Sunday, February 28, 2010

Question from Merlin - Name of Ferdinando Stanley

I have a query about Ferdinando Stanley (great grandson of Mary 'Rose' Tudor via her daughter, Eleanor). Why the name 'Ferdinando'? It seems most un-English and unusual. Does anyone have any information about how or why the name was chosen?

[I have to admit that I've always wondered about that too! - Lara]


  1. Yes, his name is curious isn't it. I asked an historian researching the Spencer women (Ferdinando was married to Alice Spencer) if she had any idea but she hadn't.

    Some historians assume that as Ferdinando's religious outlook was in question from time to time that his name somehow reflected his parents' Catholicism. Ferdinando was born in 1559 which is the same year that marriage between Queen Elizabeth and the Archduke Ferdinand was being discussed in earnest - at least amongst the Spanish. So it is possible that this inspired the use of the name.

    It turns out Ferdinando was a name within the family since at least the 14th century. Previous earls of Derby (one a son of John of Gaunt) traveled throughout Italy. There was also a marriage alliance with a noble family from Castile.

    It is possible that the convergence of the 1559 marriage discussion and family heritage inspired the use of Ferdinando at that moment. The Oxford DNB artilce has no mention of the origins of the name in this instance.

  2. Oddly, I just came across 2 more Ferdinandos today when I was reading the Calendar of State Papers Domestic Series 1, Edward VI, Mary Elizabeth, 1547-1580. (this is how we know I'm a history geek - I was reading this to relax)

    See p.79, item 5, April 10, 1556 "Memorandum of conversations of Stanton with John Danyell and Ferdinando Lygons, relative to Henry Dudley." (I don't profess to know who these people are although Henry Dudley may be John Dudley's son and brother to Robert Dudley)

    See also p.511 Ferdinando Richards.[Indorsed a document]

  3. Interesting... so maybe not quite so rare a name?

  4. Facinating stuff- thanks all. As you say, Lara, perhaps not so rare a name after all.

  5. Not a rare name at all! From the "Household Accounts" of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (edited by Simon Adams; Camden Fifth Series) it's clear he had a personal servant named Ferdinando (Richardson alias Heybourne) from c. 1575, who later entered the Queen's service. An MP named Ferdinando Clarke was one of his gentlemen (p. 483).

  6. As far as I can tell, it was extremely rare amongst Elizabethan elites. I think this still needs more research. But...


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