Recorded in many spellings including Fearby, Feerby, Fearsby, Firby, Furby, Ferbee, Featherby, Feathersby, Featherbie, and possibly others, this is an English medieval locational surname. It is believed to originate from the ancient village of Fearby in North Yorkshire, or from some now "lost" medieval village of a similar spelling and meaning. The origin of Fearby is before written records, or at least before any that have survived, the first known recording being in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as "Federbi". According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names this translates as "Beautiful Farm" from the Norse-Viking pre 8th century "Fegroar-byr", and indeed Fearby is still a very beautiful and mainly unspoilt village. Locational surnames tend to be "from" names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homestead and moved somewhere else. Spelling over the centuries being at best erratic, lead to the creation of "sounds like" spellings. In this case early examples of the surname recording include Mary Ferby christened at St Boltolph Bishopgate, on January 26th 1595, and Richard Fetherby or Feathersby at St Catharine Freechurch on October 25th 1687, both in the city of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Ralph de Fecherbi. This was dated 1185 in the roll of the Knight Templars (Crusaders) during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England, 1154 - 1189. 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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