There is considerable confusion in regard to the origin of this surname. Recorded in many spellings including Fenlon, Finlan, Fendlow, Findlow, Fenelow, Fennelow, and others, in origin it can be Gaelic, and both Irish and Scottish, and possibly French Huguenot. The usual source is the Gaelic, and if so it derives from the pre 10th century personal name 'Fionnlagh', meaning 'Fair hero' and composed of the elements fionn meaning fair, and lagh, a hero. Gaelic surnames usually originate from a nickname for the first chief of the clan, and this is a good example.It is claimed that the early nameholders were from County Westmeath and it is said that in the Book of Leinster in 1070, MacBeth's father was an Irishman called Findleach. However it is in Scotland where most early recordings are to be found such as Fynlayus clericus, who witnessed a charter of Paisley Monastery in 1246, and Andrew Fyndelai, chaplain of Brechin, 1526 in the "Episcopal Register of Brechin", Scotland. According to the famous Irish historian the late Edward MacLysaght, the nameholders particularly with the prefix 'Fen' are often of French immigrant stock, who came to Ireland in the 17th century. We have not been able to prove this origin. Recordings in the English church registers include Mathew Finloe, at St Johns church, Deansgate, Manchester in 1696, and Charles Fendlow, a christening witness at Manchester Cathedral, on January 7th 1784.Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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