This is an English locational surname from a village called Farncombe in the county of Surrey. As Farncomb and Farncombe it is also a typical southern place name and surname, being well recorded locally as well as in the surviving church registers of the city of London. Like Farndale in Yorkshire it is a "natural" surname, and describes precisely what it means, a combe or valley where the ferns grew. As ferns grew almost everywhere in Old England, there was probably some additional reason for actually calling a place after them.This may have been because some ferns were used for medicinal purposes, and others for animal feed, and even thatching, in which case Fern - cum may have specialised in the production of particular ferns. The place was never actually recorded as "Fern cum" which would have been the pre 7th century Olde English spelling, but it was recorded as Fernecome in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, which followed the Norman-French Conquest of twenty years earlier. It is unclear as to when the surname was first recorded, but we have found the recording of Robert de Ferncumb of Sussex in the Subsidy Tax rolls of that county in 1296, which is probably as surviving records allow.
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