Show ContentsFearn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

A family in the Pictish tribe of ancient Scotland was the first to use the name Fearn. They lived on the land of Fearn in Ross where "the Gaelic name of this parish, Fearnn, signifies 'the alder-tree,' and was applied in consequence of the great number of alders growing at Mid-Fearn, in the parish of Edderton, in the neighbourhood. An abbey was founded there in the reign of Alexander II., by Farquhar, first Earl of Ross." [1]

Early Origins of the Fearn family

The surname Fearn was first found in Ross-shire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Rois) a former county, now part of the Council Areas of Highland and Western Isles in Northern Scotland, which emerged from the Gaelic lordship of the Earl of Ross.

"Sir Andrew Ferae was one of the chaplains of the cathedral church of Dornoch in 1512, Sir Robert Fern or Ferne was curate of Golspie in 1546, and curate of Kylmalie in the same year." [2]

Saint Bartholomew of Farne (d. 1193) was a Benedictine hermit, born Tostig, to parents of Scandinavian origin, in Whitby, Northumbria, England. He received a vision of St Cuthbert, and then decided to inhabit Cuthbert's old cell on the island of Farne. There he remained for the remaining 42 years of his life.

Early History of the Fearn family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fearn research. Another 247 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1267, 1517, 1543, 1546, 1685, 1432, 1436, 1458, 1567, 1488, 1488, 1500, 1578, 1560, 1609, 1604, 1609, 1602, 1662, 1602 and 1610 are included under the topic Early Fearn History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fearn Spelling Variations

In medieval Scotland, names were more often spelled according to sound than any regular set of rules. An enormous number of spelling variations were the result. Over the years, the name Fearn has been spelled Ferns, Fearn, Fearns, Fearne, Fern, Ferne and others.

Early Notables of the Fearn family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was Sir John Ferne (ca. 1560-1609), an English writer on heraldry and an eminent lawyer and politician, Member of Parliament for Boroughbridge from 1604 to 1609. He was "the son of William Ferne of Temple Belwood in the isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire, who came originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire." [3] Henry Ferne (1602-1662), was an English bishop, Chaplain Extraordinary to Charles I...
Another 67 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fearn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fearn Ranking

In the United States, the name Fearn is the 16,954th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [4]

United States Fearn migration to the United States +

In such difficult times, Ireland, Australia, and North America looked like better homes for many Scots. The trips were expensive and grueling, but also rewarding, as the colonies were havens for those unwelcome in the old country. That legacy did not die easily, though, and many were forced to fight for their freedom in the American War of Independence. The Scottish legacy has resurface in more recent times, though, through Clan societies, highland games, and other organizations. Immigration and passenger lists have shown many early immigrants bearing the old Scottish name of Fearn:

Fearn Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Elizabeth Fearn, who settled in New England in 1767
Fearn Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Felix Fearn, who settled in Philadelphia in 1877

Australia Fearn migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Fearn Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Miss Hannah Fearn, (b. 1782), aged 30, English convict who was convicted in Warwick, Warwickshire, England for life for shop lifting, transported aboard the "Emu" in October 1812, the ship was captured and the passengers put ashore, the convicts were then transported aboard the "Broxburnebury" in January 1812 arriving in New South Wales, Australia, she died in 1844 [5]

New Zealand Fearn migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Fearn Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • George Fearn, aged 27, a labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "La Hogue" in 1874
  • Eliza Fearn, aged 31, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "La Hogue" in 1874

Contemporary Notables of the name Fearn (post 1700) +

  • Dr. Anne Walter Fearn (1865-1939), American missionary physician who went to Shanghai, China on a temporary posting in 1893, and remained there for 40 years
  • John Walker Fearn (1832-1899), American Confederate soldier later an American diplomat to Serbia, Romania, and Greece, Chief of the Department of Foreign Affairs for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893
  • Thomas Fearn (1789-1863), American Confederate politician who served in the United States Army in the War of 1812 and as a member of the Alabama state legislature
  • Thomas Fearn (1789-1863), American politician, Member of Alabama State Legislature; Delegate from Alabama to the Confederate Provisional Congress, 1861 [6]
  • Iain Fearn (b. 1949), Scottish footballer who played from 1968 to 1974
  • Ronald Cyril "Ronnie" Fearn OBE (b. 1931), Baron Fearn, British Liberal Democrat politician born in the Ormskirk district of Lancashire, Member of the House of Lords Lord Temporal (2001-2018), Member of Parliament for Southport (1987-1992) and (1997-2001)
  • John Fearn (1768-1837), British philosopher, a close friend of Samuel Parr and Basil Montagu [7]
  • Sir Patrick Robin Fearn KCMG (1934-2006), British diplomat, Ambassador to Cuba and Spain
  • Sheila Fearn (b. 1940), British former actress, best known for playing Audrey, the sister of Terry Collier in The Likely Lads and Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?
  • John Russell Fearn (1908-1960), British prolific uthor who used various pseudonyms including Thornton Ayre, Polton Cross, Geoffrey Armstrong, John Cotton, Dennis Clive, Ephriam Winiki, Astron Del Martia and others
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  3. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd November 2020). Retrieved from
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 20) . Retrieved from
  7. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020 on Facebook