Fleay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

There are several possible origins for the distinguished surname Fleay. 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.

Early Origins of the Fleay family

The surname Fleay 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.

Important Dates for the Fleay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fleay research. Another 94 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1233, 1332, 1620, and 1642 are included under the topic Early Fleay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fleay 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 Flay, Flaye, Fleay and others.

Early Notables of the Fleay family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Fleay 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 Fleay or a variant listed above: Marie Flaye, who immigrated to Louisiana with her family during the 18th century; and Walter Flay, who was recorded in the 1871 census of Ontario.

Contemporary Notables of the name Fleay (post 1700)

  • Frederick Gard Fleay (1831-1909), Shakespeare scholar
  • David Howells Fleay (1907-1993), Australian naturalist who pioneered the captive breeding of endangered species, and was the first person to breed the platypus
  • Clarence William Edward James "Clarrie" Fleay (1886-1955), Australian cricketer who in 1922, played for Western Australia
  • Brian Fleay, Australian retired civil engineer who worked for over 30 years at the Water Authority of Western Australia

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