Show ContentsFarnam History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Farnam is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when a family lived at Farnham, in several different counties including Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Essex, Suffolk, and the West Riding of Yorkshire. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. In this case the surname Farnam was originally derived from the Old English words fearn + hamm which means a fern-covered homestead or property. [1]

Another source has a slightly different understanding of the name: "so called from the Saxon Fearn, fern, and ham, a habitation or village—the village in the place overgrown with fern." [2]

Early Origins of the Farnam family

The surname Farnam was first found in one of the many villages names Farnham throughout England in the following counties or shires: Dorset, Essex, North Yorkshire, Suffolk, and Surrey. Farnham Common and Farnham Royal are located in Buckinghamshire. [3]

The name has numerous listings in the Domesday Book with various spellings that were in use at the time: Fernham, Dorset; Phernham Essex; Fareham North Yorkshire; Farnham, Suffolk; and Fernham Surrey. Farnham Royal was listed as Fernham Riall. [4]

While one would suppose the surname originated from one or more of the aforementioned locals, another reference suggests we must look to Leicestershire, specifically Quorndon to find the surname's true origin as in "this ancient family was certainly seated at Quorndon two descents before the reign of Edward I." [5]

Early rolls point to many of the aforementioned counties of England: Richard de Farenham in the Pipe Rolls for Surrey in 1205; Robert de Farnham in the Assize Rolls for Yorkshire in 1219; and John de Farnam, listed a a Freeman of York in 1323. [6]

Early History of the Farnam family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Farnam research. Another 123 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1290, 1312, 1483, 1753, 1665, 1666, 1642, 1636, 1784, 1832 and are included under the topic Early Farnam History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Farnam Spelling Variations

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Farnam family name include Farnham, Farnhams, Farnhan, Fearnham, Farneham and others.

Early Notables of the Farnam family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Richard Farnham (d. 1642), fanatic, "a weaver who came from Colchester to Whitechapel about 1636, where he and a fellow-craftsman, John Bull, announced that they were prophets inspired with 'the very spirit of God.' They claimed to be 'the two great prophets which should come...
Another 52 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Farnam Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Farnam family to Ireland

Some of the Farnam family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 50 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Farnam family

For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, the Canadas, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Farnam surname or a spelling variation of the name include : Thomas and Ralph Farnham who had came to Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1634; as did Henry Farnham of Warwickshire, who settled there in 1644. Alice, Mary, and Ralph Farnham settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1635.

Contemporary Notables of the name Farnam (post 1700) +

  • Louise Whitman Farnam (1890-1949), American physician, Yale's First Female Doctor, member of the Hunan-Yale Hospital and the Hunan-Yale College of Medicine in Changsha (1921-1933), during part of the Chinese Civil War
  • Ruth Stanley Farnam (1873-1956), American nurse, soldier and writer; the only American woman known to have served as a soldier in the Serbian army during World War I
  • Henry Walcott Farnam (1853-1933), American economist and professor of political economy at Yale University from 1880 to 1918, son of railroad executive Henry Farnam
  • C. Eugene Farnam (1916-1999), American politician, Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner (1962-1971)
  • Henry Farnam (1803-1883), American philanthropist from Scipio, New York, President of Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (1854-1863)
  • Tracy Farnam, American politician, Delegate to Connecticut convention to ratify 21st amendment 18th District, 1933 [7]
  • O. E. Farnam, American politician, Representative from South Dakota 3rd District, 1920 [7]
  • George B. Farnam, American Republican politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from Cornwall, 1916 [7]
  • Lynnwood Farnam (1885-1930), Canadian organist from Sutton, Quebec, the preeminent organist in North America in the 1920s until his death
  • Farnam Manning Sprague (b. 1858), American Democratic Party politician, Member of Vermont State House of Representatives from Readsboro, 1888 [7]

  1. Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  2. Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  5. Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  6. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  7. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 1) . Retrieved from on Facebook