This is an Anglicization of the Old Gaelic name O' Fearghusa - a compound of the Gaelic "O" (meaning "grandson" or "male descendant") and the personal name Fergus, composed of the elements "fear" - a man and "gus" - vigour or force. The name is also Anglicized as (O) Fergus, Farrissy and Farris. Ferris and Farris are widespread names in North-East Ulster where Fairy and O' Ferry have been used as synonyms of it. They are thought to have come from an Old Donegal sept - O' Fearadhaigh. Ferris and Farris are also well known in Kerry. Here they are believed to be the cognomen of a branch of the O' Moriartys - a sept intimately associated with County Kerry. A Father Edward Ferris (1738 - 1809) became the first president of Maynooth College. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ferris (Gaelic O'Fearghusa), which was dated 1586, in the Census of County Kerry, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as Good Queen Bess, 1558 - 1603. 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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