Recorded as Filtness and Filltness, this is an English locational surname. It originates from what is now apparently a 'lost' medieval village, and one which may have been in East Anglia. The derivation of the place name, and hence the later surname, is from the Olde English pre 7th century words 'faelet' meaning a hayfield, and 'nes', a headland. It is possible, particularly given the meaning of the name, that the village or hamlet of Filtness is one of the many places which have disappeared into the North Sea over the past millenium. What is certain is that surnames which originate from 'lost' villages form a significant grouping within the surnames listings, representing about 5% of all British and Irish surnames. As to why villages 'disappeared' is itself an interesting social question, but it can usually be put down to changes in agricultural practice from arable to pasture, although plague, civil war, and since the 18th century, urbanization have played their part. Those people that left the land took with them as their surname, the name of their former village. Spelling being at best erratic and local dialects very thick,often lead to the development of alternative spellings. In this case early examples of the surname recordings include: Ellin Filltness, who married Henrie Raymond at St Margarets, Westminster, on April 14th 1577, and Ann Filtress, who married William Carpineer (?) at the famous church of St Mary-le-Bone, in the city of London, on September 23rd 1684.
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