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An excerpt from 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." [1]CITATION[CLOSE]
Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.

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 and printed products wherever possible.


Notable amongst the family up to this time was Jenet Sarsfield, Baroness Dunsany ( c.1528-1598 ), an Irish noblewoman from County Meath, memorable for having six husbands; Dominick Sarsfield, 1st Viscount Sarsfield ( c. 1570-1636), Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas, but was removed...

Another 44 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sarsfield Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


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

  • Will Sarsfield settled in Georgia in 1734

Sarsfield Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Monarch Sarsfield arrived in Philadelphia in 1871

Sarsfield Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Garrett Sarsfield, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749

Sarsfield Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Patrick Sarsfield, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1838
  • Bridget Sarsfield, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1839

  • Eugene S. Sarsfield (1902-1943), United States Navy officer, recipient of the Navy Cross
  • Dalmacio Vélez Sarsfield (1800-1875), Argentine lawyer and politician
  • Mairuth Hodge Sarsfield CQ (1925-2013), Canadian author, activist journalist, researcher and television personality

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.


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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.

Other References

  1. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  2. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  3. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  4. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  5. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  6. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  7. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  8. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  9. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  10. 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).
  11. ...

The Sarsfield Family Crest was acquired from the 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.

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