Transferred use of the surname, in origin a local name from any of numerous places (in Derbys., Durham, Gloucs., Staffs., Wilts., and Yorks.) so called from Old English stān ‘stone’ + lēah ‘wood, clearing’. This is well established as a given name, and has been widely used as such since the 1880s. It had been in occasional use over a century earlier. Its popularity seems to have stemmed at least in part from the fame of the explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley (1841–1904), who was born in Wales as John Rowlands but later took the name of his adoptive father, a New Orleans cotton dealer.