A Quest For The Past

In Search
of the
Staunton Family

Staunton, Stanton, de Stonndun

STANTON is an English place name, from old English Stan = Stone and Tun = settlement or enclosure. The man from the settlement on stoney ground was described as Stan-Tun. There are numerous locations throughout England with the name, and the man who left one of those locations for a new settlement would also be refered to in that fashion by his new neighbours, to designate him as the new person from that town.

One of the earliest English names in Ireland. The most important branch settled in Mayo and are still numerous in Connacht.

MacEvilly, Staunton, important Hiberno-Norman sept. The family of Staunton was among the early settlers in Connacht after the Anglo-Norman invasion.

At the beginning of the 14th century under the famous "Red Earl" (Richard de Burgo) they acquired territory in the baronies of Clanmorris and Carra.

The ancestor of the MacEvillys (Mac an Mhílidh - son of the knight) was Sir Bernard Staunton, or de Sdondon as it was formerly spelled, whose son, Philip Mór de Sdondon was among the first invaders.

In 1585 Mylie MacEvilly of Kinturke, Co. Mayo, was described in the Composition Book of Connacht as chief of his name, yet a century later the Mayo Book of Survey and Distribution mentions many Stauntons as land holders in that county, but has no MacEvilly or MacAvealy, which were alternative forms of that name. It is a fact that the MacEvillys have to a very large extent reverted to the name Staunton.

In the birth registrations for 1890 there were 67 Stauntons or Stantons (chiefly in counties Mayo and Galway, but 14 were in Co. Cork) and MacEvilly had less than 5 entries. Even a generation earlier we find but one in 1864 and 5 in 1865. In this connexion it may be noted that MacEvilly and Staunton were used indifferently in recent times by the same families in Co. Sligo and the former was prominent in the second half of the 19th century in the person  MacEvilly, Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora from 1857-1881 and Archbishop of Tuam from 1881-1902. Castle Stanton is a place near Castlebar, Co. Mayo.

Three Stauntons from west of the Shannon were prominent in their day - Sir George Staunton (1737-1801) and his son George Thomas Staunton (1781- 1859) were notable for their activities in China, while Michael Staunton (1788-1870), Lord Mayor of Dublin and editor of the Freeman's Journal, was at first an associate and later an opponent of the Young Irelanders.

Not all Stauntons, however, are of this early Hiberno-Norman stock. There have been a number of English immigrants of the name including  two Cromwellian adventurers.