The name Mansfield is of Anglo-Saxon origin and considered topographical as it derived its name from a town found in the county of Nottinghamshire, which was originally called Mamesfeld/Memmesfes as documented in the Domesday Book. Over time the name evolved into Mansfield. Mamesfeld is a compound of two medieval English words, mame which translates to “breast or mother” and feld which translates to “field”. Prior to the middle ages the village of Mamesfeld, now Mansfield, was part of the Kingdom of Mercia. Mercia's rulers were some of the first Kings of Britain and England.
Surnames in Britain prior to the Norman conquest were largely unheard of. In the small settlements and villages which existed during earlier times, residents found little need for surnames as everyone in these communities new each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, with the passage of time, population growth and expansions of communities as villages gave way to towns and cities, it became necessary to add a qualifier to a people's names to distinguish them, one from another. Therefore one person may have been identified by their given name plus their occupation while another may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent's names. The introduction of surnames by the Norman aristocracy after the invasion seemed to be the next logical step in this evolution. There was a boundless supply from which surnames could be formed, in addition to the use of patriarchal/matriarchal names or reference to the individuals occupation, there were things such as defining physical traits, a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individuals home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and so much more. Soon, surnames would come not just to represent an individual but whole families.
There often exists variations in spelling of many surnames, as with many given names which date back to the early centuries. The variation in spelling of both given and surnames during this time period can be attributed to a lack of continuity regarding guidelines for spelling which was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time. The variations in the spelling of the surname Mansfield include but not limited to; Mansfield, Mandefeld, Mandifield, Manifield, Manterfield, Maniford, Manford, and Mansford among others.
The earliest record of any variation of this surname is that of Robertus Mansfeld which appears in the Yorkshire tax rolls from 1379. These rolls, were a series of census and tax records
kept by the English Treasury by order of King Richard II, with the oldest dating back to the 12th century. They hold the distinction of being the oldest consecutive set of records detailing English governance in the United Kingdom. These records span a period of over 700 years and have proven invaluable to researches over the years. Additionally, the marriage of William Neville and Elizabeth Mansfield appear in church records found in London dated 1469. The records also show Alice Mandifield was christened in London in1582 and Johnn Manford was christened in 1584.
The first recorded immigrant to America bearing the surname or any variation of the spelling was Davy Mansfield who arrived in 1623 and settled in Virginia. Robert Mansfield landed and settled in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1630. Thomas and Jane Mansfield arrived and settled in Virginia in 1634 as did John Mansfield.
There were also many immigrants to the British Common Wealth countries of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand bearing the surname Mansfield. Peter Mansfield landed in 1822 and settled in Canada as did Margaret Murphy Mansfield in 1840. Richard Mansfield landed in 1825 and settled in New South Wales, Australia. Thomas Mansfield landed in 1844 and settled in Adelaide, Australia as did Richard Mansfield in 1846. Tom Mansfield landed in 1844 and settled in Wellington, New Zealand. Henry Mansfield landed in 1857 and settled in Wellington, New Zealand. Robert Mansfield landed in 1864 and settled in Wellington, New Zealand. Ann Mansfield landed in 1864 and settled in Auckland, New Zealand as did Robert John Mansfield.
Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Mansfield are found in Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, and Canada . By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Mansfield live in California.
There are many persons of note who bear the surname Mansfield. One such person is Sir Alan Mansfield. Mansfield was born in Brisbane, Australia. He attended St. Paul's College at the University of Sydney where he studied law. Mansfield went on to serve on the Supreme Court of Queensland and later became Governor of Queensland. In 1958, Mansfield became member of Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and S. George.