For L'Estourmi, the true version of the name, as given on the Dives Roll; without any doubt a sobriquet, and, I am bound to add, to me, at least, incomprehensible. In England the first letter was often dropped, and it became Sturmy, Sturmid (as in Domesday), Stormey, Sturmer, Sturmyn, &c, while in Normandy it has survived to the present day as Etourmy. Jean L'Estourmi, a younger brother of the two companions-in-arms of the Conqueror, had remained at home; and became the ancestor of "a family that from the most remote antiquity held a high rank among the nobles of the province."—Nobiliaire de Normandie. In the seventeenth century they were Seigneurs de St. Privat; and in 1721 of Joinville. They bear D'azur a une fontaine d'argent, surmontee d'un renard couche de mime. Nothing can well be more unlike the coat of the English house: Argent, three demi-lions rampant Gules.

The two brothers who came over at the Conquest, Richard and Ralph, were both land-owners in 1086; Richard, as the elder, held of the King, and Ralph as a mesne-lord under him in Hants, Wilts, and Surrey. Cowsfield-Esturmy in Wiltshire, and Lysse-Sturmy, in Hampshire, were two of his manors. His descendants continued, for a long succession of generations, Foresters in fee of Savernake. "The Esturmies," says Camden, "from the time of King Henrie the Second were by right of inheritance the Bailiffes and Guardians of the Forest of Savernac lying hard by, which is of great name for plentie of good game, and for a kinde of Ferne there, that yeeldeth a most pleasing savour. In remembrance thereof, their Hunter's horn of a mighty bignesse and tipt with silver, the Earle of Hertford keepeth unto this day, as a monument of his progenitors." They founded the Hospital of the Holy Trinity at Easton, near Marlborough, where a Master (appointed at their presentation to the Bishop), was bound to have his "continual residence, to keep hospitality, and to find five priests to say daily masses for the founder's souls." Besides this "great inheritance" in Wiltshire, they possessed in Hampshire "large holdings at Odiham, Dogmersfield, Winchfield, and Elvetham. In 1206 Henry Esturmy paid at Porchester sixty out of one hundred capons promised in consideration of leave to break up land at Culefield; and in 1280 another Henry was summoned to show warrant for his taking the assize of bread and beer at Elvetham, and pleaded that his ancestors had enjoyed the privilege since the time of King Richard I."—Woodward's Hampshire. A third Henry, who was Sheriff of Wilts in 1362, and married Margaret, daughter and co-heir of Sir John de L'Ortie of Axford, was the father of the last of the line, Sir William Esturmy of Chedham and Wolfs Hall, living temp. Richard II. His only daughter Maud married Roger Seymour, ancestor of the Dukes of Somerset, to whom the great domain of the Esturmies thus accrued. His descendants, transplanted into Wiltshire from their distant home on the Welsh border, held it close upon three hundred years. At length, on the death of William, third Duke of Somerset, who died unmarried in 1671 at the early age of twenty, it passed to his only surviving sister, Lady Elizabeth. She became the wife of Thomas Bruce, second Earl of Aylesbury and third Earl of Elgin, and died in childbed in 1696, leaving a son and a daughter. The son left no heir-male, and at his death in 1747 the estates devolved on the youngest son of his sister, Elizabeth, Countess of Cardigan, who was created Earl of Ailesbury. When the second Earl received a Marquessate in 1821, he took the title of Viscount Savernake, from the magnificent forest over which the Esturmies had so long held sway.

The family was represented in many other parts of England—in the Eastern Counties, in Worcestershire, Shropshire, and Yorkshire. In Shropshire, "the first of this race," says Eyton, "that occurs to my notice is Hugh Esturmi, amerced five marks in 1176 for trespass in the Forests of Worcestershire." This Hugh Esturmi came from Sussex, where his father exchanged some land near Chichester with the Earl of Arundel; and Hugh himself received from the same Earl—William de Albini, the first of the name—a grant of half a knight's fee in Offham.—v. Dallaway's Sussex. There is no further mention of the family in Sussex, and their connection with Shropshire had ceased in the first part of the fourteenth century. Stanford-Sturmy and Sutton-Sturmy bear their name in Worcestershire. "We find in the old White Book of the Bishopric, Willielmus Esturmy tenet Rushoke de dono domini Regis. They continued in possession in the reign of Ed. I., when Geoffrey Sturmy held it of the barony of William de Beauchamp, and it belonged to many lords of that name. Laurence Sturmy is reported in the Exchequer to have had it 28 Ed. I.; it then descended to Harry Sturmy, and 20 Ed. III. to Henry Sturmy his heir. Sutton-Sturmy was in early ages the habitation of that Sturmy who distinguished himself by his zeal for the recovery of the Holy Land, and is buried in Tenbury church. This memorable name of Sturmy ended in Rushoke 7 Hen. VI., and the lands were dispersed among the general heirs of Henry Sturmy."—Nash's Worcestershire. Robert Sturmy was knight of the shire in 1309 and 1315; and summoned for service against the Scots in 1322.

The Yorkshire Esturmies (there, again, abbreviated to Sturmy) were Lords of Dromonby, in Cleveland, for four generations; their heiress married a younger son of Sir Robert Constable of Flamborough.—Grave's Cleveland. William Sturmy, in 1316, was joint Lord of Worsall, Faceby, and Skutterskelfe in Yorkshire.—Palgrave's Parliamentary Writs. At the same date, and in the same record, we find John Sturmy, joint Lord of Stratton and Thorp, Fritton, Skelton, and Hardwick; and Walter Sturmy, joint Lord of Surlingham, Rockwell, and Brandon; both in Norfolk. John was Admiral of the Fleet in 1325. Robert le Sturmy had received Stratton by grant from the Malherbes; "and gave his name to Sturmyn's or Sturmer's Manor, of which his son was Lord in 1262. The heiress of this family, Anne Sturmer, married Ralph Drury in the time of Edward IV."—Blomfield's Norfolk. Another contemporary family was seated at Buxhall in Suffolk: of whom Sir William Esturmy was High Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk from 1210 to 1214. "In 1254 his grandson held the manor of Buxhall. About 1367 the last Sir William Esturmy died, leaving one daughter Rhosia, married to William Clement of Stow."—Hollingworth's History of Stowmarket.

The name is found in Somersetshire in 1669; and certainly existed for 100 years after that; for it is inscribed on a pyramid of variegated marble in Cheltenham Church, which bears the three demi-lions that appertained to it, and commemorates Henry Sturmy, obt. 1772.

-- Cleveland

Return to Main Index