This very interesting surname has three possible origins. The first and most usual, being a locational from a place in France called Fay, meaning 'beech tree'. The name is a slightly later introduction after 1066, it being recorded in the following century. A secondary claim is that the name was a nickname for a person thought to have supernatural qualities, again Olde French, but this time from 'fae' meaning an 'elf or fairy'! We think that more logically when this occurred the development was from a 'role name' i.e. somebody who played the part of a fairy in the medieval travelling theatres. There are a number of recordings which indicate a locational origin such as Richard de Faye in the 1242 Fees Lists of Herefordshire, whilst Margaret le Fey, who is recorded in the 1332 Pipe Rolls of Surrey, was most definitely a fairy. Finally, the name may derive from the Medieval English "fei" meaning "loyalty" and originally given as a nickname to a trustworthy person. Examples of the early church recordings include Jone Phaye, the daughter of Richard Phaye, christened at St. Botolphs without Aldergate, London on November 27th 1597, whilst on March 10th 1681 Mary Fay married James Jackson at London by civil licence. The blazon of the coat of arms granted in County Kildare, Ireland, in 1629, has a green field, a dexter arm issuant from the sinister side of the shield, and a sinister arm from the dexter, vested in silver, grasping a sword erect, the blade thrust through a dragons head couped. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph de Faia, which was dated 1194, the pipe rolls of the county of Sussex, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as 'The Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. 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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