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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016


There are several possible origins for the distinguished surname Flay. Firstly, the name may be derived from "Flée," the name of a place in the Cote-d'Or in France; in this case, the name would mean "one from Flée," and would have been brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Alternatively, the name may be derived from the Old English "fleah," meaning "flea"; in this instance, it is likely that the name was bestowed on the original bearer as a nickname.

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The surname Flay was first found in the southern counties of England. The earliest known bearer of the name was William Fleie, who was listed in the Feodarium Prioratus Dunelmensis of 1233.

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval 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. The name has been spelled Flay, Flaye, Fleay and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Flay research. Another 210 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1233, 1332, 1620, and 1642 are included under the topic Early Flay History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 29 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Flay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World 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 stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Flay or a variant listed above:

Flay Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Edward Flay, who landed in Virginia in 1664

Flay Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Charles Flay, aged 25, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1865
  • Mary Flay, aged 24, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1865
  • Elizabeth Flay, aged 2, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1865
  • James Flay, aged 1, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1865

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  1. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  2. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  3. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  5. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  6. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  7. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  8. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  9. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  10. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  11. ...

The Flay Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Flay Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 1 August 2015 at 23:36.

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