This is a very unusual and interesting English medieval surname. It originates from the pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon 'fader' meaning the father, and as such was a term of status or endearment not for a father as such, but for 'The father' or chief of the local community or an elder of the village, who may also have been regarded as a holy man. He was probably not a priest, as priests were not supposed to either marry or have children, but as we are now allowed to know, 'accidents' do happen. It is interesting that since the Middle Ages, when hereditary surnames as we know them today came into use, the surname has been found almost exclusively in the patronymic form of 'Fathers' meaning 'the son of the Father', although the earliest recordings such as that of Arnald le Fader of Wiltshire in the Hundred Rolls of 1273, are singular.The famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley remarked that the name was unusual in being found originally only in the three linked counties of Somerset, Wiltshire, and Oxfordshire, although he offers no suggestions as to why this should be, nor as to why the name developed into a patronymic. Other dictionaries have ignored it altogether. This may be because it is very rare, or because they feel unable to offer a suggestion for its origin. The surname is recorded in the diocese of Greater London from at least the middle of the 18th century. A good example being that of Ann Fathers who married George Woods, at St George's Chapel, Hanover Square, on April 1st 1786.
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