Recorded in a wide variety of spellings including: Flander, Flanders, Flaunders, Flenders, Flinders and Flounders, this is an English surname, but of medieval continental origins. It originates from the former state and province of Flanders now part of Belgium and France, and as such describes a person who left Flanders and came to Britain. In medieval times it was, and it often remains, that one of the easiest ways to identify a stranger was to call him, or sometimes her, by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling being at best rudimentary, and local dialects very thick, soon lead to the development of 'sounds like' spellings. Flanders in the Middle Ages was famous for its textile manufacturing, and considerable trade in cloth existed between the countries at that time, so much so that various English monarchs literally bribed the Flemish textile manufacturers to set up in England. The surname which was originally confined to coastal areas and particularly East Anglia and the West Country, is now widespread with early examples being found in the surviving records such as: Euredai de Flandria in the Danelaw Charters for the county of Lincolnshire in the year 1191, and Thomas Flaundres in the Subsidy Rolls of Somerset in the year 1327. The English naval captain Matthew Flinders (1774 - 1814) discovered and mapped a major part of the Australian coastline in 1795, the Flinders River being named after him.
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