminated entirely. The local surnames of these Strongbownian invaders referred to places in Normandy, or more typically England, but eventually for those Anglo- Normans that remained in Ireland, the nicknames referred to places or geographical features of the island: they became true local names. The Sarsfield family appears to have originally lived in either of the settlements named Sarnesfield in the English counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The surname Sarsfield belongs to the large category of Anglo-Norman habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. The Gaelic form of the surname Sarsfield is Sáirséil.
The surname Sarsfield was first found in County Cork (Irish: Corcaigh) the ancient Kingdom of Deis Muin (Desmond), located on the southwest coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where they were granted lands by Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, for their assistance in the invasion of Ireland in 1172. Another reference claims "the first of the family of Sarsfield who settled in Ireland is said to have been Thomas de Sarsfield. 'chief banner-bearer' to King Henry II., AD 1172." 
During the lifetime of an individual person, his name was often spelt by church officials and medieval scribes the way it sounded. An examination of the many different origins of each name has revealed many spelling variations for the name: Sarsefield, Sarnesfield, Sarsfield, Sharisfield, Sarisfield, Sarisfell, Sarsfell, Sarnesfell and many more.
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sarsfield research. Another 283 words (20 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1300, 1636, 1701, 1528, 1598, 1570, 1636, 1648, 1687, 1701, 1660 and 1693 are included under the topic Early Sarsfield History in all our PDF Extended History products.
Another 157 words (11 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sarsfield Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.
In the mid-19th century, Ireland experienced one of the worst periods in its entire history. During this decade in order to ease the pressure of the soil, which was actually depleted by the effects of the previous years' grain crops, landowners forced tenant farmers and peasants onto tiny plots of land that barely provided the basic sustenance a family required. Conditions were worsened, though, by the population of the country, which was growing fast to roughly eight million. So when the Great Potato Famine of the mid-1840s hit, starvation and diseases decimated the population. Thousands of Irish families left the country for British North America and the United States. The new immigrants were often accommodated either in the opening western frontiers or as cheap unskilled labor in the established centers. In early passenger and immigration lists there are many immigrants bearing the name Sarsfield:
Sarsfield Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
Sarsfield Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
Sarsfield Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
Sarsfield Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
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: Virtus non vertitur
Motto Translation: Virtue not changed.
The Sarsfield Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Sarsfield Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.
This page was last modified on 6 November 2015 at 13:54.