Recorded as Ferber, Forbear, Forber, Furber, and others, this is an English surname. However its ultimate origins are in the pre 10th century Old French word 'fourbisseor', introduced after the famous Conquest of 1066, and meaning to burnish. As such it was an occupational surname applied to an armourer who wished to put the finishing touches to his work, by 'furbishing' the armour which was to rub it with chains until it was bright. The most popular form of the name in the modern idiom is Frobisher, where the first element of the original 'fourbisseor' has been transposed, although it was also recorded in Elizabethan times as 'Furbearer'. This is now believed to be extinct. Early records include statements such as that in the rolls of the Freemen of the city of Chester and referring to the processions which accompanied the famous medieval mystery plays of 1339. This was that (quote) 'The smiths, forbers and pewterers will march together....' The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elfwin Furbor. This was dated 1180, in the records of Oseney Abbey, Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England, 1154 -1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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