This interesting and unusual name has three possible origins, the first of which is of Anglo-Saxon derivation from the Old English pre 7th Century word "feorthing", meaning a quarter of a penny, a derivative of "feower", four. In Middle English this became "farden" or "ferthing". The term was used as a nickname for someone who paid a farthing in rent or who had some other anecdotal connection with a farthing. The second possible origin is from a topographical surname for someone who lived on a "farthing" of land, a medieval division meaning the fourth part of a larger area. The third origin is from the Old Norse personal name "Farthegn", composed of the elements "fara", to go and "thegn", a warrior, or hero. Edward Farthing, an early emigrant to the New World, was recorded as resident in the parish of St. Michaels in the Barbadoes in 1678. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Farthain which was dated circa 1163 - 1166, Documents relating to the Danelaw, London, during the reign of King Henry 11, "The Builder 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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