Show ContentsFern History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the first family to use the name Fern lived among the ancient Scottish people called the Picts. The Fern family 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 Fern family

The surname Fern 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 Fern family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fern 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 Fern History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fern Spelling Variations

In the Middle ages, spelling and translation were not yet regulated by any general rules. spelling variations in names were common even among members of one family unit. Fern has appeared Ferns, Fearn, Fearns, Fearne, Fern, Ferne and others.

Early Notables of the Fern 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 Fern Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fern Ranking

In the United States, the name Fern is the 11,558th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [4]

United States Fern migration to the United States +

Faced by this persecution and the generally unstable political climate of those days, many Scots chose to leave their homeland for Ireland, Australia, and North America in search of greater opportunity and freedom. The colonies across the Atlantic were the most popular choice, but a passage there was neither cheap nor easily suffered. Passengers arrived sick and poor, but those who made it intact often found land and more tolerant societies in which to live. These brave settlers formed the backbone of the burgeoning nations of Canada and the United States. It is only this century that the ancestors of these families have begun to recover their collective identity through the patriotic highland games and Clan societies that have sprung up throughout North America. Research into early immigration and passenger lists revealed many immigrants bearing the name Fern:

Fern Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Joh Philip Fern, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1754 [5]
Fern Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James and Sarah Fern, who arrived in New York in 1820 with their six children
  • Francisco Fern, aged 25, who arrived in New Orleans, La in 1838 [5]
  • Peter Fern, who arrived in Mississippi in 1842 [5]
  • William Fern, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [5]

Australia Fern migration to Australia +

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

Fern Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • B. Fern, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Calphurnia" in 1849 [6]

West Indies Fern migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [7]
Fern Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Henry Fern, who settled in Barbados in 1678

Contemporary Notables of the name Fern (post 1700) +

  • Joseph “Joe” James Fern (1872-1920), American politician, 1st Mayor of Honolulu (1909-1915)
  • Fritzi Fern (1901-1932), born Fritzi Fern Blower, an American child motion picture actress, known for her roles in The Last Frontier (1932) and The Charlatan (1929)
  • Fanny Fern (1811-1872), born Sara Payson Willis, American writer who was the first woman to have a regular newspaper column
  • Charlene "Charlie" Fern (b. 1968), American speechwriter and journalist
  • Henry M. Fern, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Massachusetts 1st District, 1902
  • Alexander "Alex" Fern (b. 1968), Scottish actor and television personality
  • Rodney Alan Fern (1948-2018), English professional footballer who played in 448 matches from 1967 to 1983
  • Harold Fern (1881-1974), British President of swimming's world governing body, FINA (1936-1948)
  • Thomas Edward "Tom" Fern (1886-1966), English football goalkeeper who played from 1909 to 1927
  • Lyndon Fern (b. 1983), retired South African Olympic gold-medalist and former world record swimmer

Senghenydd colliery
  • Mr. Richard Morris Fern (b. 1894), Welsh coal miner from Abertridwr, Caerphilly, Wales who was working at the Senghenydd colliery when there was an explosion on the 14th October 1913; he died
  • Mr. Thomas Fern (b. 1893), Welsh coal miner from Abertridwr, Caerphilly, Wales who was working at the Senghenydd colliery when there was an explosion on the 14th October 1913; he died

  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. 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)
  6. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The CALPHURNIA 1849. Retrieved from
  7. on Facebook