Recorded as Flay, Fleay, Fley, Flea, Flee, and possibly others, this is an English surname. It was medieval and a nickname. However it was not for somebody who had fleas, because everybody had them, but for a small person, or given the robust Chaucerian humour of those far off days, the absolute reverse. As a good example we have Little John or John Little, the largest man and it is said, the second in command of the gang of outlaws lead by the famous Robin Hood, otherwise known as Robin of Locksley or Robin of Sherwood. We have not been able to find published recordings for this surname before the time of Mary 1st of England, but theyprobably exist. Mary also had her nickname of "Bloody Mary" (1554 - 1558), and is not to be confused with Mary, Queen of Scots, who was slightly later. Interestingly a coat of arms was granted in 1620 to Thomas Flay of Exeter. He is described as being a Doctor of Physic. These arms have the blazon of an ermine field, and on a blue pale, three silver birds. The crest is a snake on red crown. Although the meaning is not clear, ermine suggests some relationship with royalty or nobility. In the surviving registers of the city of London we have the recordings of Alyce Fley at St Margaret's Westminster, on November 3rd 1555, and Elizabeth Flay at St Botolphs Bishopgate, on April 11th 1784.
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