Recorded in a variety of spellings including Fetherston, Fetherstone, Featherstone, and reputed to be the longest single surname spelling in England, Fetherstonhaugh and Featherstonhaugh, this is a pre medieval locational surname. It originates either from the castle of Featherstonhaugh in Northumberland, which was, it is claimed in Burkes General Armoury, held by the same Featherstonhaugh family for eight hundred years, or from one of the various places called Featherstone, mainly in the north of England. In every case the place name and hence the surname, derives from the pre 7th century Olde English 'feberstan', a word which describes an ancient grave or cromlech, consisting of three upright stones and a headstone. The place name is first recorded in Staffordshire in the year 996 a.d. as 'Fetherestanhalg', and as 'Fetherstane' in the Domesday Book for Yorkshire in 1086, but perhaps surprisingly, not until 1204 in Northumberland, when it is recorded as 'Fethererestanhalg'. The earliest surname recordings are believed to be from Yorkshire, and include Simon de Fetherstone and Petrus de Fetherstan, (so much for medieval spelling), both appearing in the Poll Tax Rolls for that county in the year 1379. Amongst the famous or interesting nameholders are Richard Fetherston, who was chaplain to Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of King Henry V111 of England. Fetherston protested with great vigour against the kings divorce from Catherine. In 1535 he was beheaded for his courage, and is now regarded as a Catholic martyr. Another to pay with his life was Sir Timothy Fetherstonehaugh, a famous royalist. He played a major part in the English Civil War (1642 - 1652) and was eventually captured at the battle of Wigan in 1651. He was subsequently beheaded for treason on the orders of Oliver Cromwell.
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