This name, with variant spellings Ferneyhough, Fernihough, Fearnehough and Fearny(h)ough, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "fearn" meaning "fern", plus "hoh", a projecting ridge of land, and was originally given as a topographical name to "one resident by a hill spur overgrown with ferns". Topographical surnames, such as this, were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages.The surname was first recorded in the early part of the 14th Century (see below). The high incidence of recordings from Church Registers of Staffordshire and Cheshire suggest that there may have been a place thus called in this area of England. These recordings include: the christening of Randle Fearnough, an infant, on November 13th 1567, in St. John the Baptist, Chester; the marriage of Alicia Fernyhoughe and Richardus Pyott on October 8th 1584, in Kingsley, Staffordshire; and the christening of Marg Fernyhough in Leek, Staffordshire, on February 3rd 1693. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Fernyhough, which was dated 1332, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Staffordshire", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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