Fielding Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Fielding Surname Meaning

The surname Fielding is of topographical origin, describing someone who lived on cleared land or open country. The name derived from the Old English feld meaning pasture or open country – that is land cleared of forest but not brought into cultivation.  

Early spellings were Felden and Fielden and sometimes Feilding. The related surname Fielder was only really to be found in the counties of SE England.

Fielding Surname Resources on The Internet

Fielding Surname Ancestry

  • from England (Lancashire)
  • to America and New Zealand

England.  The Fieldings (or Feildings) of Newnham Paddox near Rugby in Warwickshire claimed descent from the house of Habsburg through the counts of Laufenburg and Rheinfelden, but this has been shown to have been based on forged documents.

It was John Fylding who acquired the manor in 1433. Later Fieldings fought in the French wars, on the Lancastrian side in the War of the Roses, and were buried at the priory church of St. Edith’s at Monks Kirby. They were on both sides of the Civil War, Sir William Feilding falling on the Royalist side and his son Basil surviving on the Parliamentarian side. The family, ennobled at the time as the Earls of Denbigh, remains seated at Newnham Paddox.

Some Fieldings from this line were to be found in SW England:

  • Richard Fielding, a Bristol clergyman and merchant in the mid-1600’s. His sons held land in Northumberland county, Virginia.  
  • and Lieutenant Edmund Fielding, son of the canon of Salisbury, whose two sons – born in Sharpham Park near Glastonbury in Somerset – were Henry Fielding the famous 18th century novelist and his half-brother John. The two of them became London magistrates and helped found what some have called London’s first police force, the Bow Street Runners.

Lancashire. The largest number of Fieldings, however, was in the county of Lancashire. They accounted for more than half the Fieldings in the 1881 English census. Early records in Lancashire showed a Ralph Felding in 1276 and a Roger Fielden or Fielding, vicar of Leigh from 1557 to 1574.  

The alternative Fielden and Fielding spellings were still evident in Rochdale in the 1670’s. One family line began with the birth of James Fielding, son of Jonathan and Mary Fielding, at Bleakett Farm in Milnrow near Rochdale in 1745. A line of these Fieldings moved north to Middleton near Lancaster. James Fielding, born in Milnrow in 1817, was baptized into the Mormon church and left England for Salt Lake in Utah in 1854.

Fieldings were farmers at Middleton near Lancaster in the early 1800’s. Samuel Fielding left there for Gloucestershire in the 1860’s where he joined up with James Platt to form the engineering company of Fielding & Platt.

There were also Fieldings towards the Yorkshire border, at Oswaldwistle on the Lancashire side and Todmorden on the Yorkshire side. Those born in or near Halifax in Yorkshire included:

  • John Fielding (occupation unknown) born in 1759
  • Copley Fielding (watercolor painter) born in 1787
  • Abraham Fielding (merchant in Sowerby Bridge) born in 1790
  • and Daniel Fielding (Halifax brewer) born in 1827.

Daniel Fielding & Sons remained a Halifax brewer until they were bought out and closed down by Websters in 1961.

Fieldings in Glossop in the Derbyshire Peak District date from the late 1700’s. There were Fielding clockmakers and jewellers recorded in the town during Victorian times.

America. Three Fielding brothers from Bristol – Ambrose, Richard, and Edward – owned the Phoenix ship and came to Northumberland county, Virginia during the 1660’s.

Ambrose Fielding died there in 1675, a relatively prosperous planter. The Fieldings of colonial Virginia descended from him. Eppa Fielding fought in the Revolutionary War and his grandson Eppa was a soldier in the Confederate army during the Civil War.

Fieldings were also to be found in Hall county, Georgia and Pendleton county, South Carolina in the 1700’s.

New Zealand. William Feilding, a descendant of the Denbigh Feildings, came to New Zealand in 1871, with the intent of funding land for new settlers in the colony. The result was the township of Feilding near Wellington which was named after him.

Meanwhile Alfred Fielding and his family arrived on the Berar in 1874. He was from Jersey in the Channel Islands, the son of Francois and Marie Fielding, and a painter there. They settled near Wellington.

Fielding Surname Miscellany

Fieldings at Monks Kirby.  St. Edith’s at Monks Kirby in Warwickshire was formerly a priory church and was built to a huge scale. The aisled nave and chancel form one vessel with no structural division – all built of rich red sandstone except for the later upper part of the tower, giving it a distinctive two-toned red and white look.

The mid-16th century Fielding tombs are in its north east corner.  Sir William Fielding was buried in the chancel of the church under a raised tomb – whereon lies the effigies of a knight in armor, with his wife by him, both at full length, with a lion at their feet, and this inscription:

“Here lyeth the body of Sir William Fielding, knight, late of Paddox Newnham, who deceased the 24th day of September 1547; and of Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Sir Thomas Poultney, who deceased the 8th day of September 1539, who had issue two sons and one daughter.”

The Royalist William Feilding.  William Feilding’s fighting on behalf of the Royalist cause was valorous but unsuccessful.

He attended Prince Charles on the Spanish adventure, served as Admiral in the unsuccessful Cadiz Expedition in 1625, and commanded the disastrous attempt upon Rochelle in 1628.

On the outbreak of the Civil War, he served under Prince Rupert. However, in 1643, during Rupert’s attack on Birmingham, he was wounded and died from the effects on his wounds. His courage, unselfishness and devotion to duty at the time were much praised by the Earl of Clarendon.

Daniel Fielding & Sons.  Daniel Fielding was baptized at Ogden near Halifax in 1827.  His father died soon after and his mother remarried.  He became a farmer and a brewer.

His early brewing attempts through Hainsworth & Fielding failed in 1855 and he later set up his own brewing company Daniel Fielding & Sons.  The White Castle brewery was built at Bradshaw on the outskirts of Halifax.  On Daniel’s death in 1892, the running of the brewery passed to his two sons Eli and Samuel.

Fielding’s fine Bradshaw beers and naturally conditioned White Castle bottled ales continued to be produced at the brewery until 1961. 

Fieldings in the 1881 Census

County Numbers (000) Percent
Lancashire     3.7     57
Yorkshire     1.0     15
Elsewhere     1.8     28
Total     6.5    100

The largest numbers at that time were in Oldham and Blackburn.

Ambrose Fielding’s House in Virginia.  Ambrose Fielding’s house in Virginia had the following:

  • a “great room” containing “a dining table, a serving table, another small table, fourteen rush-bottom chairs, two chests, a cupboard, a bottle case and bottles, some linen, earthenware, glassware, pewter, two brass candlesticks, a silver bowl, and a silver tankard.”   
  • in one chamber there was ”a ‘great bed with damask canopy, curtains, silk counterpane, feather mattress, and blankets; two chairs, a chest, a pewter basin and ewer, a looking glass, a warming pan, and a brass candlestick.”  
  • in the parlor there were “two tables, twelve chairs, a couch, a cupboard, several books, a Turkey carpet, a pair of silver candlesticks, and four family portraits.”

It would seem that, after a spartan beginning, Virginia planters such as Ambrose Fielding did all right

Fielding Names

  • Sir Geffery de Felden, who took the name of Feilding, was the 13th century forebear of the Fieldings of Newnham Paddox. 
  • Henry Fielding was the 18th century English novelist, author of Tom Jones. 
  • Copley Fielding was a 19th century English watercolor painter. 
  • Alfred Fielding with his Swiss partner was the inventor of bubble wrap in New Jersey in 1957. 
  • Helen Fielding is the English writer best known for her creation of the Bridget Jones character.

Fielding Numbers Today

  • 10,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 2,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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Written by Colin Shelley

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