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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

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.


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.

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.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fleay research. Another 210 words (15 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.


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.


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.


  • 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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    Other References

    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. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
    3. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
    4. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
    5. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
    6. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
    7. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
    8. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    9. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
    10. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    11. ...

    The Fleay Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Fleay 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 30 March 2015 at 09:43.

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