This interesting name 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 fern from the Olde English pre 7th Century word fearn, a collective noun. There are a number of variations of the modern surname, ranging from Fern(e), Fearn(e), Feirn, Farn, Fairn 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.The name is also found in Ireland where it is said to be a synonym of "Reneham", found in the County of Offaly. Henry atte Verne was recorded in 1275 in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire and Joceus de Ferne was mentioned in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296. Thomas Ferns was christened on March 1st 1587 at Pontefract, Yorkshire, and the marriage of Catherine Ferns and Edward Cornwell was recorded on July 3rd 1640 at St. Mary's, Marylebone, London. Ellen and Ann Ferns aged 25 and 25, were Irish famine immigrants who sailed on the "Clifton" from Liverpool for New York on May 17th, 1847. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de la Ferne, which was dated 1275, in the Worcestershire Subsidy Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as "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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