Once I had established that the STANTONs were from Surrey, it did not take long to trace them back to the village of Ripley (on the London to Portsmouth road). The history of that village stated that in the 1570's, two STANTON brothers Thomas and George ran two inns in the village; The Talbot ("Tabut") and The George, and that George had been fined for being a "common innkeeper and making excessive profits!. The challenge was to find out if one of these two brothers was a direct ancestor.
How the search went:
From "The Old Man" - the birthplace of grandfather was Commercial Rd. Newport (Monmouthshire) in 1885.
I found the marriage of his parents in 1883. This gave his father (Jesse William) as a "Surgeon Dentist" and the son of James (a Clerk of Works), but no indication of where either came from.
Search of the 1881 census (the only census fully transcribed and name index at that time) failed to find Jesse anywhere, but a search for James's produced two "possibles" (out of many James STANTONs), one who had a step child born in Newport, the other (from Ash in Surrey) had a son still living at home who was an "apprentice to Dentist".
N.B. Jesse William was on the 1881 census in Newport, the transcriber had made two errors copy typing his entry, he was listed as Jessie W HOLLOWAY (surname accidentally copied from the line above). The original census entry is very clear!.
Working on the theory that the James from Ash was the most likely, I visited the Family Records Centre in London, to view the 1871 census for Ash. Fortunately Ash is a fairly small place, and it did not take long to search the microfilm of the census, and there (at "Rose Cottage") was the entire family, with Jesse William still a schoolboy.
The next three generations were easy, as James was the son of James and the grandson of James. All three had their marriages listed on the "International Genealogical Index", which is available on line on "the web".
The birthplace of Jesse William and his siblings was given as "Normandy" in Surrey, and father James as Bramley. The 1861 census found James in Normandy (only a couple of miles from Ash), whilst the 1851 found him with his father in Cranleigh.
On the 1851, James's father (James of course) was listed as a Wharfinger (one who manages a wharf) and nearby in Bramley a William STANTON was listed as a Lock Keeper and Coal merchant, both born nearby in Ripley. From this is I deduced that the two were brothers (sons of James and Sarah STANTON as per the Ripley Parish Register), however the immediate problem was where was the waterway (canal ?) they were working on ?.
Slowly "the penny dropped" that there had been a canal running through central Surrey in those days, and more (internet) research revealed it to be the "Wey and Arun Junction Canal", built to link those rivers together and provide a waterway from London to the channel coast.
A visit to the Surrey History Centre produced lots of family baptisms in all the villages so far discovered, and showed that the third (oldest) James had also been born in Ripley, but moved to Bramley to become a Lock Keeper (c 1818). The 1841 census showed James (oldest) with wife and younger son William at the Lock Keeper's cottage, with elder son James nearby with his wife Esther and their growing family.
I suddenly realised that the Lock Keepers cottage probably still existed, and a hurried trip to Bramley produced a huge surprise - the cottage was indeed still there, but alongside (where the lock and wharf had been) was a new road called "Stanton's Wharf" !. I exchanged emails with the parish council, who confirmed that the new road had been named in memory of the former occupants of the cottage. They also informed me that there had been (recently closed) a charity set up by William, in his will, to provide coal for the poor of the parish. It had operated for 120 years, before being closed as financially unsustainable.
Back home a casual internet search produced another surprise, a "Google " search for "STANTON Bramley Canal" produced a National Curriculum paper or 10/ 11 year olds, (year 2000) which featured the canal and the STANTON family on the 1841 census as its central theme (Victorian Transport). Together on the paper where James, James and James (2x 3x and 4x gt grandfathers).
Progressing back was more difficult, initially (oldest) James' birth had been a problem to find, but eventually I located a very poor entry in the Ripley parish registers, which identified his father as William. This was a problem, as there were two Williams (first cousins, one the son of James, the other the son of William). Eventually I was able to prove that James was the grandson of James (the other William having died).
From this point, working backwards relied on putting names in parish registers together and trying to find other evidence as to who was who (William was obviously the family name prior to the James's). I have gradually pieced it together (mostly from wills either of the STANTON family, or from their in-laws), and can largely prove (couple of probables still remain) the family line back to George of the "Tabut" Inn in the 1570's, and his father William (12x grandfather)