Show ContentsFells History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name was derived from the place named Fell in Cumberland which in turn was derived from the Icelandic name "fell" which meant a "fell or wild hill."

Early Origins of the Fells family

The surname Fells was first found in Dundee where "the Fells afford an instance of an occupation being hereditary in a family, the earliest recorded of the name i.e. in Dundee being Finlay Fell, butcher, who was admitted burgess on 7th June 1533. The trade descended from father to son for more than a century." [1]

"This surname is derived from a geographical locality. 'at the fell,' from residence on or near the fell; 'by frith and fell,' a common phrase in early poetry; a fell was a hill or moor open and unenclosed. Sheep that graze on such scanty pastures are called fell-sheep in Furness. " [2]

Early History of the Fells family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fells research. Another 73 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1584, 1649, 1598, 1658, 1625, 1686, 1700, 1614 and 1702 are included under the topic Early Fells History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fells Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Fell, Fells and others.

Early Notables of the Fells family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Samuel Fell D.D. (1584-1649), an English academic and clergyman, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford; Thomas Fell (1598-1658), vice-chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster; John Fell (1625-1686), an English churchman, Dean...
Another 44 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fells Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fells Ranking

In the United States, the name Fells is the 16,548th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [3]

United States Fells migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Fells Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Fells, who landed in Virginia in 1638 [4]
  • Jon Fells, who landed in Virginia in 1642 [4]
  • Henry Fells, who arrived in Virginia in 1695 [4]
Fells Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Jurgen Fells, who landed in America in 1777 [4]
Fells Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • G Fells, aged 31, who arrived in New Orleans, La in 1855 [4]
  • Maria Fells, aged 42, who arrived in New York, NY in 1855 [4]
  • William Fells, aged 42, who landed in New York, NY in 1855 [4]
  • Sebastian Fells, who landed in Mobile, Ala in 1860 [4]

New Zealand Fells 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:

Fells Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Fells, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Wild Duck" in 1864
  • Louisa Fells, aged 16, a servant, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ocean Mail" in 1875

Contemporary Notables of the name Fells (post 1700) +

  • Darren Andre Fells (b. 1986), American NFL football tight end for the Arizona Cardinals, brother of Daniel Fells
  • Daniel Fells (b. 1983), American NFL football tight end for the New York Giants
  • John Manger Fells (1858-1925), British incorporated accountant consultant, and author on accounting, an early promoter of cost accounting
  • Ian Fells CBE, PhD, FREng, FRSC, FInstE, FIChemE, FRSE, English Emeritus Professor of Energy Conversion at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne

  1. 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)
  2. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  4. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8) on Facebook