Show ContentsFidian History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

While surnames were well-known during the English medieval period, Cornish People originally used only a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames came into common use is interesting. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Patronymic surnames were derived from given names and were the predominant type of surname among the Celtic peoples of Britain. However, the people of Cornwall provide a surprising exception to this rule, and patronymic surnames are less common among them than other people of Celtic stock, such as their Welsh neighbors. This type of surname blended perfectly with the prevailing Feudal System. One feature that is occasionally found in Cornish surnames of this type is the suffix -oe or -ow; this is derived from the Cornish plural suffix -ow. is a patronymic surname that came from the ancient Latin given name Vivianus, which itself comes from the Latin word vivus, meaning alive. One source notes that the "Vyvians of Truro are derived by certain genealogists from one Vivianus Annius, a Roman general, son in law to Domitius Corbulo!" [1]

Early Origins of the Fidian family

The surname Fidian was first found in Cornwall where the family has held a large estate named Trelowarren in the village of Mawgan-in-Meneage since 1427.

The Halliggye Fogou at Trelowarren is the largest fogou in Cornwall. Sir Richard Vyvyan referenced the fogou at Halligey, Trelowarren in his journals. In 1982, the site was excavated after routine ploughing of the field, breached the roof of the main chamber. This hole has since been turned into an entrance stairway for visitors.

The first record of the surname was "Sir Vyel Vyvyan, Knight, who lived in the 13th century, and whose descendant John, having married an heiress of Ferrers, succeeded to the lordship of Trelowarren in the reign of Edward IV. " [2]

The lands and castle of St. Mawes, Cornwall were once held by Michael Vivian, Esq. of Trelowarren, who was made the first governor of this fortress. Another source claims that "in the reign of Elizabeth, it was sold to Hannibal Vyvyan, Esq. of Trelowarren. But whatever doubts may arise as to the exact time when these lands came into the Vyvyan family, it is certain that they retained it for several generations, until the days of Charles II. when Sir Wyell Vyvyan is said to have sold the land on which the castle stands, and the annexed estate, to John Earl of Bath, by whom it was again transferred to Sir Joseph Tredenham." [3]

Early History of the Fidian family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fidian research. Another 111 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1545, 1575, 1601, 1607, 1610, 1613, 1635, 1640, 1644, 1660, 1665, 1681, 1724, 1727, 1736 and 1772 are included under the topic Early Fidian History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fidian Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Vivian, Vey, Vye, Vyse and others.

Early Notables of the Fidian family

Notable amongst the family at this time was Hannibal Vyvyan (1545-1610), of Trelowarren in Cornwall, an English Member of Parliament, High Sheriff of Cornwall in 1601,Vice Admiral of South Cornwall from 1601 to 1607; Sir Francis Vyvyan (1575-1635), of Trelowarren in Cornwall, an English Member of Parliament; Sir Richard Vyvyan, 1st Baronet (c.1613-1665), an English politician who sat in the...
Another 60 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fidian Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Fidian family

A search of the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Fidian: Charles Vye, a master ship builder who settled in Trinity, Newfoundland, in 1787; George Vey settled in St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1803; Bastian Vey settled in Philadelphia in 1740.

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  3. Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print on Facebook