This surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is either a topographical name from residence by fern-covered land, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "fearn", fern, with "feld", open country, plain, or a locational name from either of the places named with these elements: Farnsfield (Nottinghamshire) and Fernfield in the Dover rural district of Kent. The Nottinghamshire place was recorded as "Fearnesfeld" in "Early Yorkshire Charters", dated 958, as "Farnesfeld" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Farnefeld" in 1187. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. Locational names were originally given to local landowners and the Lord of the Manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their place of origin to settle elsewhere. On October 10th 1681, James Fernfield, an infant, was christened in Birdham, Sussex, and on April 5th 1715, Elizabeth, daughter of James and Mary Farnfield, was christened in the same place. The surname is widely recorded in Surrey Church Registers from the mid 18th Century, especially in the Cranley parish, where, on October 21st 1792, the marriage of William Farnfield and Elizabeth Woodhatch was registered. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William atte Fernefeld, which was dated 1327, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Somerset", during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. 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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