1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Stanley (Family)

STANLEY (Family). This ancient and historic English family derived its name from Stanley in Leek (in the Staffordshire “moorlands”). Its first known ancestor is Adam de Stanley, brother of Liulf de Audley, ancestor of the lords Audley, who lived in the time of King Stephen. His descendant William de Stanley acquired the forestership of Wirral, with an heiress, in 1284, and was ancestor of two brothers, Sir William and Sir John Stanley. The former married the heiress of Hooton in Wirral and was ancestor of the Stanleys of Hooton, whose baronetcy, created in 1661, became extinct in 1893. The younger brother was lieutenant of Ireland under Richard II. and Henry IV., obtained from the latter the Isle of Man in fee, built a fortified house at Liverpool, and became K.G. He married the heiress of the Lathoms, a native family who had held Lathom in thanage from the Conquest at least and Knowsley by knight-service from the 12th century. His grandson Thomas was father of the first earl of Derby (see Derby, Earls of) and of Sir William Stanley of Holt, whose great wealth led to his execution for treason in 1495, and also of Sir John Stanley, ancestor of the Stanleys of Alderley, who obtained a baronetcy in 1660 and a barony in 1839.

Of the second earl’s younger brothers, Sir Edward was raised to the peerage as Lord Monteagle in 1514 for his services at Flodden, but the dignity passed with an heiress to the Parkers in 1581; and Sir James was ancestor of the Stanleys of Bickerstaffe, who obtained a baronetcy in 1628 and succeeded to the earldom in 1736. Their father had married the heiress of Lord Strange of Knockyn, and was summoned in that peerage from 1482 to 1497, but did not live to inherit the earldom. His wife was a first cousin of Henry VII.’s queen.

The 4th earl was summoned as Lord Strange, in his father’s lifetime, as was the 5th earl, but the barony fell into abeyance between his three daughters, who contested possession of the family estates with his brother, the 6th earl. He bought out their rights in the Isle of Man, and, by his marriage with a sister and co-heir of the 18th earl of Oxford, acquired a claim to the great chamberlainship, which he advanced in 1626 and which was renewed by their descendants. His son was summoned as Lord Strange in 1628 in the erroneous belief that the family retained the dignity, and a fresh barony of Strange was thus created. But on the death of the 10th earl (1736) this barony, with the lordship of Man and other great estates, passed to the 2nd duke of Atholl, whose heir, the present duke, holds the title. The earldom with large estates in Lancashire, passed to the heir male (see above).

Although the present wealth of the Stanleys is largely derived from the great industrial development of Lancashire, they were already a power to be reckoned with in that county and in Cheshire at the time of the Wars of the Roses, and have held a leading position ever since among English nobles. .For three centuries they were in succession lords-lieutenant of Lancashire and occasionally of Cheshire as well, and they have always lived in considerable state. Lathom House, their ancient seat, in the hundred of West Derby (whence possibly the style of their earldom) , was wrecked in the Civil War, and, though rebuilt by the ninth earl, was sold by his daughters. But Knowsley, with its great park, is still theirs, lying to the east of Liverpool, in which their feudal tower still stood in 1821.

See Young’s Hundred of Wirral (Liverpool, 1909) ; Round’s Peerage and Pedigree (London, 1910); County Histories of Lancashire and Cheshire, and works on the peerage passim.  (J. H. R.) 

The barony of Stanley of Alderley was created in 1839 for Sir John Thomas Stanley, Bart. (1766–1850), of Alderley Park, Cheshire, a brother of Edward Stanley (1779–1849), bishop of Norwich and father of Arthur Penrhyn Stanley. A member of parliament and a fellow of the Royal Society, he married Maria Josepha (d. 1863), daughter of John Holroyd, 1st earl of Sheffield. Their eldest son, Edward John Stanley, 2nd baron (1802–1869), entered the House of Commons in 1831 and became under-secretary to the home department in 1841, patronage secretary to the treasury from 1835 to 1841, paymaster-general in 1841, and under-secretary for foreign affairs from 1846 to 1852. In 1848, two years before he succeeded to the barony of Stanley, he was created Baron Eddisbury of Winnington. He was president of the board of trade from 1853 to 1858, and postmaster-general from 1860 to 1866. His wife, Henrietta Maria (1807–1895), a daughter of Henry Augustus Dillon-Lee, 13th Viscount Dillon, was a remarkable woman. Before her marriage in 1826 she had lived in Florence, and had attended the receptions of the countess of Albany, the widow of Charles Edward, the Young Pretender; and in London she had great influence in social and political circles. When he was patronage secretary her husband was described by Lord Palmerston as “joint-whip with Mrs Stanley.” Later in life Lady Stanley of Alderley helped to found the Women’s Liberal Unionist Association, and she was a strenuous worker for the higher education of women, helping to establish Girton College, Cambridge, the Girls’ Public Day School Company, and the Medical College for Women. She died on the 16th of February 1895. Her younger son, Edward Lyulph Stanley (b. 1839), who in 1903 succeeded his brother Henry Edward John (1827–1903) as 4th baron, had previously had an active career as an educationist and a Liberal politician. He was a fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, and was M.P. for Oldham from 1880 to 1885. He was for many years a member of the London School Board. In 1909 on the death of the 3rd earl of Sheffield, he inherited the barony of Sheffield, and that of Stanley of Alderley now became merged in it.