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Austen Genealogy and Austen Family History Information

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About the Austen surname


THE ROOT The surname Austen is a variant of Austin or Austyn which is itself a contracted form of Augustine. When Pope Gregory the Great undertook to convert the Pagan Angles and Saxons of England to Christianity, he sent Augustine as a missionary to Canterbury. The latter made his first converts at the court of King Ethelbert who had a Christian wife. The faith spread rapidly through Kent and from there to Essex and Wessex, and eventually to the northern kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria.

Kent may be regarded as the place of origin of the Austins or Austens and the name spelt in various ways is met with in most parts of that county. It spread, however, throughout England, and the branch of the Austens with which we are particularly concerned moved west in the 1lth or 12th century, and we hear of them first in the Marches of Wales. They were a land owning family of good standing as early as the reign of Richard I., with estates at Albrighton, Toddington and Whitchurch in Shropshire, and at Stapleford in Cheshire. The early descents of the Austens are shown in the pedigree of the ancient Cheshire family of Cotgreave, which also records the quarterings of their arms. These particulars were communicated to Mr. R. A. C. Austen then living at Yerrow, in a letter from Mr. W.S. Spence of Chester, dated October 24th, 1840. The same pedigree is recorded in the British Museum, a copy of which was made by Mrs. Malcolmson (Kate Austen) in 1900. The Austens seem to have been deprived of most of their possessions in one of the feudal struggles of the 13th or 14th century; but aKnight of their name greatly distinguished himself at Guisnes in the French Wars was appointed Constable of Brest. In recognition of his valour at Guisnes some of the forfeited estates of the family were restored. The luck of the Austens did not last however; for in the Wars of the Roses they backed the losing side and consequently suffered forfeiture of their Shropshire properties for the second time. The family, much impoverished then settled in Hertfordshire near St. Albans, on a small estate which was called Toddington probably to remind them of the lost Shropshire Toddington which was their original home. The pedigree above shows that the Austens were connected by marriage with some of the best-known families of Cheshire and Shropshire. Their arms, azure a chevron argent between three choughs or, can be traced in the armorial bearings of many ancient Houses. The authority for this statement is a letter written in 1672 by Randle Holmes, the Historian and Genealogist of Cheshire. Their right to these Arms was confirmed at the Visitation of Surrey in 1623 by Samuel Thompson, Windsor Heraud, Deputy of William Camden Clarenceux King of Arms.

from Eugene Bertram Meier, Jr.

I am writing the first book from the American point of view about 19th century rotunda panoramas. These were the biggest paintings in the world, 50 x 400=20,000 square feet, housed in their own rotundas which were 16-sided polygons. Chicago in 1893 had 6 panorama companies and 6 panorama rotundas. Edward James Austen, born in London 1850, died in 1930, was a panorama artist who worked for Howard H. Gross in Englewood, a suburb of Chicago. I have info to share.

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