Select Stanley Miscellany

Here are some Stanley stories and accounts over the years:

Stoneley and Stanley in Staffordshire

The Stonely manor in Staffordshire dated from Saxon times.   At the time of the Norman Conquest, this estate belonged to Sir Henry de Stoneley, the place of his residence in that day supplying the surname of the owner. 

Two young Normans at that time, Adam and William de Alditheley, married wives of this Saxon de Stoneley family.  It was Adam, after an exchange with his cousin William, who made Stoneley his family residence.  In honor of his wife who came from a longstanding Saxon family, he assumed the surname of Stanley and became, sometime in the early 1100’s, the recognized founder of the Stanley family.

Thomas and William Stanley, Brothers at Bosworth Field in 1485

Thomas and William Stanley took different sides in the conflict between York and Lancaster in the War of the Roses.  They came together in one glorious moment at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.  Afterwards their paths diverged again and their fates turned out to be very different.

Thomas the elder played on both sides of the conflict for some time before coming down on the Lancastrian side by helping to broker the marriage of Henry Tudor with Elizabeth of York.  Meanwhile his younger brother William had been overtly seen in the Yorkist camp.  Both were present with their own forces at the decisive battle between the two camps at Bosworth Field.  It was said to have been Sir William Stanley's decisive intervention which gave Henry Tudor the victory.

After Bosworth Field, Thomas was held in the highest esteem.  Henry demonstrated his gratitude to his “right dearly beloved father” by creating him the Earl of Derby and the following year confirming him in office as the High Constable of England.

William was said to have served the new King loyally.  But he had been a Yorkist and Henry Tudor never quite trusted him.  In addition, he was rich and the King was said to have had one eye on his fortune.  His downfall came in 1495.  It was portrayed as follows in the 1972 BBC drama series The Shadow of the Tower.

“Sir William Stanley was detained in the Tower of London on suspicion of supporting a pretender to the throne.  He held his tongue, apparently convinced that the affair was a ruse by Henry to extort a large fine.  He reminded Henry that it was Stanley who took Richard's crown at Bosworth and placed it on Henry's head.  Henry's perception was that this was only after Stanley had seen which way the battle was going and switched sides.  Nevertheless Henry intended to pardon him.  

However, in an unguarded moment Stanley met with a fellow prisoner and was soon drawn into a treasonous tirade.  This was reported and Stanley was put on trial.  He was found guilty, sentenced to the forfeit of his estates and a painful death, which the King later commuted to beheading.

James Stanley, Bishop of Ely

James Stanley, born into the powerful Stanley family, was a churchman, although not necessarily a very devout one.  Like many senior churchmen of his day, there was a lady in his life and she bore him four children, three sons and one daughter.  He himself was an enthusiastic huntsman and took a great interest in cockfighting.  The other singular fact about him was his height.  Reputed to be some 6 feet 7 inches tall, he was described as the tallest man in England.

Politically, he was well-connected.  The year 1495 saw him entertaining King Henry VII at his rectory at Warwick.  In 1506 he was appointed Bishop of Ely, a position he held until his death in 1515.  At that time he restored the bishop’s palace and added a deer park in the nearby village of Somersham.

The following perhaps flattering verses commemorated him at his death:

“A goodly tall man as was in all England
And sped well all matters that he took in hand
King Harry the VIIth, a prince noble and sage
Made him bishop for wisdom and parentage
Of Ely. Many a daywas he bishop there.
He built Somersham the bishop's chief manner
A great palace as any in his days
For bishops that then was, this is no dispraise.
Because he was a priest I dare do no less
But tell, as I know not, of his hardiness.
What proud priest hath a blow n the ear suddenly
Turneth the other ear likewise for humility.
He could not so do by the ross in my purse
Yet I trust his soul faireth never the worse.
He did end his life in merry Manchester
And right honorable lieth he buried there
In his chapel, which he began of freestone
Sir John Stanley built it out when he was gone.
God send his soul to the heavenly company
Farewell godly James, Bishop of Ely."

His eldest son Sir John, knighted after the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513, had married the heiress of Handforth Hall in Cheshire.

Captain Gad Stanley in the Revolutionary War

Captain Gad Stanley was an early advocate of the American cause.  He was part of a committee in New Britain, Connecticut that went from house to house collecting provisions to be sent to Boston. 

In 1775, when British ships-of-war cannonaded Stonington and other coastal towns, couriers were dispatched among the colonies to warn them of their danger.  News that armed vessels had appeared off New London reached New Britain one Sunday afternoon at the close of the service.  Dr. Smalley had just left the pulpit and was urging support for the king.  But Stanley immediately stepped into the aisle and gave notice for his militia to meet next morning at the Parade.  

Captain Stanley later became Colonel Stanley on the field of battle.  In 1776 at the Battle of Long Island, he distinguished himself for his bravery and skill.  It had been disastrous day for the American forces, all of whom were raw recruits.  But Colonel Stanley maintained his position for as long as possible.  When the retreat was ordered, he succeeded through a clever maneuver in leading of his regiment safely past the British forces.

Stanley's China Hall

William B. Stanley opened Stanley’s China Hall on Richardson Street (now Main Street) in Columbia, South Carolina in 1849.  The store quickly prospered.  Its early history was covered in Dorothy Coker’s 2005 book Enterprising Merchants in Antebellum Columbia.  

The store survived the Civil War and continued successfully until 1926.  It offered a wide selection of housewares, including knives, kettles, and baskets.  These wares were to be found in the Colonia Hotel, the Jefferson Hotel, the University of South Carolina, the Children's Home, the State Hospital, the Ridgewood Club, and many other places.

The Stanley Cup

Lord Stanley of Preston, later to be the 16th Earl of Derby, was appointed Governor General of Canada in 1888.  When he and his family arrived there, they became quickly enthusiastic about ice hockey.  The Montreal Gazette reported that Lord Stanley "expressed his great delight with the game of hockey and the expertise of the players."  During that time, organized ice hockey in Canada was still in its infancy and only Montreal and Ottawa had anything resembling leagues.  

Two of his sons, Arthur and Algernon, soon formed a new team called the Ottawa Rideau Hall Rebels.  Arthur played a key role in the formation of what became known as the Ontario Hockey Association and would go on to be the founder of ice hockey in Great Britain.  He and Algernon then persuaded their father to donate a trophy to be "an outward and visible sign of the hockey championship."  

Soon afterwards, Lord Stanley purchased a decorative punch bowl made in Sheffield and had the words “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup" engraved on one side of the outside rim and "From Stanley of Preston" on the other side.  In 1894, in the first Stanley Cup Final game, the Montreal Hockey Club defeated the Ottawa Hockey Club by a score of 3-1.  By that time, however, Lord Stanley of Preston had had to return to England.

Stanley's Hotel in Macrae Flat

Tom Stanley from Kent, the son of a sea captain, was drawn to the gold mining town of Macraes Flat in Otago, New Zealand in the 1870’s.  He took over a ramshackle hotel there and decided to rebuild.

“He quarried stone from the hill behind the Catholic church, bringing it down by tip-dray, and engaged the stonemason from Hyde, an old salt called John Budge, to ‘build me an inn that will last.’

Budge, noted for his craftsmanship, his indolence, and his Falstaffian capacity for beer, erected an inn fit for a king.  It took him five years.  On some days he did not face a stone, succumbing to an invitation to “come and have one” before he put foot on the ladder.  His payment was wholly in beer. 

When in 1895 the Earl of Glasgow unexpectedly arrived for lunch at a newly completed stone inn, a satisfied mason was back in his home town reflecting on his consumption for his toils – seventy two hogsheads in all.”

Stanley's Hotel remained in the Stanley family until 1960.  It is now the only surviving hotel from the gold-boom period and is the most substantial building in Macraes Flat.  It outbuildings include a billiards room, stone shed, stables, and pig pen.

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