Show ContentsFirneaux History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient history of the Firneaux name begins with the Norman invaders of Britain. The name is derived from some of the many place names in Northern France created from the Old French word "fournel." One family resided in the area of Furneau-sur-Baise, near Falaise, France. [1] The Normans frequently used the name of their estate in Normandy as part of their name. Other Norman invaders took names from their recently acquired estates in England.

Early Origins of the Firneaux family

The surname Firneaux was first found in Somerset where Odo de Furnell was held in capite in 1086 [2] Later, Galfrid de Furnell was Sheriff of Devon 1 Hen. II (during the first year of Henry II's reign.) His son Henry followed him in the office 25 Hen. II. and 7 Richard I. Alan Furneaux, in 1165, was one of the Justiciaries. One of their seats was at Kentisbere.

"Within less than forty years after the conflict at Hastings, Henry I. granted the Manor of Fen Ottery, in Devon, to Allan de Furneaux, whose soil Galfrid de Furneaux of that place served as Sheriff of Devon, in 1154, as did his son Sir Alan de Furneaux in 1199. From the Testa de Neville and other sources, the Manor of Fen Ottery can be traced in the possession of the same family down to John de Furneaux, temp. Henry V. [3] A branch of this parent stem was established in Somersetshire, by Henry, brother of Sir Alan Furneaux, the Sheriff in 1199, and held the manors of Ashington, Kilve, &c. Three of its descendants, all bearing the Christian name of Matthew, occur on the list of Sheriffs of Devon: the last Sir Matthew dying in 1315, the year of his Shrievalty. " [4]

Another, Fenn Ottery, "was for many descents held by the Furneaux by sergeantry, and so continued unto the latter end of King Edward II.'s days." They had received it from Henry I. The last heir, Sir Matthew, died in 1315, the year of his shrievalty. The name is found in Northumberland, when Robert Fitz Roger and Ralph de Furnell were joint Sheriffs in 1200, 1201, and 1202. [5]

Early History of the Firneaux family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Firneaux research. Another 88 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1726, 1783 and 1726 are included under the topic Early Firneaux History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Firneaux Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Furneaux, Furnell, Fournel and others.

Early Notables of the Firneaux family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Firneaux family

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Firneaux or a variant listed above: L. Furneaux, who arrived in New Orleans in 1823; Albert Furnel, who arrived in New York in 1832; and John Furneaux, who ws on record in the census of Ontario, Canada of 1871..

  1. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  3. Testa de Nevill or "Liber Feodorum" or "Book of Fees," thought to have been written by Ralph de Nevill, for King John (1199–1216)
  4. Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  5. Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 2 of 3 on Facebook