Spalding Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Spalding Surname Meaning

Spalding is a place name in the fens of south Lincolnshire, derived originally from the Spalding tribe who lived there.  Spalding appeared as a place name as Spallinge in the Domesday book of 1086 and Spaldingis in the Lincolnshire survey of 1115 and as a surname as Spalding in 1273.

The surnames Spalding and Spaulding are both to be found in America. Spauldings there outnumber Spaldings by roughly two to one.

Spalding Surname Resources on The Internet

Spalding and Spaulding Surname Ancestry

  • from England (East Anglia) and Scotland (Perthshire)
  • to America

England.  The first referenced Spalding individual was a Ralph de Spalding who was granted a property deed in 1273.  The wool merchant William de Spalding was elected to Parliament in 1327.   Peter Spalding was recorded at the border town of Berwick in 1318.

The Spalding name spread to Norfolk and Suffolk and larger numbers were recorded there than in Lincolnshire.  Spalding was already cropping up in Suffolk villages near Bury St. Edmonds and Framlingham in Elizabethan times.  By the early 1600’s the name was also to be found in London and further north in the town of York.

Scotland.  There was a Spalding clan in Scotland, taking its name from the Lincolnshire village of Spalding. The first of this clan was the Peter Spalding who helped the Scottish supporters of Robert the Bruce take Berwick in 1318.  As a reward, he was granted lands in Forfarshire (now Angus).

Prominent in later generations were the Spaldings of Ashintully in Perthshire.  However, in the 1700’s this family followed the Jacobite cause, lost their lands, and dispersed. Some of these Spaldings ended up in Georgia and Jamaica. Others had earlier departed for Sweden and Pomerania in Germany.  Andrew Spalding departed with his family to Michigan in 1843; and, forty years later, William Spalding left for Australia.

America. The first Spalding in America was an Edward Spalding from Lincolnshire who arrived at the Jamestown colony in 1619.  He survived the Indian uprising there but later sailed for New England where he became the progenitor of a large New England Spalding family:

  • one line went via Samuel Brown Spalding, a merchant in Vermont, to his son Samuel Gray Spaulding who headed West to start a tobacco manufacturing business in Chicago.
  • another line established itself in Pennsylvania where Simon and his son Harry distinguished themselves in the Revolutionary War and later led to Albert Goodwill Spalding, the well-known sporting personality.

Judge Charles Warren Spalding’s 1897 book The Spalding Memorial has traced the various descendants of the Spalding family.

Another Spalding line began with Thomas Spalding from Suffolk who was brought to Maryland as a young man by his cousin in 1657.  His descendants lived in Beaverdam Manor in St. Mary’s county.  After the Revolutionary War Thomas Spalding and his family migrated west to Kentucky.  He was Catholic and the Catholic Spaldings, Martin the Archbishop of Baltimore and his nephew John a co-founder of the Catholic University of America, came from this family.

The Scots Spalding connection in America began in 1760 when James Spalding came over to the new colony of Georgia and set up a trading post.  He had an eventful Revolutionary War.

“When war broke out he was jailed for a week by the patriots who made him pay a large sum of money to let him go and promise not to return to Georgia.  He fled to St. Augustine in Florida but returned to Georgia once the British retook Savannah.”

His son Thomas who settled on Sapelo island operated large cotton plantations there and was active in Georgia local politics between 1800 and 1850.  However, his line died out in the latter part of the 19th century.

Then there were the Presbyterian missionaries, Henry Spalding and his wife Eliza from upstate New York. They were among the first Americans to travel the great plains and along the Oregon Trail.  They worked with the Nez Perce Indians in what is now the state of Idaho.

Spalding Surname Miscellany

Spalding Origins.  The Lincolnshire village of Spalding on the fens of East Anglia was founded at the point where a road ran over the low country to the Wash.  The name appeared in Anglo-Saxon records as early as the 8th century, the first written record of Spalding being in a charter issued in 716 by King Athelbald to the monks of Crowland Abbey.

In Latin, Spall or Spald means “shoulder” and the town of Spalding meant literally “the tribe who live at the shoulder (of marsh land).”  Spalding was one of the Saxon divisions of Lincolnshire known as “the Spalda,” the Saxon suffix “ing” denoting sons of a family or tribe, and the people who lived in Spalding were known as the “Spaldingas” or the Spalding tribe.  This tribe was believed to have come from Flanders and to have held land in south Holland as early as the 7th century.

Spalding in medieval times was a market centre with two important industries, salt making and fisheries. Today it is known for its tulips and sausages.

Spaldings in York.  There was a family of Spaldings who were made freemen of York in the 17th century.  Their records show that they were a family of carpenters:

1633 Henry Spalding, carpenter
1662 Mathew Spaldinge, carpenter, son
of Henry Spaldinge
1672 Henry Spawlden, son of Henry
Spalden, carpenter
1689 Marcus Spaldinge, carpenter, son
of Mathew Spalton, carpenter
1702 Mathew Spalding, son of Mathew
Spalding, carpenter

Spaldings of Ashintully.  The Spaldings built Ashintully Castle near Blairgowrie in Perthshire in 1583 where they remained for the next hundred and fifty years.

Some of these Spaldings had a reputation for cruelty.  David Spalding, it was said, “condemned and executed many most unrighteously, particularly a man of the name of Duncan who was drowned in a sack in what is still called Duncan’s pool.”  A ghost which haunts the grounds is said to be that of a misshapen servant, known as “Crooked Dave” who was murdered by one of the Spaldings.  Another ghost is that of a tinker, hanged for trespassing on the grounds.  He cursed the family, warning that their line would soon come to an end.

The curse was made in the early 1700’s and soon came to pass.

Spaldings and Spaulding.  The spelling was Spalding in England and Scotland; and mainly Spalding for immigrants to America.  But once there Spaldings tended to add a “u” to their name.  The following is the approximate current distribution of the Spalding and Spaulding names.

Numbers (000’s) Spalding Spaulding
UK   3.7   –
America   3.2   6.4

According to some family records, the shift from Spalding to Spaulding (where it occurred) started sometime after the Civil War.

Edward Spalding in Virginia and Massachusetts.  In the spring of 1619 Edward Spalding boarded a ship in London that sailed for the Jamestown colony in Virginia. He had signed himself on as an indentured servant to pay for the cost of his voyage.

When he arrived there, it was recorded that he elected to obtain a wife from a selection of women who were described as “agreeable persons, young and incorrupt.”  Apparently the union was successful for in 1623 it was further recorded in the Virginia Colonist Record in a “List of the Living” that Edward Spalding with wife, son and daughter were living in the Jamestown colony.

Life in Jamestown was not idyllic.  In 1622 an Indian uprising resulted in the death of over 300 colonists and disease was still taking an enormous toil on the population.  One contemporary commentary on Edward Spalding stated that he finally departed Jamestown “after losing two young families.”

Whether or not this is true cannot be confirmed. However, it does appear that when he relocated to Massachusetts sometime in the late 1620’s he did so without children and possibly without a wife.  No doubt conditions in Jamestown were too much for him to bear.  By 1627 he had completed the terms of his indentureship and he must have concluded that there were better opportunities in Massachusetts.

By 1630 his name first appeared in the Braintree public records in Massachusetts and three years later it was recorded that a son was born to Edward and his wife Margaret.  Three other children followed.  In 1645 he and nineteen other petitioners were granted land to establish the town of Chelmsford.  He lived there until his death in 1670.

Albert G. Spalding and the Invention of Baseball.  At the turn of the century, few people were agreed on precisely how baseball had come to be.  In 1907 the sporting-goods tycoon Albert G. Spalding, formerly a major league pitching star, appointed a committee to investigate the game’s early history and settle once and for all where, when, and how baseball had originated.  Spalding’s unfounded belief was that baseball was a purely American phenomenon.

Most of the committee members quickly lost interest in the study and by year-end its chairman, former National League president A. G. Mills, was left working by himself.  Early in 1908 he submitted his findings to Spalding.  It was then that the Doubleday myth arose.  Doubleday, Mills wrote, invented baseball, diagramed and laid out the first diamond, and supervised the first games in Cooperstown, New York in 1839.  He was an instructor at a local military academy and the first players of the game were his students

Spalding liked the report for it meshed with his own notions of baseball’s fundamental Americanness.  But little in it had any basis in fact.  No one – neither Spalding, nor baseball historian Henry Chadwick, nor anyone else – had ever heard of Doubleday.

Doubleday, a prolific writer of magazine articles in the years following the Civil War, had never penned a single word about the game he supposedly invented, nor could Mills attribute a single quoted remark about baseball to Doubleday.  Significantly, Mills and Doubleday had been classmates at West Point and it is not unlikely that Mills used his report simply to honor his friend.

Spalding Names

  • John Spalding of Aberdeen was the author of a famous historical work, Memorials of the Troubles in Scotland and England from 1625 to 1642. The antiquarian society the Spalding Club was founded and named in his honor.
  • Albert Goodwill Spalding from Illinois was a 19th century baseball player and subsequently a well-known sporting personality and sporting goods manufacturer.

Spalding Numbers Today

  • 4,000 in the UK (most numerous in Pembrokeshire)
  • 9,000 in America (most numerous in Kentucky)
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).

Spalding and Like Surnames

Many surnames have come from East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) and surrounding areas in eastern England.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




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Written by Colin Shelley

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