Show ContentsFernly History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Fernly is a name of ancient Anglo-Saxon origin and comes from the family once having lived in a forest glade carpeted with ferns. The name Fernly 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 Fernly family

The surname Fernly 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. [1] All were in the same area of Yorkshire. There are two Farnley Halls each with different origins but neither were held by the Fernly 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." [2] 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. [3] 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. [4]

Early History of the Fernly family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fernly research. Another 36 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fernly History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fernly Spelling Variations

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Fernly family name include Fearnley, Fernlie, Fernley and others.

Early Notables of the Fernly family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Fernly Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Fernly family

For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, Canada, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Fernly surname or a spelling variation of the name include: Thomas Fernley who settled in Virginia in 1623; James, John and Thomas Fernley all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.

  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6) on Facebook