This unusual surname is of Norman-French origin, and is a locational name from any of the various places in the north of France named with the Old French "fournel", a diminutive of "four", oven, furnace. These places include Fourneaux in Calvados and La Manche, and the surname was first brought from France by followers of William the Conqueror who were granted lands in England. Early recordings include: Odo de Fornelt Somerset, 1086); Simon de Furneaus (Hertfordshire, 1220); Simon de Forneaux (Somerset, 1327); and Willelmus de Furneux (Yorkshire, 1379). Furneux Pelham, a parish and village in Hertfordshire, was named from a 12th Century Richard de Furneals, who once held the manor. This place was recorded variously as "Pelham Furnelle" in 1240, and as "Furneus" in 1293, and may have given rise to later instances of the surname. A notable bearer of the name was Tobias Furneaux (1735 - 1781), circumnavigator, who commanded the "Adventure" in Cook's second voyage, and separately explored the coast of Tasmania, preparing the first chart of it, and giving names now on the map. On August 4th 1761, the marriage of William Furneaux and Mary Shellard took place at St. James', Westminster, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the Furneaux family depicts a silver pale lozengy on a black shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Anketillus de Furnels, which was dated 1086, in the "Inquisitio Comitatus", Cambridgeshire, during the reign of King William 1, known as "William the Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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