Recorded in the spellings of Fear, Feare, Fears, Feares and Phear, this is an English surname which means the absolute opposite of what it may appears to say. It derives from the Old English pre 7th century word "fere" meaning a comrade or companion, and also the Olde French "fier" translating as fierce or bold. Originally the name was baptismal although in later medieval times it may have been a nickname for somebody with the characteristics of being brave or a good companion, which in the context of the time must have meant much the same thing. "Nicknames" form a large percentage of British and Irish surnames, and those associated with personal bravery and fortitude seem to have survived the centuries to become surnames in their own right, when others which have less favourable backgrounds, disappeared. Halliwell quotes "And of Burgayne, dewke Loyere, he was a bold man and a fere", clarely a reference to being a good comrade. Examples of the surname recordings taken from authentic rolls and charters of Medieval England include Roger le Feer of Essex and William le Fer of Somerset both in the year 1327, whilst Francis Fear, "tooke shippe for Virginea" from the island of Barbados on October 1st 1679. He was one of the first people anywhere to be recorded as a passenger, that is to say somebody who was granted a "tiquett", although he was unlikely to have been a holiday maker! The first recording of this surname anywhere in the world is believed to be that of Walter Fere, a land owner, in the "Hundred Rolls" of the county of Oxford in the year 1279. This was in the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307.
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