Stone Surname Meaning, History & Origin
The surname Stone comes from the Old English stan meaning “stone.” It could describe someone who lived on stony ground or by a stone marker; or it could derive from a place-name of Stone (of which there were many in England). An eminent Stone befitting the name was Nicholas Stone, the 17th century master mason to James I and Charles I.
Stone Resources on
- Stone Family Documents
Stones from Clayhanger in Devon.
- Wedmore Genealogy Pages. Stones of Wedmore in
- Stone Families of Ireland. John Stone, born in 1546, and other Stones.
- Stone Quarry. James Stone from Tennessee to Texas.
- Stone DNA Project. Stone DNA.
England. Early spellings were Stanes, Stane and Ston. The Stone name had no geographic focus and sprung up in various parts of the country. Stone families from the 16th century included:
- the Stones of Trevigo in Cornwall
- the Stones of Wedmore in Somerset
- the Stones of Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire
- the Stones of Bedingham Hall in Norfolk
- and the Stones of Croston in Lancashire (from whence came William Stone, early emigrant to America).
Stone, originally atte Stone, has been traced back to Ardleigh and Great Bromley in Essex in the early 1400’s. This line produced the Puritan Gregory Stone who emigrated to New England in 1635. There were also Stones at Clayhanger in Devon, beginning with Richard Stone, yeoman, who was born there in the late 1570’s.
William Stone from Segenho in Bedfordshire trained as a haberdasher and prospered in London in the 1580’s. The family made enough money that Thomas Stone was able to build his country pile, Carr House, in 1613 at Hoole in Lancashire. Meanwhile, later in the 18th century, London-born Andrew Stone was an influential figure in royal circles; while his brother George, having taken holy orders, was Primate for All Ireland.
The 1881 distribution of the Stone name showed it spread around the country, with clusters around London and the southeast, in the west country, and in Lancashire.
Ireland. Stones in Derry date back to 1566 with the birth of Richard Stone there. William and Jane Stone emigrated from there
to South Carolina in the 1770’s.
America. Early arrivals were into New England and Virginia:
New England. Early Stones in New England were:
- Simon Stone and his brother Gregory who arrived on the Increase in 1635. Simon settled in Watertown and Gregory in Cambridge. A descendant of Gregory’s, David Stone, grew up in North Carolina and was Senator and Governor of that state in the early 1800’s. J.G. Bartlett’s 1917 book Gregory Stone Genealogy covered his line.
- Hugh Stone who came to Rhode Island on the Deborah as a young lad in 1657. He lived on in Rhode Island until 1723, dying in Providence at the age of ninety. The family history was covered in Richard Stone’s 1866 book Genealogy of the Stone Family.
- and another Hugh Stone who married Hannah Foster in Andover, Massachusetts in 1666. In 1689 Hugh Stone murdered his wife by cutting her throat in a drunken rage and was hanged on Gibbet Plain.
Virginia and the South. William Stone, born into a Lancashire merchant family, had come to Virginia as a young man in 1628 and succeeded as a merchant and a planter there. He then left Virginia for the new colony of Maryland and was appointed its governor in 1648 after having drawn Protestant settlers there. As
a reward he was granted “as much land as he could ride around in a day.”
More than a hundred years later his great grandson Thomas was a signer of the Declaration of Independence as the representative for Maryland; while brother John was Governor of Maryland from 1794 to 1797 and other Stones played prominent roles in the civic life of Maryland at that time. Charles Stone’s 1951 book The Stones of Surry traced the line from Enoch Stone.
Stones were later prominent in Mississippi as planters. William Stone was one of the first settlers of Panola county, arriving there from Kentucky; J.H. Stone came to Tremont from Alabama; and Asher and Judith Stone to Tishomingo county from Virginia via Tennessee. Their son John Marshal Stone, who fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War, became Mississippi’s Governor and, with his two terms of service, its longest-running Governor.
Canada. There were early records of a probable Loyalist, David Stone, in New Brunswick in the 1780’s. John Stone of English ancestry arrived from Ireland in 1820, married and settled to farm first in Elizabethtown and then in Orford, Ontario. One son Frederick became a lawyer, another Thomas ran a dry goods store. A grandson Thomas became one of Canada’s foremost diplomats.
Australia. The Stone name is very much attached to the early history of Western Australia. Alfred and George Stone had come out to the Swan river settlement in the early 1830’s as lawyers. George’s son Edward Stone was a long-serving judge of the colony. He wrote his memoirs Some Old-Time Memories in 1918.
John and Harriet Stone arrived in Queensland from Devon in 1866. A descendant is Shane Stone, chief minister of the Northern Territories.
New Zealand. Benjamin Stone, born in Essex, enlisted in the British army with the 70th Regiment and served in India. On his discharge in 1861 he set sail on the Daniel Rankin for Auckland. He died there in 1889.
Nicholas Stone, Master Mason. Nicholas Stone was born in 1586 in Devon, probably at Woodbury near Exeter, the son of a quarryman. His father died in 1617, according to this plaque in Sidbury church:
- “An epitaph upon the life and death of John Stone, freemason,
- Who departed this life on the first of January, 1617
- And lyeth here under buried.
- On our great corner stone this Stone relied,
- For blessing to his building loving most,
- To build God’s Temples, in which works he died, and lived the Temple, of the Holy Ghost,
- In whose loved life is proved and honest fame, God can of
Stones raise seed to Abraham.”
Nicholas moved to London and served for two years as an apprentice and for a further year as a journeyman under the sculptor Isaac James. Then he quickly established a successful workshop in London. He was appointed master mason to James I in 1619 and to Charles I in 1626. He was the mason responsible for the building of Inigo Jones’ Banqueting Hall in Whitehall.
By the end of the 1620’s he had become England’s leading sculptor in stone and marble. He retained this pre-eminence until the end of his working life at the outbreak of the Civil War in the 1640’s.
Stones in Wedmore, Somerset. The villagers
of Wedmore were keen single stick players.
Single stick could be a brutal game as the stick was used to
beat the opponent’s head which he tried to protect with the guard on his left hand.
Among the players were the sons of Edward
Stone, the village butcher who lived between 1760 and 1840. There were also the brothers William and John
Stone Wall, the offspring of the marriage of Jeremiah Wall and Ann Stone.
The Stone name in Wedmore can be traced back to the early 1400’s.
Edward Stone of Princes Risborough. The Stones had been farming in Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire from the time of Ralph Stone in 1580. They might be described as well-to-do gentleman farmers, affluent enough to be able to send their son to Oxford University. Edward Stone graduated there in 1720 and later served as a chaplain and Justice of the Peace in Oxfordshire.
He had a scientific bent to him, which he used to experiment with wild barks. He gathered and dried a pound of willow bark,
creating a powder which he gave to about fifty persons. It was consistently found to be a ‘powerful astringent and very efficacious in curing agues and intermitting disorders.’ He had discovered salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin. In 1763 he sent a letter announcing his discovery to the President of the Royal Society. The letter survives to this day.
William Stone’s Escapades in Maryland. William Stone and his wife Verlinda came to Maryland in 1648. With civil war still raging in England and with many new Protestant settlers in Maryland, Lord Baltimore wanted to appoint a Protestant Governor. He chose William Stone, probably to reward Stone for promising to bring hundreds of settlers to Maryland. Stone served as Governor for six years until the time the radical Puritans gained control of the government and began to pass laws which restricted religious freedom.
Stone decided to fight back. He organized
about a hundred supporters and
marched against the rebels in the Battle of Severn. He
was greatly outnumbered and, after losing
nearly half his men and being wounded in the shoulder, Stone
surrendered. He was made a prisoner and
held for over a month.
While he was in captivity, his wife Verlinda tried to help him by writing to Lord Baltimore. She made sure the proprietor knew exactly what happened so he could protect both her husband and the colony. Stone was eventually released from prison and resumed his position as Governor. He died in 1660, leaving 14,950 pounds of tobacco for his wife and seven children.
Hugh Stone of Andover. Hugh Stone of Andover had a record for drunkenness. The records of Essex county, Massachusetts showed him fined on three occasions between 1682 and 1685 for being drunk. In 1689 he went too far. The following was an account of what happened, written by the Rev. Cotton Mather in 1698:
“One Hugh Stone, upon a quarrel between himself and his wife about selling a piece of land, having some words as they were walking together on a certain evening, very barbarously reached a stroke at her throat with a sharp knife; and by that one stroke fetched away the soul of her who had made him a father of several children and would have yet brought another to him if she had lived a few weeks longer in the world. The wretched man was too soon surprised by his neighbors to be capable of denying the fact and so he pleaded guilty at his trial.
There was a minister that walked with him to his execution.
He was by the prayers of the minister
recommended for divine mercy. Which
being done the poor man poured out a few broken ejaculations, in the midst of which he was turned over into that eternity which we must leave him in.”
A Murder Case Recalled by Sir Edward Stone. Edward
Stone was a long-serving judge of the colony of Western Australia, and later its Lieutenant Governor. His
memoirs included the following gruesome case:
“On a later occasion, when I visited Geraldton as a puisne judge to hold circuit court, a tribal murder case came up for judgment. The late Mr. Bob Skinner was my associate.
There was a most abominable stench in the
court and I told Mr. Skinner I could sit there no longer unless the nuisance was removed, whatever it might be. Mr.
Skinner replied: “Please your Honor, they have the native’s remains in a bag under my table.”
Presumably the corpse of the dead black fellow had been brought along on the same principle as
the half brick is produced in an assault case. At
any rate both the remains and the accused
were soon disposed of, the latter being acquitted on some technical point.”
Select Stone Names
- Benjamin Stone established the earliest known English sword factory, at Hounslow Heath just outside London, in the early 1600’s.
- The Rev. Edward Stone was an 18th century clergyman who discovered the active ingredient in aspirin.
- Thomas Stone was a signer of the US Declaration of Independence as the representative for Maryland.
- Izzy Stone, born Isador Feinstein in Philadelphia, was an iconoclastic American investigative journalist, best-known for his self-published newsletter I.F. Stone’s Weekly.
- Oliver Stone is a prominent American film director.
- Sharon Stone is an American actress, best known for her role in the erotic thriller Basic Instinct.
- Roger Stone is an American political operative of dubious morals whose Republican clients have spanned from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump.
Select Stone Numbers Today
- 52,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 55,000 in America (most numerous in California)
- 29,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
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