Spensers History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
When the ancestors of the Spensers family arrived in England following the Norman Conquest of 1066, they brought their name with them. It is a name for a butler or steward. The surname Spensers was originally derived from the Old French word despensier, of the same meaning. 
Early Origins of the Spensers family
The surname Spensers 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 Spensers family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Spensers 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 Spensers History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Spensers Spelling Variations
Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Spencer, Spenser, Spensor and others.
Early Notables of the Spensers 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 Spensers Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Spensers family
To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Spensers or a variant listed above: 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.
Related Stories +
The Spensers 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)