Field Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Field Meaning
The surname Field is topographical
in origin and described someone
who lived or worked on land
that had
been cleared of forest but not brought into
. The root is the Old
English feld meaning
“open pasture.” The German and Jewish
Feld names have similar roots, as has the Dutch Velde.
The Anglo-Norman de la
Field family gave rise to the Field and Delafield surnames. The early spelling could be Feld or
Feild.  Field and
are the
main spellings today, Fields being the more common in America.

Field Resources on

Field Ancestry

England. In England the Field name has been mainly
evident in Yorkshire and in the Home Counties around London.

Yorkshire The Field name was to be
in the West Riding of Yorkshire, starting with Roger Del Field who was
born at
Sowerby in the year 1240. The estate of
William Feld was administered in the West Riding in 1480.
John Field, an early English astronomer, was
born in Ardsley sometime in the 1520’s.
Zechariah Field departed Ardsley for New England in 1629. Other Fields in the area were wealthy
clothiers, owning estates in the early 1600’s at Great Horton and at

London John Feild or Field was a Puritan preacher in
London during Elizabethan times. One son
Theophilus became the Protestant Bishop of Landaff, another son Nathan
playwright and actor at the time of Shakespeare. Two
later Field families in London have been:

  • late
    17th century Field funeral directors,
    with a practice in Southwark. Descendants
    of the founding Field family remain on the Board
    of the present
    practice of C.P.J. Field & Co.
  • 18th
    century Field apothecaries, with a practice on Newgate Street. One son Barron took a judgeship post in
    Australia in 1816 and later wrote poetry, another son Frederick was a

Elsewhere John Field
“Of the Hill” lived in Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire during
times. His son Richard was the noted
Protestant theologian and writer. It was

“His ancestors were blessed with
length of days. His estate had been in
the hands of only three owners in 160

There was also a Field family on
the Bedfordshire/Hertfordshire border, around Barton and Hitchin,
recorded from
1641 to 1927. They held for many years Pulloxhill manor. These
Fields were mostly lawyers by profession and influential in their local

Ireland. The de la Fields
were Anglo-Norman
settlers found at Corduff near Dublin from the 14th century. Their best known member was probably Richard
Field, the 16th century Jesuit priest.
They relinquished their Corduff estates in the early 17th
century. Branches of the family had by
that time moved
to county Monaghan.

Another Field family
in Dublin was musical, beginning with John Field, a church organist in
mid-18th century, and followed by his son Robert Field, a violinist,
and by his
grandson John Field, a well-known composer and pianist of the Romantic

America. Zechariah Field came to New
England from Yorkshire in 1629
and eventually settled in Hatfield, Massachusetts.
His lineage was traced in F.C. Pierce’s 1901
book Field Genealogy. One
descendant via his son Zechariah was David Dudley Field, a clergyman
historical writer who had four notable 19th century sons:

  • David Dudley Jr, a US Congressman and law
  • Stephen, an
    Associate Justice
    of the US Supreme Court
  • Cyrus, a
    businessman who led the effort to lay the first Atlantic telegraph cable
  • and Henry who followed his father as a
    clergyman and writer.

line led through Zechariah’s son John and three other Johns and a
farm to the Marshall Field who founded the Marshall Field department
store in
Chicago. By the turn of the century
Marshall Field was the wealthiest and most powerful businessman in

Robert Field arrived in America
from Yorkshire around 1630, moved to Rhode Island and
became a Quaker. By 1645 he had
moved again to Flushing in Dutch New York.
Later Fields of this family moved north to Vermont and New
after the Revolutionary War. Daniel
settled in Springfield,
Vermont. The descendants of
Anthony and Hannah Burling Field have held regular reunions.

Fields also came to Virginia. Abraham
Field, born around 1636, was the
first recorded there. Later Fields
migrated to Kentucky and two of this family accompanied Lewis and Clark
on their
famous expedition in 1803 to the West.
Others settled in Indiana.

genealogy in England and America can be found in two recent books –
William S.
Field’s 2004 book Sweet Lands of Liberty and Warren J. Field’s
2011 book
Some Field Family Journeys.

Fields is the more common spelling to be
found in America today. Two early Fields
were the brothers Isaac and William Fields who arrived from Scotland in
1742 and settled in Bald Mountain, North Carolina. Later Fields
of the family migrated to Alabama.

Richard Fields, born in 1780, appeared as an emissary to the Cherokee
tribes in Tennessee in 1801 and later served them in their skirmishes
with the Mexicans in Texas.

“The Fields family had the reputation as
being the handsomest and laziest family in the Cherokee nation, the
laziness being attributed to the fact that they were great book lovers
and indulged this taste in preference to manual labor.”

Richard fell foul of them after a while and was executed by them in
1827. His son Ezekiel moved to what is now Oklahoma. He too
met an unfortunate end, being caught in a prairie fire in 1870.

Canada. George Field
was a United Empire Loyalist
from Long Island who served with Butler’s Rangers during the
Revolutionary War
and followed Butler to Canada afterwards.
Field House, built by his son Gilbert, was one of the first
brick homes
in the Niagara area. The property
remained with the Field family until 1925.

Patrick Field from county Cork in Ireland arrived with Peter Robinson’s
settlers in 1823 and settled in Huntley township, Quebec.
Other Irish Fields came to Gatineau at the
time of the famine. Their settlement,
now a village, was called Fieldville.

Australia. Tom and
Herbert Field emigrated
with their parents from Kent to Sydney in 1885.
The two brothers became the leading wholesale meat marketers in
the city
by the time of the First World War. Tom
was the more reserved and died early from a heart attack.
He left a large fortune. Herbert
was the more extravagant and
flamboyant. On his death in 1955 he left
much less, little more than 15% of the estate of his brother.


Field Miscellany

The de la Field Family.  The Anglo-Norman de la Field
family can be traced back to the 11th century and an area called Colmar
Alsace Lorraine in northern France.
Their ancestral castle was positioned on a pass in the Vosges
Mountains.  Some ruins of the castle and
chapel still

These de la Fields crossed the
Channel.  Hubert de la Field was first
recorded in Buckinghamshire in the 12th century.  Simon
at Field moved to Sussex, giving his
name to Field Place where the poet Shelley was born.
John Felde was sheriff of London in 1454.They were to be found in Ireland from about
the year 1200.  There was one early line
at Glynsurd near Dublin and they were to be found at Corduff from the
century.  They were also at Fieldstown in
county Meath and at various locations in county Monaghan.
These de la Fields in Ireland tended to
become Fields.

Related de la Fields at
Westcote and Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire in England became Delafields.

The Fields of Pulloxhill Manor.  For generations the Field
men of Pulloxhill manor tended
to marry late and often to much younger
women.  In 1694
the age difference was about 15 years.  In 1730
Thomas Field had his only son when he
was 36.  John
Field died in 1759 aged 63 but his widow was still alive in 1787. Thomas Field married in 1840 when
he was about 63 and his bride 27 and his brother Charles married when
he was
about 40.  In the
last direct generation, they left things a tad too long and none
of them married at all.

Robert Field’s Ancestry.  Robert Field was one of the
early English settlers in Dutch New York, having settled in Flushing in
what is
now Brooklyn by 1645.  He came from a
Yorkshire family in Sowerby which has been traced back to Christopher
Feld who
died there in 1509.  The line from him
ran to: 

  • John Feld who died in 1520
  • Christopher Field who married Grace
    Gradeheigh and died in 1554
  • William Field who married Susan Midgley and died
    in 1619
  • and Robert Field who was
    fourteen when his father died and who came to America in 1630

Zechariah Field in America.  Zechariah Field was the ancestor of a large proportion of the families of that
name, not only in New England but overall in the United States.
He was in Boston and Dorchester and moved thence to Hartford,
Connecticut, going through the wilderness to the Connecticut river
where he was one of the first settlers.

owned large tracts of land there, some of which are now in the heart of
the city of Hartford.  His residence was on Sentinel Hill, to the
north end of Main Street.

1644 dissensions arose in the church which could not be successfully
reconciled.  He, along with others of the early settlers,
purchased into some nine square miles of land lying north of Mount
Holyoke.  Field settled in the part now named Northampton.
In 1661 a grant was given to him in the part now known as Hatfield, to
which place he moved and passed the remainder of his days.

is no evidence that Zechariah Field the immigrant was related to John
Field, the Yorkshire astronomer. A later Field, Osgood Field, wrote:

for the assertion in the pamphlet that John Field, son of the
Astronomer, had a son named Zechariah, and that William and John Field,
the early settlers of Rhode Island, were sons of William and grandsons
of the Astronomer, they are not entitled to the slightest credence, not
being supported by a shade of evidence.”

Daniel Field in Vermont.  Daniel Field was born in Rhode Island and moved with
his family to Springfield, Vermont sometime in the 1770’s.
settled in what
is now known as the
Field Place, at
the mouth of Field Brook,
and the family were living there at the time the Indians burned
Royalton in 1780.

He was
commonly called
“Quaker Field” from the fact that he always wore the Quaker style of
dress even though
he was never a member of the sect. His word was always sacredly
kept. When the term of service of the Rhode Island troops was about to
in the army, Washington went among them and personally besought them to
re-enlist, as it was the darkest time of the Revolution. Daniel Field
would not enlist, but told Washington he would stay a month
longer.  Washington
replied, with
thanks, saying: “your
word is as good as your bond.”

her husband was absent working at the
forge in the winter to pay for the farm, Mrs. Field lived alone with
her two
children in the Vermont forests. Wild animals, especially black bears,
and catamounts, were there aplenty.  Once she
scared a
huge panther from her door and another time she heard the fierce howls
of what
proved to be a pack of wolves that came up to the yard near the house,
After a
half hour fighting with the oxen, the wolves galloped off and left them.

Shortly her husband
returned.  Daniel
carried on
blacksmithing in the shop on the brook until near the time of his
death.  His son
Arthur followed the business after his
father’s death in 1834. 

Field and Fields.  The
Field/Fields divide in the UK is approximately 85/15 today.  Fields have been found primarily down the East Coast of England,
starting in Yorkshire and running through Lincolnshire into
Norfolk.  In the 1881 British census, the main place for Fields
was Sheffield.

In the US, the Fields spelling is more predominant today, outnumbering
Field by roughly three to one.  Fields is proportionately stronger
in the South.



Field Names

  • John Field was a 16th century English astronomer.
  • Marshall Field was the
    founder of
    the founder of the Chicago-based Marshall Field
    department store.
  • Gracie Fields, born Grace Stansfield, was a popular music hall artist from Rochdale.   
  • W.C. Fields, born W.C. Dukenfield, was a misanthropic American comedian. 
  • Sally Field is a well-known American

Select Field Numbers Today

  • 28,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 44,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 22,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Field and Like Surnames

These names are locational, describing someone who lived in those medieval times by the side of a bank, or by a barn or a lane or a shaw (which means a wood) or a wood and so forth.  Both the oak tree and the ash tree have in fact provided locational surnames – Oakes and Nash (from atten Ash).  Here are some of these locational surnames that you can check out.




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