F is for: A Genealogy Study

F is for Fascinating if you ask me.

Check out the previous iterations of this post (A, B, C, D, De, E)


de Falaise: This French locational name came from a town in Normandy and is the word for “cliff”.

de Fergent: This is another French name, derived from the nickname of Alain Bretagne. The French words “fer gant” mean “Iron Glove”.

de Fressel:  The origins of the Fressel family name are somewhat of a mystery. The earliest record of the name, from the 12th century, are ‘de Fresel’, ‘de Friselle’, and ‘de Freseliere’, which appear to be Norman; however, they have never been found in Normandy itself. Another possibility is that the word is Gaelic, but no one has been able to locate a Gaelic name from which Fressel might be derived. it is thought that it was, in later years, that the “Fraisse'” or strawberry was adopted as part of the armorial bearings of this family due to the similarity in pronunciation. As an interesting note, the motto of the Fressels was the same as the clan Fraser of Lovat: “Je suis prest”- I am ready.

Fabri: This interesting surname, now chiefly recorded in the Bristol area of Gloucestershire, has two distinct possible sources, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly, Febry may be of Old French origin, and an occupational name for an iron-worker or smith, deriving from the Old French “fever(e)” (Latin “faber”, craftsman). Initially introduced into Britain by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066, the name takes the forms “le Fevere” and “le Fever” in early documents. The second possibility is that Febry is a late variant of the medieval English nickname/surname Feverel, from a Middle English form of the name of the month of February (Latin “februarius”, perhaps a derivative of “febris”, fever), given to someone, born or found in this month.

Fauconberg: The many generations and branches of the Fauconberg family can all place the origins of their surname with the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. Their name reveals that an early member cared for and trained falcons. The surname Fauconberge originally derived from the Old French word faucon which referred to a falcon.

Fisher: This interesting surname has a number of origins. Firstly, it may be an occupational name for a fisherman, deriving from the Middle English “fisher”, a development of the Olde English pre 7th Century “fiscere”, a derivative of “fiscian” meaning “to catch fish”. Secondly, it may be a topographical name for someone who lived near a fish weir on a river, deriving from the Middle English “fisch”, Olde English “fisc” meaning “fish” plus the Middle English “gere” a development of the Old Norse “gervi” “weir, apparatus”. inally, it may be an Ashkenazic occupational name for a fisherman from the Yiddish “fisher”. A Coat of Arms granted to a Fisher family in Scotland is a blue shield, with a silver chevron between three silver salmon haurient.

Fitch/Fytche:  This interesting surname is a metonymic occupational name for a work-man who used an “iron pointed implement”. It derives from the Old French “fiche” meaning “an iron point”, which itself comes from “ficher” “to fix” or “to plant”; hence, fitch is “an iron pointed implement”. The surname dates back to the mid 12th Century

FitzAlan: This interesting name is of Celtic origin, and derives from a personal name of great antiquity. The name Alan, is thought to derive from the Gaelic “ailin”, little rock, a diminutive of “ail”, rock, and was introduced into England and later to Ireland by the Breton followers of William the Conqueror after 1066, among whom it was a very popular given name.

FitzBaldric: Derived from the Germanic elements bald “bold, brave” and ric “power, rule”. The Normans introduced this name to Britain, and it was common in the Middle Ages.

FitzDuncan: This famous Anglo-Scottish surname derives from the pre 7th-century Gaelic male given name “Donnchad”, related ultimately to “Donncatus”, a Celtic personal name of great antiquity. This is composed of the elements “donn”, meaning brown, and “cath”, – the warrior. On a stone at Glan Usk near Crickhowel in Wales the name appears as “Dunocatus” which suggests that the initial element may alternatively be “dun”, a fortress and hence, “fort warrior”.

FitzPatrick: This interesting name is of early medieval English origin, and one of the variant forms of the surname generated from the male personal name Patrick. The given name was adopted from the Latin “Patricius”, son of a noble father, a member of the patrician class, the Roman hereditary aristocracy. Patrick was the name of a 5th Century Roman-Briton who became the apostle of Ireland, and his subsequent fame was largely responsible for the popularity of the given name during the Middle Ages. In England, the given name found most favor in the northern counties and is first recorded there in its Latinized form of “Patricius”, in the Early Yorkshire Charters of 1175 – 1196. In Scotland, Patrick was popular in the West, and became confused with Peter, while in Ireland it only became a popular Christian name after 1600, due probably to the Scots settlers in Ulster.

FitzRalph: Recorded in many forms including Ralph, Ralphs, Ralfe, Rafe, Raff, Ralls, Rave, Rawle, and Rawles (English), Raoul, Raoult, Rault, and Raoux (French), Radou and Razoux (Provencal), Radolf, Radloff, Rahl and Rahlof (German), and many others, this is a surname of ancient Norse origins. It derives from the personal name “Radulf,” composed of the elements “rad”, meaning counsel or advice, and “wolf”, a wolf, an animal much admired at the time for its ferocity and cunning. The surname, however spelled, is one of the earliest recorded anywhere in the world.

Fitzurse: This name is derived from Fitz, the Anglo- Norman French term meaning “son of” and urse from the Latin ursus, meaning a bear (Anglo-Norman French: urse)

FitzWarin/ FitzWarren: Recorded in many forms including Guerin, Guarrin, Warin, Waring, Wharin, Wharing, Wareing, Warring, Wearing, and others, this is an English medieval surname. It is however of Norman-French origins and was probably introduced into England at the famous Conquest of 1066. The source is the personal name Warin or Guerin, from the pre 6th-century old Germanic word “warin” meaning guard, itself used as a first element of various compounds such as Warner.

Flannery: Recorded as O’Flannery and Flannery, this ancient Irish surname was originally a nickname. It derives from the words “flann” meaning red and “abrha” – an eyebrow! From this, it is easy to deduce that the original chieftain was a man with prominent red eyebrows, and probably a Viking. It is not generally appreciated that the “Norsemen” settled in Ireland many years before they transferred their “affections” to the British mainland. Dublin was the capital of the Irish Viking kingdom in the 10th-century a.d., and it is probable that the O’Flannery clan were from this origin.

Fleming: This is an ancient name in Ireland, known to date back to the 12th Century and shortly after the invasion of Henry 11th in 1171. The name means specifically “a man from Flanders” and was found as “le Flamanc”, one William Le Flamanc being so recorded in the Yorkshire Assize Rolls in 1219 A.D.. The name is also job descriptive, and “Le Flamanc” probably referred as much to skills as a “Flemish weaver” as the place of origin. In the early medieval period “Flanders” was the center of all European textile manufacture and several English Kings offered “inducements” to persuade “Flem(m)ings” to emigrate to Britain, and to set up manufacture.

Fort: This most unusual and interesting name is of Old French origin, introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. The surname has a number of possible interpretations; firstly, it may have developed from a nickname for a particularly strong person, from the Old French adjective, “fort”, strong, brave, from the Latin “fortis”. In some cases, it may be from a rare Latin personal name of the same origin borne by an obscure saint whose cult was popular in the south and southwest of France during the Middle Ages. The surname Fort, or Forte, may also be a topographical name for someone who lived near a fortress or stronghold, or an occupational name for someone who was employed in one, derived from the Old French “fort” used in the concrete sense of a “stronghold”.

Fraser: This ancient Scottish clan surname, is widely recorded in the spellings of Fraser, Frazer and Frazier, the latter being an American spelling. Curiously, although always associated with Tweedale, its exact origins remain undetermined. The earliest recorded spelling forms include de Fresel, de Friselle and de Freseliere, indicating a possible French locational origin, however, there is no place in France answering to the spelling. A more likely explanation is that the name is not French at all since the word ‘fraisse’ heraldically describes a strawberry, and it is known that early lands of the clan included an area at Neidpath where strawberries grew prolifically. Certainly, the clan was known as the “Strawberry bearers”, from their heraldic coat of arms, but this possibly sarcastic description does not seem to have harmed their chances in the world, the clan at one time being the most powerful in Scotland.

Freshwater: This is an English surname. It is locational and originates either from the village of Freshwater on the Isle of Wight, then part of the county of Hampshire, or possibly from an area called Freshwater, in Pembrokeshire in South Wales, or from some now “lost” medieval place, which was renowned locally for its “fresh water”. Over three thousand surnames of the British Isles are known to have originated from now lost sites, so whilst unusual, this is by no means a unique situation. The famous Victorian etymologist, Canon Charles Bardsley writing about this name in the year 1880 said that “he could find no trace of the surname in the county of Hampshire” and that he, therefore, concluded that it had to come from a lost village.





3 thoughts on “F is for: A Genealogy Study

  1. Another great post, Amanda. It looks like we share the following “F” surnames: Fisher/Fischer, Fitch, FitzAlan, FitzDuncan, FitzPatrick, FitzWarin, Fleming, and Fraser.

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