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Magnus (c1070 - )

Parents: unknown

Born: c1070
Flourished: c1095       
Died: unknown

Siblings: unknown

Marriage: unknown

Orm born c1095

Other facts
Was instituted into the church at Lytham at some time in the 12th century.

- Durham Univ. Library Special Collections

Magnus is the earliest known direct ancestor of the Stansfield family of the township of Stansfield in what is now West Yorkshire. He had to have been born not long after the Norman invasion of 1066, but was more likely to have Angle, Saxon, Danish or other Norse blood than Norman.


Magnus is a mystery, known almost entirely through the activities of his only known son Orm and grandsons.

To date only one record has been found for Magnus in his own right and, while it is quite conceivable that it is our Magnus, it is far from proven. Furthermore the record (dated as early 13th century) is retrospective, attesting to an event involving Magnus which probably occurred several decades earlier.

The manor of Lytham and its church were granted to Durham Priory by Richard son of Roger son of Ravenkil son of Raghanald, the last being a Saxon thegn who held Lytham, Bootle, Linacre and Woodplumpton. The grant was so that Durham Priory could create a 'cell' in Lytham, dedicated to St. Cuthbert. This followed a 'miracle' experienced by the above Richard, which he attributed to that saint. But we know that Lytham Priory wasn't created until c1190, which would be too late for our Magnus. 

The key to unlocking the reference to Magnus lies in the fact that he was instituted into the Church rather than the Priory. The fact that a church existed in Lytham before the creation of Lytham Priory is supported not just by the above record, but by the Priory Charter and by the Libellus written by Reginald of Durham, a Benedictine monk of Durham Priory who completed his Reginaldi Monachi Dunelmensis Libellus de Admirandis Beati Cuthberti Virtutibus Quae Novellis Patratae Sunt Temporibus before he died around 1190, and therefore vital primary evidence.

My thanks to researcher Joanne Backhouse for her collaboration and guidance regarding the Stansfeld family and Calderdale.