Select Field Surname Genealogy

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 cultivation.  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 Fields are the main spellings today, Fields being the more common in America.

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Select Field Ancestry

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

  The Field name was to be found 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 Heaton manor. 

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

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

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 community. 

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 the 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 era.  

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 and historical writer who had four notable 19th century sons: 
  • David Dudley Jr, a US Congressman and law reformer 
  • 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.  
Another line led through Zechariah’s son John and three other Johns and a Massachusetts 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 Chicago. 

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 Hampshire after the Revolutionary War.  Daniel Field 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. 

Field 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 arrributed 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.  

  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. 

  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.

Select Field Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select 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 actress.

Select Fields 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)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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