The ancestors of the bearers of the Fernlay family name are thought have lived in ancient Anglo-Saxon England
. They were first found in a forest glade carpeted with ferns. The name Fernlay is derived from two Old English elements: fearn,
the old English word for ferns, and leah,
a word for a clearing in a forest.
Early Origins of the Fernlay family
The surname Fernlay was first found in Farnley, a village and civil parish in the Harrogate district of North Yorkshire
. This place name dates back to c. 1030 and was originally spelt Fernleage eluding to its Saxon heritage. There were three listings of separate villages in the Domesday Book
of 1086: Fernelai; Fernelei; and Fereleia. CITATION[CLOSE]
Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
All were in the same area of Yorkshire. There are two Farnley Halls each with different origins but neither were held by the Fernlay family. Alternatively, the name could have originated in Derbyshire
at Fernilee, a township, in the parish of Hope, union of Chapel-en-le-Frith, hundred
of High-Peak that was originally spelt Ferneley in the 12th century. Both place names literally mean "woodland clearing where ferns grow," from the Old English words "fearn" + "leah." CITATION[CLOSE]
Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
Some of the first records of the name include: Hugh de Fernlee who was listed in the Curia Regis Rolls of Worcestershire
in 1206; and Hugh de Fernelay who was listed in Yorkshire
in 1316. CITATION[CLOSE]
Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
The Yorkshire Poll Tax
Rolls of 1379 had the following entries: Johannes de Farnelay, living at Fernelay; Johannes de Fernelee; Margeria de Fernelee; and Johanna de Ferenlowe. CITATION[CLOSE]
Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
Early History of the Fernlay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fernlay research.Another 71 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fernlay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Fernlay Spelling Variations
Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon
surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations
. Changes in Anglo-Saxon
names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Fernlay include Fearnley, Fernlie, Fernley and others.
Early Notables of the Fernlay family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early Fernlay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products
and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Fernlay family to the New World and Oceana
Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Fernlay or a variant listed above: Thomas Fernley who settled in Virginia in 1623; James, John and Thomas Fernley all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.