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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


The origins of the Farnum name lie with England's ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. It comes from when the 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 Farnum was originally derived from the Old English words fearn + hamm which means a fern-covered homestead or property.

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The surname Farnum 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. [1] 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. [2] 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." [3]

Before the last few hundred years, the English language had no fast system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations are commonly found in early Anglo-Saxon surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Farnum were recorded, including Farnham, Farnhams, Farnhan, Fearnham, Farneham and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Farnum research. Another 199 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1290, 1312, 1483, 1753 and are included under the topic Early Farnum History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Farnum Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Farnum family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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To escape oppression and starvation at that time, many English families left for the "open frontiers" of the New World with all its perceived opportunities. In droves people migrated to the many British colonies, those in North America in particular, paying high rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Although many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, those who did see the shores of North America perceived great opportunities before them. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Research into various historical records revealed some of first members of the Farnum family emigrate to North America:

Farnum Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • John Farnum, who landed in New England in 1640
  • Henry Farnum, who arrived in New England in 1644

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  • William Farnum (1876-1953), Hollywood film actor
  • Royal Bailey Farnum (1884-1967), former President of the Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Franklyn Farnum (1878-1961), stage name of William Smith, American character actor
  • Ethan Bennett "E. B." Farnum (1826-1878), American politician, first mayor of Deadwood, South Dakota
  • Dustin Farnum (1874-1929), American singer, dancer and silent movie actor
  • Billie Sunday Farnum (1916-1979), U.S. Representative and labor leader from Michigan
  • Edwin W. H. Farnum (1865-1925), American politician, Member of New Hampshire State Senate 8th District, 1901-02
  • Duane Farnum, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives from Tuscola County, 1962
  • Charla Farnum, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Iowa, 2008
  • Billie Sunday Farnum (1916-1979), American Democrat politician, Michigan State Auditor General, 1961-64; U.S. Representative from Michigan 19th District, 1965-67; Defeated, 1966

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  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.

Other References

  1. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  2. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  3. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  4. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  5. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  6. 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.
  7. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  9. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  10. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  11. ...

The Farnum Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Farnum 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 1 December 2015 at 14:37.

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