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

Origins Available: French, Irish

The Irish name Fay has a long Gaelic heritage to its credit. The original Gaelic form of the name Fay is O Fathaigh, derived from the word "fothadh," meaning "foundation."


The surname Fay was first found in Galway (Irish: Gaillimh) part of the province of Connacht, located on the west coast of the Island, where they held a family seat from very ancient times.

The recording of names in Ireland during the Middle Ages was an inconsistent endeavor at best. Since the general population did not know how to read or write, they could only specify how their names should be recorded orally. Research into the name Fay revealed spelling variations, including Fahey, Fahie, Fahy, Fay, O'Fahey, O'Fahy, Vahey and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fay research. Another 189 words (14 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fay History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


A great mass of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century, seeking relief from various forms of social, religious, and economic discrimination. This Irish exodus was primarily to North America. If the migrants survived the long ocean journey, many unfortunately would find more discrimination in the colonies of British North America and the fledgling United States of America. These newly arrived Irish were, however, wanted as a cheap source of labor for the many large agricultural and industrial projects that were essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the western world. Early immigration and passenger lists indicate many people bearing the Fay name:

Fay Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Henry Fay, who arrived in Newbury, Massachusetts in 1655
  • Tho Fay, who arrived in Virginia in 1655

Fay Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Johann Conrad Fay, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1752
  • Simon Fay settled in Maryland in 1767

Fay Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Luke Fay, who arrived in New York, NY in 1815
  • Andrew Fay, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816
  • Patrick Fay, who arrived in New York in 1819
  • William Fay, who arrived in New York in 1819
  • Lawrence Fay, who landed in New York in 1819

Fay Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Mr. Henry E. Fay U.E. who settled in Carleton [Saint John City], New Brunswick c. 1784

Fay Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • John Fay, English convict from Southampton, who was transported aboard the "Andromeda" on November 13, 1832, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Bridget Fay arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Inconstant" in 1849
  • Tomas Fay, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Adelaide" on August 08, 1849, settling in Van Diemen's Land and Port Phillip, Australia
  • Margaret Fay, aged 25, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Grand Trianon"


  • Rick Fay (1926-1999), American clarinetist
  • Peter W. Fay (1924-2004), American historian
  • Ming Fay, American sculptor
  • Michael D. Fay, American artist
  • Larry Fay (1888-1933), American businessperson
  • Jonathan Fay, American computer scientist
  • Meagen Fay (b. 1957), American actress
  • Michael D. Fay, American USMC combat artist
  • J. Michael Fay (b. 1956), American ecologist and conservationist
  • Peter Ward Fay (1924-2004), American historian and authority on India and China



  • Edwin Fay of Vermont and Alabama, 1794-1876: His Origins from 1656 and His Descendants to 1987 by Mary Smith Fay.
  • The History of the Bemis, Perkinson, Fay, and Lawrence Families: These Being the Four Ancestral Lines of the Compiler by Ted Harrison Bemis.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Esperance
Motto Translation: Hope.


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  1. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  2. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  3. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  4. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  5. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  7. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  8. O'Hart, John. Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4).
  9. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  10. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  11. ...

The Fay Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Fay 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 15 August 2015 at 19:15.

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