Recorded as Finlay, Finlay, Findlay, Findley, Fendlay, Fendley, and possibly others, this is a surname of Scottish origins, which is also recorded widely in England and Ireland. However spelt it derives from the pre 7th century Gaelic elements "fionn" meaning fair, and "lagh", - a hero. The name could be nationalistic and possibly sardonic, as the Norse-Vikings were fair haired and fair skinned, and certainly warriors who would not necessarily have found much favour with the locals of Scotland and Ireland. The ancient Scottish chronicles of the Kings of Dalrida record the name as Fionnlaoich and Finnleoch, in circa 1080. The name of MacBeth's father was spelt Findleach in "The Book of Leinster" (1070), where it seems that the name was generally translated as "Fair Headed". Early examples of the name recording include Fynlayus Clericus, who witnessed a charter at Paisley Monastery in 1246. Other examples taken from early surviving church registers include Robert Finlaw of Leith in 1567, John Findlo of Montrose in 1639, Lillias Finley, who was christened in Edinburgh in 1671, and Katherine Fendley who married John Eyloe at Allhallows church, London Wall, on June 17th 1686. The earliest surviving record of the family name according to the Scottish Dictionary of Surnames is believed to be that of Andrew Fyndelai, chaplain of Brechin. This was dated 1526 in the "Episcopal Register of Brechin", Scotland, during the reign of King James V of Scotland 1513 - 1543. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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