Ferguson in his 'Teutonic Name System' suggests that the correct spelling of this name is Farefowl meaning 'a bird of passage'. The first element may also have been 'fair' and the Olde English pre 7th century 'fugol' meaning 'fowl' i.e. 'a fair bird'. In 1480 a John Fairfowl or Fairful was one of the bailies of St. Andrews (Scotland). Alternate spellings of the name in Scotland have included: Ferfulle (1511), Fairfull (1550) and Fairfoull or Farfull (1582). One Alexander Fairfoul 'shoemaker in St.Androes' was retoured heir of Robert Phennesoune 'his gudser on the mother syd' (1653). An Andrew Fairfowl was Archbishop of Glasgow in 1662. Today Fairfowl is the more usual spelling of the name. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Fayrfowel which was dated 1277 in the Assize Court Rolls of Somerset during the reign of King Edward 1, known as the Hammer of the Scots 1272-1307 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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