The Clan/Sept History
Ireland already had an established system of hereditary surnames when the
Strongbownians arrived. Often the two traditions blended together quite well due
to some of their basic similarities, but the incoming Anglo-Norman system
brought in some forms that were uncommon amongst the Irish. One of these
Anglo-Norman anomalies was the prevalence of local surnames, such as Sarsfield.
Local names were taken from the names of a place or a geographical feature where
the person lived, held land, or was born. Originally, the place names were
prefixed by de, which means from in French. This type of prefix was eventually
either made a part of the surname if the place name began with a vowel or was
eliminated entirely. The local surnames of these Strongbownian invaders referred
to places in Normandy, or more typically England, but eventually for those
Anglo- Normans that remained in Ireland, the nicknames referred to places or
geographical features of the island: they became true local names. The Sarsfield
family appears to have originally lived in either of the settlements named
Sarnesfield in the English counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The
surname Sarsfield belongs to the large category of Anglo-Norman habitation
names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes,
or farmsteads. The Gaelic form of the surname Sarsfield is Sáirséil.
During the Middle Ages, a single person often had their name recorded by church
officials and scribes many different ways. Names were typically spelt as they
sounded, which resulted in many different spelling variations. The many versions
of the name Sarsfield to have been recorded over the years include: Sarsefield,
Sarnesfield, Sarsfield, Sharisfield, Sarisfield, Sarisfell, Sarsfell, Sarnesfell
and many more.
First found in county Cork, where they were granted lands by Strongbow, Earl of
Pembroke, for their assistance in the invasion of Ireland in 1172.
Ireland's Great Potato Famine left the country's inhabitants in extreme poverty
and starvation. Many families left their homeland for North America for the
promise of work, freedom and land ownership. Although the Irish were not free of
economic and racial discrimination in North America, they did contriBute greatly
to the rapid development of bridges, canals, roads, and railways. Eventually,
they would be accepted in other areas such as commerce, education, and the arts.
An examination of immigration and passenger lists revealed many bearing the name
Sarsfield: Will Sarsfield settled in Georgia in 1734; Monarch Sarsfield arrived
in Philadelphia in 1871.
Motto Translated: Virtue not changed.
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