This interesting surname is a variant of Fern, which is of Anglo-Saxon origin and is a topographical surname used by (or for) someone who lived in a place where ferns were abundant. The derivation is from, a collective noun. There are a number of variations of the modern surname, ranging from Fern(e), Fearn(e), Feirn, Farn, Fairn, Fearney and Vern(e) to the plural, genitive forms, Ferns, Farnes, Varnes and Varns, meaning "of the ferns", the forms with "v" for "f" being the southern and south-western Middle English variants. Among the recordings in Yorkshire are the marriage of Thomas Fearney and Sarah Watts on March 3rd 1817 at Rotherham, and the christening of Edward, son of Michael and Bridget Fearney, on March 17th 1833 at St. Mary's, Halifax. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de la Ferne, which was dated 1275, The Worcestershire Subsidy Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 1, "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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