Stratford family

Coats of arms associated with the Stratford family:
  • a) Per fess gules and sable, three plates
  • b) Sable, a fess argent, between three plates
  • c) Gules, a fess humette or, between three trestles, argent
  • d) Gules, a fess humette between three trestles, argent
  • e) Barruly of ten, argent and azure, a lion rampant, or
  • f) Barruly of ten, or and gules, a lion rampant, argent
  • g) Barruly of eight, argent and azure, a lion rampant, gules
  • h) Barruly of ten, argent and azure, a lion rampant gules, langued or[1][2][3][4][5]
Three Variations on the Stratford Crest Scimitar armoured, scimitar unarmoured, falchion armoured.

The Stratfords are an ancient family of England, either giving their name to, or taking it from, Stratford-on-Avon in the 12th century and traceable back to the Norman conquest. Their branches include the clergy, the gentry, and the aristocracy. Since their establishment the Stratfords have spawned numerous religious, cultural and political leaders, multiple Bishops, Archbishops, Viscountcies, Baronies and an Earldom.[6] Historic family seats have included Farmcote Manor and Stratford Park in Gloucester,[7] Merevale Hall in Warwickshire,[8] Baltinglass Castle,[9] Belan House and Aldborough House in Ireland, and Stratford House in London.[10] They have links with numerous noble families, including the Tracys, Sudeleys, Dugdale baronets, Throgmortons, Overburys, and Wingfields.[11][9] They were at their most powerful in the 14th and 18th centuries.

The Warwickshire Stratfords (13th-14th Century)

Robert de Stratford, an original burgess of Stratford-on-Avon, is the earliest indisputably traceable member of the paternal Stratford line. His children and nephews rose to positions of power and influence in the political and religious landscape of England in the 14th century, and originated all other branches of the family.[12][13]

The Stratfords of Merevale (17th-18th Century)

Merevale Hall, Warwickshire now seat of the Dugdale Baronets.

The Manor of Merevale in north Warwickshire (including the original Merevale Hall and estate) was purchased in the mid 17th century by Edward Stratford (died 1665). [9] Having established himself, Edward settled the sum of £500 on his younger brother Robert in order to fund his starting a life in Ireland.[11] Robert settled at Baltinglass Castle and went on to sire the Earls of Aldborough, and a close relationship between the Merevale and the Irish branch was maintained until the extinction.[14]

In 1749 the property was inherited by Penelope Bate Stratford (the daughter and co-heiress of Francis Stratford of Merevale) who married into the (now) Dugdale baronets, who still possess the estate.[9]

The Stratford Dugdales & Dugdale Baronets

In 1749 Merevale Hall was inherited by Edward's eventual descendant Penelope Bate Stratford (the daughter and co-heiress of Francis Stratford of Merevale) who married William Geast. William Geast took the surname of his Uncle, John Dugdale, and their child was Dugdale Stratford Dugdale who married the honourable Charlotte Curzon, daughter of Assheton Curzon, 1st Viscount Curzon of the (now) Earls Howe.[15] Their son William Stratford Dugdale had a son also named William Stratford Dugdale who had a son named William Francis Stratford Dugdale, who came to be the 1st Baronet.[16] The Merevale estate has descended to the present incumbent, his grandson Sir William Matthew Stratford Dugdale, 3rd Bt of the Dugdale baronets.[9]

The Gloucestershire Stratfords

Great Farmcote Manor The feudal manor house of the Farmcote Estate, historically the seat of the Gloucestershire Stratfords

It was Thomas de Stratford of the original Warwickshire Stratfords who first moved the family's interests to Gloucestershire, holding the post of Archdeacon of Gloucester. Stephen de Stratford, Kinsman to Thomas and John, was the father of another John Stratford who, in 1320, became a member of parliament for Gloucestershire, where the Stratfords had been granted Lordship of the Manor of Farmcote, Hawling and Temple Guiting in 1314. His son was raised to the knighthood as Sir Stephen Stratford,[17] and this branch of the family became resident at the ancient, feudal Farmcote Manor House following the dissolution of Hailes Abbey in 1539. This branch were cousins to Robert Dover, and involved in the establishment of the Cotswold Olimpick Games in 1612.[9]

The Farmcote and Hawling estates were sold in 1756, by sons of Walter Stratford, though part of Farmcote Manor still stands, and Stratford tombs, arms and effigies can be found in the estate chapel there.[9]

Notable members of this line include:

The Irish Stratfords & Earls of Aldborough (18th-19th Century)

Aldborough House, Dublin Built by Edward Augustus Stratford (1736-1801), 2nd Earl of Aldborough between 1792 and 1798
The coat of arms for the Earls of Aldborough with Supporters, the Female representing Fame, the male representing War - Virtuti Nihil Obstat Et Armis (Nothing Resists Valour and Arms).

A later branch of the family extended from the Stratfords of Merevale and into Ireland, where they went on to enter the peerage as Earls of Aldborough, of the Palatinate of Upper Ormond. The title was created on 9 February 1777, along with the subsidiary title Viscount Amiens, for John Stratford, 1st Viscount Aldborough.[18] He had already been created Baron Baltinglass, of Baltinglass, in the County of Wicklow,[19] on 21 May 1763, and Viscount Aldborough, of the Palatinate of Upper Ormond,[20] on 22 July 1776. These titles were also in the Peerage of Ireland. Three of his sons, the second, third and fourth Earls, all succeeded in the titles. They became extinct on the death of the latter's grandson, the sixth Earl, in 1875. Their seats were Belan House, Aldborough House, Baltinglass Castle and Stratford House.

The Stratford Cannings & Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe

Abigail Stratford was the daughter of Robert Stratford, progenitor of the Irish Stratfords. In 1697 she married George Canning,[24] and in 1703 they had a son, named Stratford Canning. He had a son sometime after 1734, also named Stratford Canning, who had a son in 1786, also named Stratford Canning, who was created 1st Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe on 24 April 1852.[25]

The Wingfield-Stratfords, Viscount Powerscourt, & Baron Wrottesley

Lady Amelia Stratford was the daughter of John Stratford, 1st Earl of Aldborough. On the 7th September 1760 she married Richard Wingfield, 3rd Viscount Powerscourt, and took his name; it is from this maternal Stratford lineage that the current Viscount Powerscourt descends.[26]

The Stratford descendant Viscounts Powerscourt are as follows:

When Edward Stratford, 2nd Earl of Aldborough (Amelia's brother) died in 1801 he bequeathed the bulk of his estate to Amelia's grandson (his nephew, too junior to inherit the Powerscourt Viscountcy) on the proviso that he took back the Stratford name, thus becoming John Wingfield-Stratford in 1802.[9] This line inherited Stratford House in London, and Amelia lived there until her death in 1831. It was sold in 1832.[10]

Notable Wingfield-Stratfords include:

Esmé Cecil's daughter (Roshnara) married Richard John Wrottesley, 5th Baron Wrottesley, and though they later divorced it was through issue of their marriage that the Barony descended:

Stratford Coats of Arms

There are two main variant coats of arms associated with the Stratford family, Type A (or "trinity") and Type B (or "lion"). Type A can be further divided into the "Trestle" and "Roundel" subtypes.[28]

Type A (trinity)

The Type A (or "trinity") Stratford Coat of Arms is the oldest of the two, first associated with John de Stratford and his familia in the early 1300s. It can be divided into two broad subtypes; Trestle, and Roundel.[29]


The Trestle type is most closely associated with the original Warwickshire Bishops, the Hampshire Stratfords descended from Andrew Stratford, and with Nicholas Stratford. The design is consistently based around gules, a fess humette, surrounded by three trestles argent (sometimes or). Variants include colour of fess and trestles, and number of trestles.[30]

In heraldry the trestle (also tressle, tressel and threstle) as a charge is extremely rare, and known for symbolising hospitality (as historically the trestle was a tripod used both as a stool and a table support). The fess humette is apparently intended to represent a banqueting table, with the trestles gathered around[31]


The Roundel type is associated solely with the medieval Bishops, and appears to be an archaic, simplified or corrupted version of the Trestle type. The design is consistently based around a fess, surrounded by three roundels. Variants include colour of fess, field and rondel.[32]

A single example of a variant Roundel type surviving is in the later Irish recording of a shield in the name of Stratford: argent, a fess between three hawks heads erased, gules.[33]


The arms of the Streatfield (or Streatfeild) family, recorded in the 16th century, bear a striking resemblance to an attributed form of Stratford arms. This could be seen as evidence that the Streatfields, though their line cannot be traced beyond the 1500s, are in fact a branch of the Stratford family, the name having been corrupted at some point prior to the 16th century.[34]

Type B (lion)

The Type B Stratford Coat of Arms was first recorded by the Heralds Visitations to Gloucester of 1543, and since has been consistently based around a lion rampant, gules, on a barruly of ten, Argent and Azure. It is associated with the Gloucester, Merevale and Irish branches. Variations have included the addition of a crescent to denote a younger son, a change in the barruly number, change in langue colour, and in lion colour.[35]

The Earls of Aldborough took supporters of human figures, a winged woman and armoured man, representing Fame and War. Officially: Dexter a Female figure, representing Fame, vested Ar, winged Or, in her right hand a trumpet gold, and in her left hand an olive branch vert, the sword belt Gules. Sinister, a man in complete armour Proper, garnished Or, spurs, sword, shield and spear of the last, sword belt Gules, holding in his right hand the spear, and upon his left arm the shield.

They also adopted the motto "Virtuti Nihil Obstat Et Armis" (Nothing Resists Valour and Arms).[35]

Luxembourg and Lusignan

The Stratford Type B Coat of Arms is remarkably similar to two other prominent Coats of Arms, an extremely unorthodox occurrence. The exact relationship to the arms of Luxembourg and of Lusignan are unknown, if indeed any exists at all. Both bear (with some variation in number) a barruly of ten Argent and Azure, and both have a lion rampant gules - though often on these royal arms it is granted a crown (or), and the lion of Luxembourg bears a forked tail as difference. The similarity is too close to be dismissed satisfactorily as independent coincidence, and historians have generated various theories as to the connection between the houses and the arms, none conclusive.[36]


  1. Guillim, John. "A Display of Heraldry" 1724
  2. Bedford, WK Riland. "The Blazon of Episcopacy" 1858
  3. Papworth, John W. & Morant, Alfred. "Ordinary of British Armorials" 1874
  4. Burke, John. "General Armoury of England, Ireland and Scotland" 1847
  5. Berry, William. "Encyclopaedia Heraldica" 1828
  6. Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 4. The Pedigree and Who Married Whom.
  7. Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 6. Farmcote, The House, Manor, and Chapel.
  8. A History of the County of Warwick - Volume 4 (1947) pp142-147 from British History Online
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 11. The Extinct Earldom.
  10. 1 2 Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 13. Belan, Aldborough, and Stratford House.
  11. 1 2 Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 5. The Tracys, Dugdales, Throgmortons and Overburys.
  12. Blomefield and Parkin An essay towards a topographical history of the county of Norfolk pp. 390
  13. David Charles Douglas, Alec Reginald Myers "English historical documents. 4. [Late medieval]. 1327 - 1485" p. 69
  14. Cradock, Joseph "Literary and miscellaneous memoirs, Volume 1" pp. 23-24
  15. The Peerage entry for Dugdale Stratford Dugdale
  16. The Peerage entry for William Stratford Dugdale
  17. Thomas Dudley Fosbroke, "Companion to the Wye tour. Ariconensia; or, Archæological sketches of Ross and Archenfield: illustrative of the campaigns of Caractacus; the station Ariconium, &c., with other matters" pp. 165-166
  18. The London Gazette: no. 11739. p. 1. 25 January 1777. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  19. The London Gazette: no. 10311. p. 1. 7 May 1763. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  20. The London Gazette: no. 11679. p. 1. 29 June 1776. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  21. J. Nichols "A biographical peerage of Ireland, in which are memoirs and characters of the most celebrated persons of each family" pp. 107-108
  22. The Peerage entry for Edward Stratford
  23. G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I, page 100. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.
  24. The Peerage entry for Abigail Stratford
  25. The Peerage entry for Stratford Canning, 1st Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe
  26. The Peerage entry for Lady Amelia Stratford
  27. "The Peerage" entry for Roshnara Barbara Wingfield-Stratford
  28. Burke, John. "General Armoury of England, Ireland and Scotland" 1847
  29. Bedford, WK Riland. "The Blazon of Episcopacy" 1858
  30. Bedford, WK Riland. "The Blazon of Episcopacy" 1858
  31. Guillim, John. "A Display of Heraldry" 1724
  32. Bedford, WK Riland. "The Blazon of Episcopacy" 1858
  33. Papworth, John W. & Morant, Alfred. "Ordinary of British Armorials" 1874
  34. Guillim, John. "A Display of Heraldry" 1724
  35. 1 2 Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 2. The Stratford Family Heraldry
  36. Péporté, Pit. "Constructing the Middle Ages: Historiography, Collective Memory and Nation-Building in Luxembourg" pp 80-93. BRILL. (2011)

Further reading

External links

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