Recorded in the spellings of Firbank and Firbanks, this name is of Northern English locational origin. It derives from a place in Cumberland called Firbank. Recorded as Frithebenk in the Close Rolls of Cumberland in the year 1230, and as Frethebank in the Cockersand Chartulary of 1240, the name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "fyrhth" meaning "wod" or "woodland" plus "banke", a bank or ridge, hence, "ridge" in a woodland". The surname was first recorded in the latter part of the 15th Century, (see below), and early examples of recordings taken from surviving church registers include: Edward Firbank and Ellin Pearson who were married in Kendal, Westmoreland on May 29th 1540, whilst on June 15th 1631, Helene Firbanke married Thomas Fidoe at the church of St. Gregory by St. Paul's, in the city of London. An interesting recording is that of Robert Firebancke of Wennington, in the parish of Mellinge, who was entered in the Lancashire Wills Records at Richmond in Yorkshire, in 1638. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Firthbank. This was dated 1470, in the register of the Freemen of the City of York, during the reign of King Edward IV, 1461 - 1483. 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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