Last name: Flay
Recorded as Flea, Fleay, Fley, Flay, Flye, Flyee, and possibly others, this is an English surname. It was originally a nickname for a small person, or perhaps on occasion and given the robust humour of the medieval period, the complete opposite. One thing it did not describe was a person with fleas, because everybody had them! Nicknames from physical features such as size, shape or complexion, form one of the largest groups within the surname listings. Indeed there are some researchers who claim that all surnames were originally nicknames, in that they were purely given to identify a person, and may not have been intended some seven or eight hundred years ago, to be hereditary. This surname is well recorded in the early surviving chuerch registers of the city of London, although it may well have been equally popular in other regions. These early examples include Alyce Fley who married James Wryght at St Margarets Westminster, on November 3rd 1555. This was in the reign of Mary 1st of England, otherwise known as 'Bloody Mary' (1554 - 1558), and not to be confused with Mary, Queen of Scots, whilst Ann Flee married Edmound Dubblede (as spelt), at the church of St Mary Somerset, on October 20th 1597, and Susanne Flay who married William Hoyd also at St Mary Somerset, but on October 18th 1628.
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The Flay entry is interesting but it is also complete nonsense. The name comes from a place name, that of the monastery precinct of St Germer de Flye near Beavais in Picardy. The first appearance of the name is Eustace of Flaye (the monk from Flye or Flaye Abbey) who preached at Bury St Edmunds c 1201. There is also an Adam de Flaye and his son Thomas, Norman knights who were witnesses to a land transfer of title made by Jean le Bel at Wantisden also earlu 13th C. So the earliest usage of the name is always linked to a place - Adam de Flaye is Adam - from the region of Flaye. There are other Ffleyes mention in the 13th, 14th and 15th Cs, at which point they settled in Devon and stayed there for centuries. There are plenty of records earlier than the ones you quote, but most of them begin with a double F.
Do you have any more info on this? Sounds really interesting. Thanks