Last name: Farnsworth

This name, with variant spellings Farnsworth and Farnorth, is of English locational origin from either of two places in Lancashire called Farnworth, one in Deane and the other in Prescot. The former was first recorded as Farnewurd in the 1185 Pipe Rolls of that county and the latter as Farneword in "The Coucher Book of Whalley Abbey", dated 1324. Both are so called from the old English pre 7th Century "fearn", fern (a collective noun), plus "worth", an enclosure or settlement; hence, "settlement where ferns were abundant". Such locational names were originally given to the Lord of the Manor or as a means of identification to those who left their place of birth to settle elsewhere. 16th Century recordings from Lancashire church registers include the christening of Agnes, daughter of John Farnworth, in Chorley on September 15th 1550, and the marriage of Richard Farnsworth in Ainsworth on March 3rd 1563. A notbale namebearer was Richard Farnworth, a quaker minister imprisoned at Banbury in 1651 for not uncovering to the mayor! The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Leising de Farnewurd, which was dated 1185, in the "Pipe Rolls of Cheshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Building of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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