Recorded in the spellings of Forlong, Forlonge, Furlong and Furlonge, this is an English medieval surname. It derives from the pre 7th century Olde English 'furlange' meaning 'a long furrow', and this in turn came to be associated by useage with a specific distance of 220 yards or one eighth of a mile. However as a 'furlong' is usually an abstract measurement, it seems more likely that the surname is derived from a specific place or places, and this is born out by such recordings as John de Forhlang of Suffolk in the Fees Rolls of the year 1250, and Richard de Furlang in the Assize Rolls of Lancashire in 1260.If this is so then these are 'lost' medieval sites, as no records of such places appear in any known gazetteer. The late Professor Reaney suggested that in some cases the surname may have described an early athlete, one who ran at a race-course, otherwise known as a 'furlong'. This would appear to be confirmed by a quotation from Chaucer who in 1374 wrote 'Yif a man rennes in the stadie or in the forlong... for the pris' so describing it would seem athletic pursuits for which prizes were given. The surname is very early, and this in itself is a good indication that the meaning is outside the more usual categories. Other early examples include John Forlong of Oxford in the Oseney Rolls of 1316 and John atte Forlange in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Furlang, which was dated 1242, the Fees Rolls of the county of Devon, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as 'The Frenchman' 1216 - 1272. 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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