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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Flay family come from? What is the English Flay family crest and coat of arms? When did the Flay family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Flay family history?

There are several possible origins for the distinguished surname Flay. Firstly, the name may be derived from "Flée," the name of a place in the Cote-d'Or in France; in this case, the name would mean "one from Flée," and would have been brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Alternatively, the name may be derived from the Old English "fleah," meaning "flea"; in this instance, it is likely that the name was bestowed on the original bearer as a nickname.

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Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Flay, Flaye, Fleay and others.

First found in the southern counties of England. The earliest known bearer of the name was William Fleie, who was listed in the Feodarium Prioratus Dunelmensis of 1233.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Flay research. Another 210 words(15 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1233, 1332, 1620, and 1642 are included under the topic Early Flay History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 29 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Flay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Flay or a variant listed above:

Flay Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Edward Flay, who landed in Virginia in 1664

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  1. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  2. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  3. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  4. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  5. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  6. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  7. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  8. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  9. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  10. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  11. ...

The Flay Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Flay Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 17 May 2014 at 00:23.

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