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The Origin and Distribution of the Gloucestershire Dangerfield's: Part 1
Posted 11 March 2008
By Howard Mathieson

Early sixteenth century parish records point to Stonehouse in the Stroudwater valley of Gloucestershire as the home of the Dangerfield's. However medieval land charters suggest that the region surrounding Berkeley Castle was in fact the place of earliest settlement. Part one of the article will present the early settlement evidence and will attempt to narrow the time period during which the Dangerfield's relocated from the Berkeley heartland to the Stroudwater valley. Part two of the series will examine the more intriguing question, why did they move?

There can be little doubt the Dangerfield surname is Norman in origin. However the time of its arrival in England is not precisely known. P.H. Reaney in The Dictionary of British Surnames alerts us to William de Angeruill, found in the 1205 Pipe Rolls of Dorset. However the surname does not appear to have taken root in Dorset.

A land charter dated 1217, held by the Cartulary of St Augustine's Abbey Bristol, references Walter de Angervillis as a witness. The charter concerns Hugh of Bradley who sold land in Wotton Under Edge to Juliana de Pontdelarch, wife of Robert de Berkeley, for 7 marks and a horse worth half a mark. The Cartulary reference alerts us to the fact that the de Angervil's were active in the region surrounding Berkeley Gloucestershire where a remarkable archive has been maintained.

Unfortunately direct access to the Berkeley muniment room is not possible. None the less, over the centuries significant numbers of documents were removed in a variety of political squabbles, lootings and family intrigues. Many of these records found there way into private collections. They were eventually recovered, and now reside in public record offices and archives. The Access to Archives project (A2A), has indexed large volumes of these materials. Additionally John Smyth, appointed in 1596 as family archivist and historian, contributed valuable material gleaned from his access to the muniment room. Notably is a Berkeley history, Lives of the Berkeleys, and on the instruction of the Berkeley's he compiled a military survey entitled Gloucestershire men of Armour. Collectively with the aid of these and other sources we are able to construct brief glimpses of the early distribution of the Dangerfield family.

Beginning in the late 13th century a Ralph, Thomas, Hugh and William de Angervil(le) were involved in land transactions either as witnesses to Berkeley family charters, or as grantors of property to others. A series of transactions involving the Gold family enable us to determine Hugh and William de Angerville were brothers. Similarly a grant by Thomas, link Thomas William and Ralph:
    Thomas has granted to William a croft in the vill of Wike called Mabeliecroft, lying between the land of Thomas's father Ralph de Angerville called Newerudinge and the land which Everard Mundegune once held; rent a rose a year, and William has given him 16s., and to Joan his wife a falcon.
John Smyth provides further evidence of the families association with the hamlet of Wick, and of the surnames continuity in the region surrounding Berkeley in the 14th century. He observed in Lives of the Berkeley's:
    The hamlet of Dangervills Wicke, anciently written de Angervill, is an ancient messuage with divers lands thereto belonging, containing 52 acres, some parts whereof are in Nibley. Before were the lands of John son of Richard Dangervill, and before of Henry son of Roger Dangervill, held of the Manor of Alkington for 1/50 part of a knight's fee, suit of court and 2s. 6d. rent. Which Thomas Lord Berkeley gave by deed in 8 Edw. II (1314) to Nicholas Dangervill and the heirs of his body. "From the surname of which family of the Dangervills this place lying in Wike hath taken its name."
The mention of five generations would likely extend their tenure into the 15th century. Interestingly while Smyth refers to Nicholas Dangerville, in 18 land transactions between 1311 and 1319, the Berkeley archive spells the surname Daungervil(le). Two late14th century References (Daungervil) near Wotton under Edge alert us to the survival of the surname in the post plague years. These references fall somewhat outside the cluster of late 13th and early 14th transactions which are located within a two mile radius of Berkeley. (Note: map shown above.

A Military Survey compiled in 1522 confirms the shift away from "Dangervil Wicke". Nearby in North Nibly the survey lists a Thomas Daungerfeld. Bear in mind that part of the 1314 grant to Nicholas Daungervil(le) was found in Nibley. Much more significant was the presence of a second Thomas Daungerfeld in Stonehouse some 12 miles to the northeast.

From this time forward the family would no longer be focused in the region surrounding Berkeley Castle but it would ramify and become concentrated in the Stroudwater valley. This new reality would continue well into the 19th century and in fact Dangerfield's are found in the area to this day.

It is possible to narrow the time frame during which the relocation took place. We are fortunate that manorial court records for the Stonehouse Ham exist for the period 1490 to 1535. Within the rich pages of these documents are scattered references to the Daungerfeld surname.

For example a Thomas Daungerfeld appeared both as a juror and plaintiff on numerous occasions. In 1495 he was brought before the Manor court with View of Frankpledge and a charge was made "that the ditch between himself and John Andreux have become worse by their neglect, to whom the order is made to scour them well and sufficiently before the next court under a penalty of forfeit…". In 1491 a charge was made that Thomas Daungerfeld and others "entered the closed fields with their animals before the accustomed time".

As the 1522 military survey transcribed the name as "Daungerfeld" in both regions, it is likely that the Daungerfeld form of the surname had evolved prior to its relocation. Therefore the evolution of the surname's spelling might be used to identify the time after which the Daungerfelds relocated. During the 13th century the surname was always preceded by the preposition "de". Charters in the early 14th century fused the preposition and the prefix became "Daunger". However the suffix was variously spelled vil or ville and not "feld"or "field". Consequently it should be noted that the family surname was expressed as Daungervil(le) during the 14th century.

A late 14th century example can be cited. In 1384 Maude of Coombe sold property in Wortley (near Wotton Under Edge) and Adam Dangerville, a Chaplin, is a party to the transaction. This is likely the same Adam Daungervil who served a rector in nearby St Mary's Cricklade in Wiltshire from 1402 to 1407. Based on this evidence we can speculate that the "Daungerfeld" surname likely transferred to the Stroudwater Valley after the beginning of the 1400's, but clearly before the onset of the 1490's.

It is worth noting the fifteenth century was in fact a period of heightened personal mobility. The plague years continued to impact the economy. Labour shortages had resulted in rising wages and the open field system of customary labour was gradually being replaced with a wage based system. In order to maximize returns in a period of labour shortage, manorial authorities or their agents turned increasingly to grazing and this was particularly the case in Gloucestershire where sheep gazing was a well established practice.

Part two of the article examines the more complex issue of why the Daungerfelds moved from Berkeley to the Stroudwater valley.

Part One >  Part Two

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