Select Spalding Miscellany

Here are some Spalding stories and accounts over the years:

Spalding Origins

The Lincolnshire village of Spalding on the fens of East Anglia was founded at the point where a road ran over the low country to the Wash.  The name appeared in Anglo-Saxon records as early as the 8th century, the first written record of Spalding being in a charter issued in 716 by King Athelbald to the monks of Crowland Abbey.

In Latin, Spall or Spald means "shoulder" and the town of Spalding meant literally "the tribe who live at the shoulder (of marsh land)."  Spalding was one of the Saxon divisions of Lincolnshire known as "the Spalda," the Saxon suffix "ing" denoting sons of a family or tribe, and the people who lived in Spalding were known as the "Spaldingas" or the Spalding tribe.  This tribe was believed to have come from Flanders and to have held land in south Holland as early as the 7th century.

Spalding in medieval times was a market centre with two important industries, salt making and fisheries. Today it is known for its tulips and sausages.

Spaldings in York

There was a family of Spaldings who were made freemen of York in the 17th century.  Their records show that they were a family of carpenters:

Henry Spalding, carpenter
Mathew Spaldinge, carpenter, son of Henry Spaldinge
Henry Spawlden, son of Henry Spalden, carpenter
Marcus Spaldinge, carpenter, son of Mathew Spalton, carpenter
Mathew Spalding, son of Mathew Spalding, carpenter


Spaldings of Ashintully

The Spaldings built Ashintully Castle near Blairgowrie in Perthshire in 1583 where they remained for the next hundred and fifty years.

Some of these Spaldings had a reputation for cruelty.  David Spalding, it was said, "condemned and executed many most unrighteously, particularly a man of the name of Duncan who was drowned in a sack in what is still called Duncan's pool."  A ghost which haunts the grounds is said to be that of a misshapen servant, known as "Crooked Dave" who was murdered by one of the Spaldings.  Another ghost is that of a tinker, hanged for trespassing on the grounds.  He cursed the family, warning that their line would soon come to an end.

The curse was made in the early 1700's and soon came to pass. 

Spaldings and Spaulding

The spelling was Spalding in England and Scotland; and mainly Spalding for immigrants to America.  But once there Spaldings tended to add a "u" to their name.  The following is the approximate current distribution of the Spalding and Spaulding names.

Numbers (000's)
According to some family records, the shift from Spalding to Spaulding (where it occurred) started sometime after the Civil War.

Edward Spalding in Virginia and Massachusetts

In the spring of 1619 Edward Spalding boarded a ship in London that sailed for the Jamestown colony in Virginia.  He had signed himself on as an indentured servant to pay for the cost of his voyage.  When he arrived there, it was recorded that he elected to obtain a wife from a selection of women who were described as “agreeable persons, young and incorrupt.”  Apparently the union was successful for in 1623 it was further recorded in the Virginia Colonist Record in a "List of the Living" that Edward Spalding with wife, son and daughter were living in the Jamestown colony.

Life in Jamestown was not idyllic.  In 1622 an Indian uprising resulted in the death of over 300 colonists and disease was still taking an enormous toil on the population.  One contemporary commentary on Edward Spalding stated that he finally departed Jamestown “after losing two young families.”  Whether or not this is true cannot be confirmed.  However, it does appear that when he relocated to Massachusetts sometime in the late 1620's he did so without children and possibly without a wife.  No doubt conditions in Jamestown were too much for him to bear.  By 1627 he had completed the terms of his indentureship and he must have concluded that there were better opportunities in Massachusetts.

By 1630 his name first appeared in the Braintree public records in Massachusetts and three years later it was recorded that a son was born to Edward and his wife Margaret.  Three other children followed.  In 1645 he and nineteen other petitioners were granted land to establish the town of Chelmsford.  He lived there until his death in 1670.

Albert G. Spalding and the Invention of Baseball

At the turn of the century, few people were agreed on precisely how baseball had come to be.  In 1907 the sporting-goods tycoon Albert G. Spalding, formerly a major league pitching star, appointed a committee to investigate the game's early history and settle once and for all where, when, and how baseball had originated.  Spalding's unfounded belief was that baseball was a purely American phenomenon.

Most of the committee members quickly lost interest in the study and by year-end its chairman, former National League president A. G. Mills, was left working by himself.  Early in 1908 he submitted his findings to Spalding.  It was then that the Doubleday myth arose.  Doubleday, Mills wrote, invented baseball, diagramed and laid out the first diamond, and supervised the first games in Cooperstown, New York in 1839.  He was an instructor at a local military academy and the first players of the game were his students 

Spalding liked the report for it meshed with his own notions of baseball's fundamental Americanness.  But little in it had any basis in fact.  No one - neither Spalding, nor baseball historian Henry Chadwick, nor anyone else - had ever heard of Doubleday. 

Doubleday, a prolific writer of magazine articles in the years following the Civil War, had never penned a single word about the game he supposedly invented, nor could Mills attribute a single quoted remark about baseball to Doubleday.  Significantly, Mills and Doubleday had been classmates at West Point and it is not unlikely that Mills used his report simply to honor his friend.

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