Spenser History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
Spenser is a name that first reached England following the Norman Conquest in 1066. It is a name for a butler or steward. The surname Spenser was originally derived from the Old French word despensier, of the same meaning. 
Early Origins of the Spenser family
The surname Spenser 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 Spenser family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Spenser 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 Spenser History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Spenser Spelling Variations
Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Spencer, Spenser, Spensor and others.
Early Notables of the Spenser 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 Spenser Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
In the United States, the name Spenser is the 14,475th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. 
Spenser migration to the United States +
Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Spenser name or one of its variants:
Spenser Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
- Robert and Susan Spenser, who settled in Virginia in 1635
- Robert Spenser, aged 21, who landed in Virginia in 1635 
- Mary Spenser, aged 21, who landed in Virginia in 1684 
Contemporary Notables of the name Spenser (post 1700) +
- Thomas Spenser, American politician, Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Deputies, 1738 
- John Spenser Pingel (1916-1999), American football halfback, inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968
- Spenser Mango (b. 1986), American Greco-Roman Wrestler at the 2008 Summer Olympics
Related Stories +
The Spenser 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)
- ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
- ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
- ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 11) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html